Washington (AFP) – Former President Donald Trump defended his conduct during the US Capitol assault in an incendiary interview published Thursday, saying he did not regret summoning his rioting supporters to Washington.
He told The Washington Post he would have accompanied his ultra-loyal followers as they marched on the complex on January 6 last year, but was stopped by his security detail.
He offered no contrition for whipping up the crowd with bogus claims that victory was stolen from him through widespread fraud — although he was clear in his condemnation of the violence that ensued.
“Secret Service said I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute,” he said, in the wide-ranging interview, adding that it was the largest crowd he had ever spoken to.
Thousands of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol last year in an effort to halt the peaceful transfer of power after Joe Biden won a decisive victory in 2020, described by the government as one of the most secure elections in US history.
Trump repeatedly boasted about the “tremendous” size of the crowd at his rally ahead of the riot and glossed over his explosive rhetoric that whipped up the crowd.
“I don’t know what that means, but you see very few pictures. They don’t want to show pictures, the fake news doesn’t want to show pictures,” he said.
The ex-president defended his long silence during the attack, deflecting blame to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, even though she isn’t responsible for policing at the Capitol and was a target of the mob herself.
He also pointed a finger at Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who “furiously tried to reach Trump’s team that day,” according to the Post.
“I hated seeing it. I hated seeing it. And I said, ‘It’s got to be taken care of,’ and I assumed they were taking care of it,” Trump said of the violence, which has been linked to at least five deaths.
The interview came after the House of Representatives voted to refer ex-Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino for criminal contempt charges on Wednesday for defying congressional subpoenas to testify about the riot.