In a detailed analysis, legal experts have cast doubt on Donald Trump's defense concerning his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Trump's legal team has focused on a specific phrase from his "Stop the Steal" rally speech, asserting he advocated for peaceful actions.
However, Tom Joscelyn, Norman L. Eisen, and Fred Wertheimer, writing for Just Security, argue that the broader context of Trump's actions and statements paints a different picture. Last month, Trump reiterated that he had urged his supporters to be "peaceful and patriotic," a line his attorneys have emphasized since his impeachment.
Yet, an extensive review of evidence suggests a contrary narrative. The legal experts point out that Trump's rhetoric was far from peaceful, often inciting his followers to 'fight', and he seldom used the word 'peaceful' The January 6th Select Committee's findings, along with evidence gathered by Special Counsel Jack Smith, present a comprehensive account of Trump's conduct.
This evidence includes a series of public statements and behind-the-scenes interactions indicating that Trump's inner circle, including White House officials and family members, implored him to dissuade his supporters as violence unfolded.
Despite these pleas, Trump remained silent for hours.
Trump's Delayed Response, Controversial Tweet
It was not until 4:17 p.m. that Trump addressed his supporters with a video message urging peace. However, even in this message, he expressed empathy for the rioters, acknowledging their pain and repeating his unfounded claims of a stolen election.
This belated call for peace did lead many rioters to disperse, yet it did little to mitigate the chaos that had already ensued. Further complicating Trump's defense is a tweet he posted at 6:01 p.m. on the day of the insurrection.
In this tweet, he appeared to justify the rioters' actions, linking them to his baseless claims of electoral fraud. This statement, the experts argue, could severely impact Trump's appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court against a Colorado ruling related to the Constitution's insurrection clause.
Moreover, this tweet might serve as a crucial piece of evidence in Jack Smith's case investigating election subversion. The experts suggest that this tweet could be interpreted as Trump's admission of the Capitol assault being a direct result of his rhetoric about a stolen election.
Trump's parting words, "Remember this day forever!" may further underscore the gravity of the events and their connection to his actions, potentially impacting the legal battles he faces.