“Trump’s messaging on January 6 is precisely in line with how he’s historically addressed violence on the part of hate groups and his supporters: He emboldens it.
As far back as 2015, Trump has been connected to documented acts of violence, with perpetrators claiming that he was even their inspiration. In fact, almost five dozen people, according to reports from the Guardian and ABC News, have enacted violence in Trump’s name.
In 2016, a white man told officers “Donald Trump will fix them” while being arrested for threatening his Black neighbors with a knife. That same year, a Florida man threatened to burn down a house next to his because a Muslim family purchased it, claiming that Trump’s Muslim ban made it a reason for “concern.” Then there are the more widely known examples, like Cesar Sayoc, who mailed 16 inoperative pipe bombs to Democratic leaders and referred to Trump as a “surrogate father”; and the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 that left 23 dead, where the shooter’s manifesto parroted Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants.
In some cases, Trump denounces the violence, but he often walks back such statements, returning to a message of hate and harm. In August, he defended a teenage supporter who shot three people at a Black Lives Matter protest. And at the first presidential debate of the 2020 election, President Donald Trump shocked many viewers when he was given an opportunity to condemn white supremacists but declined. In October, he equivocated on condemnation of the domestic terrorists who allegedly planned to violently kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Instead, he criticized Whitmer and fished for compliments.
Trump has continually refused to recognize what’s at the core of this violence: hate nurtured under a tense national climate that he has helped cultivate.
Trump’s campaign rallies have always been incubation grounds for violence, the sites where Trump spewed hate speech that encouraged physical harm against dissenters. And as president, he has used his platform to encourage violence against American citizens, whether through the police and National Guard or militia groups — unless those citizens are his supporters.”
“One of the clearest moments Trump refused to denounce violence, and thereby encourage it, was when he equated the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, as part of a “Unite the Right” rally with the leftist protesters who demonstrated against them. During the rally, a Nazi sympathizer drove a car into a crowd of anti-racism counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The evening before, on August 11, the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups marched at the University of Virginia, carrying lit tiki torches and chanting anti-Semitic slogans, in response to the impending removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.”
“Trump’s very first response to the events in Charlottesville was to condemn violence on the part of many players, while initially refusing to even mention the presence of white supremacist groups. In a short statement issued Saturday evening, Trump said from his golf club in New Jersey, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”
That same night, he tweeted condolences to Heyer’s family but made no mention of who was responsible for the violence. Trump called for there to be “a study” to understand what happened in Charlottesville.
On the Tuesday following the weekend rally, Trump infamously said, “You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides.”
The president also attempted to identify the “good people” in the sea of white nationalists that weekend: “You had people and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally. … You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.””
“A 39-year-old Montana man was charged with felony assault for choking, slamming, and fracturing the skull of a 13-year-old boy who didn’t take his hat off for the national anthem. The man’s attorney told the local newspaper that Trump’s “rhetoric” led to the violent act. “His commander in chief is telling people that if they kneel, they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished,” the lawyer said, referencing Trump’s harsh words against athletes like Colin Kaepernick who protested for social justice.”
“A 61-year-old Milwaukee man was arrested and charged with a felony hate crime after allegedly throwing acid at a Peruvian American who was walking to a Mexican restaurant. The perpetrator accused the victim of being inside the country illegally, asking him, “Why you invade my country?” and “Why don’t you respect my laws?” before attacking him. When police searched the perpetrator’s home, they found three letters addressed to Donald Trump. The victim suffered second-degree burns.”
“On the day that Congress moved to certify the 2020 presidential election results confirming Biden as the winner, Trump encouraged thousands of his supporters to dispute vote counts. At an outdoor rally, Trump turned on Republicans who refused to support his efforts to overturn the election results, calling them weak, and urged Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College results.
Trump told listeners, “You will never take back our country with weakness.” (Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani also delivered a speech in which he encouraged “trial by combat.”) Hours of violence followed the speech when supporters stormed the US Capitol, as well as state capitols across the country. Capitol Police fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter, as she and others tried to breach the halls of the Senate. Three others are said to have died. Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a city-wide curfew beginning at 6 pm, and few people were arrested, though many rioters violated the restriction.”