Former President Donald Trump Saturday night called on his followers to stage massive protests in multiple cities should prosecutors act against him. He also said he would offer pardons to those charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol that he incited in a last-gasp attempt to remain in power.
“If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere, because our country and our elections are corrupt,” he said to a rally audience in Conroe, Texas, reading from teleprompters set up on either side of his lectern.
A few minutes later, he claimed his followers who stormed the Capitol, assaulting police as they entered, were not being treated “fairly” and that should he run for the White House again and win: “If it requires pardons, we will give them pardons.”
The 80-minute performance, while riddled with Trump’s familiar lies about having had his reelection “stolen” from him in November 2020, was notable for the numerous references to the various investigations into him.
“They’re trying to put me in jail,” he said. “These prosecutors are vicious, horrible people. They’re racists and they’re very sick. They’re mentally sick. They’re going after me without any protection of my rights by the Supreme Court or most other courts.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James has been conducting a civil probe of his family business, while the district attorney in Manhattan has been running a criminal investigation.
Meanwhile, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, has impaneled a special grand jury just to focus on Trump’s attempt to coerce state officials to “find” enough votes to overturn his loss of that state to Democrat Joe Biden in 2020.
And the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 has been subpoenaing more and more former and current Trump aides to determine his precise role in that day’s events, while the Department of Justice this past week confirmed that it is investigating at least one element of Trump’s scheme to remain in power: the submission of fake Trump “electors” in states that Biden won.
Trump White House and campaign advisers at the time openly pushed for the fraudulent slates so as to give Vice President Mike Pence the ability to cite the competing slates as reason to declare Trump the winner and award him a second term.
Pence, though, refused to go along with the plan, and instead actively sabotaged the false elector scheme by crafting new language to make sure the fake slates were excluded.
A year ago, Trump became the first U.S. president to refuse to turn over power peacefully to his successor. He spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the November 2020 contest that he lost. Hours after polls closed and it appeared that Biden would be the winner, Trump stated that he had really won in a “landslide” and that his victory was being “stolen” from him. Those falsehoods continued with a string of failed lawsuits challenging the results in a handful of states.
After the Electoral College voted on Dec. 14, making Biden’s win official, Trump instead turned to a last-ditch scheme to pressure his own vice president into handing Trump the election during the pro forma congressional certification of the election results on Jan. 6.
Trump asked his followers to come to Washington that day and told the thousands who showed up that they should march to the Capitol to intimidate Pence into doing what Trump wanted. “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules,” Trump said.
The mob of supporters stormed the building and chanted “Hang Mike Pence” when the vice president did not do Trump’s bidding. The riot left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and four other officers took their own lives in the following weeks and months.
Though the House impeached Trump for inciting the attack, all but seven Senate Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, chose not to convict him ― thereby letting Trump continue his political career even as he is the subject of several investigations.