Trump claims crowd at January 6 rally before Capitol assault was "loving"


By Melissa Quinn

/ CBS News

Washington — Former President Donald Trump claimed the crowd of his supporters who gathered outside the White House for a rally on January 6 before the assault on the U.S. Capitol was "loving," according to published audio of an interview he conducted with a pair of Washington Post reporters.

Mr. Trump discussed the rally at the Ellipse during a March interview with reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker for their new book "I Alone Can Fix It," and said the audience was there to support his unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him.

"It was a loving crowd, too, by the way. There was a lot of love," the former president said during their meeting at his South Florida club, Mar-A-Lago, according to the audio. "I've heard that from everybody. Many, many have told me that was a loving crowd."

Five people died after a mob of Mr. Trump's supporters breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to stop Congress from counting states' electoral votes and reaffirming President Biden's victory. Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the joint session, was whisked away from the Senate chamber as rioters gained entry into the Capitol, and lawmakers were evacuated and ushered to a secure room.

More than 535 people have been arrested for their roles in the January 6 attack, which left more than 150 police officers injured.

The assault led the House to impeach Mr. Trump for a second time, for incitement of insurrection, though the former president was acquitted by the Senate. During the impeachment trial, House managers pointed to Mr. Trump's comments at the rally to demonstrate how he spurred the violence at the Capitol.

The former president told the crowd January 6 to "fight like hell" and said "everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard."

Mr. Trump told Leonnig and Rucker in his March interview he believes his speech was "relatively calm."

"They showed up just to show support because I happen to believe the election was rigged at a level like nothing has ever been rigged before," he said.

The former president said those who broke through police barricades and entered the Capitol building were "ushered in by the police."

"In all fairness, the Capitol Police were ushering people in," he told Leonnig and Rucker, according to the audio of their interview. "The Capitol Police were very friendly."

Despite Mr. Trump's continued claims the presidential election was stolen, dozens of lawsuits filed in state and federal courts raising allegations of voter fraud failed, since the former president's lawyers did not present evidence to support their claims. The U.S. Supreme Court also rebuffed efforts to reverse the outcome of the elections in key battleground states.

Mr. Trump told the Washington Post reporters his lawsuits were tossed out not because he needed better lawyers, but because "I needed better judges."

"The Supreme Court was afraid to take it," he said, adding he's "very disappointed" in the high court.

Mr. Trump named three of the nine Supreme Court justices.

First published on July 22, 2021 / 9:56 AM

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