Former President Donald Trump claimed his supporters involved in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol posed “zero threat” and involved people “hugging and kissing the police.”
One police officer was killed in the attack, and at least 138 suffered injuries that included burns, concussions and fractures.
The Capitol was overrun with a mob attempting to stop the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s Electoral College win.
The former president also claimed his arrested supporters were being “persecuted” for involvement in the violence.
Trump conceded that the rioters “shouldn’t have done it” but saved most of his criticism for anti-fascist activists (also called antifa) and the Black Lives Matter movement:
Fox News did not show footage of the violence at the Capitol when Trump spoke of his supporters “hugging and kissing the police.” But when Trump mentioned antifa, the network ran 10-month-old footage of unrest in Minneapolis.
Antifa and Black Lives Matter, Trump said, are “really dangerous... and truly hate our country.”
Prosecutors have disputed Trump’s characterization of last summer’s unrest, which followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May and the violent deaths of other Black Americans.
“We haven’t seen any trend of antifa folks who were involved here in the criminal activity or violence,” Michael Paul, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office, said in December, according to the Star-Tribune.
Instead, much of the criminal activity that took place during the unrest was more opportunistic and did not involve people affiliated with specific groups.
However, prosecutors say the Jan. 6 riot in Washington involved multiple far-right groups, including white supremacists gangs and paramilitary groups, including some who coordinated before and during the violence.
Earlier this month, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) sued Trump, claiming civil rights violations related the insurrection.
Trump may also face criminal charges, with a top federal prosecutor involved in the case indicating that sedition could be one of them.
“I personally believe the evidence is trending towards that, and probably meets those elements,” Michael Sherwin, who until last week was lead investigator, told CBS News. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.”