Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday justified the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, calling it a legitimate protest against a rigged election.
In a statement, Trump targeted Congress’ bipartisan select committee investigating the attack, which involved a horde of his supporters storming the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Dozens of police officers were injured in the riot, and several people died.
The committee “should come to the conclusion after spending many millions of dollars, that the real insurrection happened on November 3rd, the Presidential Election, not on January 6th—which was a day of protesting the Fake Election results,” Trump said in his statement.
Jan. 6 started with a rally near the White House and ended with a violent mob breaking into the Capitol, fighting police and ransacking the building.
A bipartisan House majority voted to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” shortly after the attack. A bipartisan Senate majority voted to convict, but the vote fell short of the two-thirds total needed for conviction.
Republicans have since downplayed the significance of the riot, including opposing an investigatory commission and dishonestly blaming Democrats for the Capitol’s vulnerability to the attack.
But the select committee, which has two Republican and seven Democratic members, has been steadily gathering evidence, conducting depositions and issuing subpoenas. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), its chairman, has said the committee will make criminal referrals to Trump allies who defy subpoenas.
Trump has continuously lied about the 2020 election, which he lost by a wide margin, and has made plenty of excuses for the Capitol attack, but Wednesday’s comment is one of his most brazen yet.