The case against Trump: A look at his tweets from January 6th

Former president's second impeachment trial begins on 9 February 2021

James Crump@thejamescrump
Friday 12 February 2021 20:46
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Trump encourages rally goers to 'march over to Capitol' before siege

Former President Donald Trump's second Senate impeachment trial is underway, for his role in inciting the Capitol riots early last month.

Five people died and several more were injured, as a pro-Trump mob breached the US Capitol on 6 January. A week later, and a week before leaving office, Mr Trump was impeached by the House for the second time for inciting the riots at a rally close to the Capitol.

The insurrection came after a “Save America" rally in the Ellipse, a park near the White House, in which Mr Trump spoke for more than an hour criticising the election results, the media and the Democrats.

The impeachment trial is Mr Trump’s second in the space of just over a year, after he faced one in early 2020 when he was accused of pressuring Ukrainian officials into investigating his soon-to-be election opponent, Joe Biden. He was acquitted by the Senate on 5 February 2020.

Read more: Follow live Trump impeachment updates

The verdict of Mr Trump’s second impeachment trial is likely to be decided by his actions on 6 January, as Democrats have argued that he incited the violence that followed his speech, while his lawyers claim he is protected under the First Amendment.

His posts on Twitter have been analysed, as was the timing of his comments to his followers might help explain what happened on 6 January, while Mr Trump's speech, which preceded the violence in the Capitol, has become a central piece of evidence in support and defence of the House charge of “incitement to insurrection”.

Below is everything Mr Trump did on that day, as his second impeachment trial continues.

THE VIDEOS

Video footage from 6 January is expected to play a role in the impeachment trial, with Democrats rumoured to be planning on showing the speeches prior to the riots and insurrection at the Capitol later in the day.

However, there is plenty more footage from the day available, showing the build-up to the rally and moments that might have been missed by many as the insurrection took place.

Backstage footage prior to the “Save America” rally shows Mr Trump and members of his family upbeat as the crowd started to gather near the White House.

Donald Trump seen with boxing gloves before 6 January rally

Mr Trump Jr was filmed smiling, as his girlfriend and adviser to his father, Kimberly Guilfoyle, told the crowd to do the “right thing” and “fight”.

Ms Guilfoyle was also filmed dancing, as the backstage area had a celebratory mood just before the rally began.

The then president’s children smiled for the cameras documenting the build-up to the rally, while Mr Trump was filmed wearing boxing gloves as he looked at a monitor showing the crowd gathered there that day.

One of the most damning moments that was caught on film on 6 January, was when the crowd at the rally cheered after Mr Trump told them that “we will never concede” and urged them to walk to the Capitol.

“After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re gonna walk down to the Capitol,” Mr Trump said, as the crowd erupted into cheers.

Trump encourages rally goers to 'march over to Capitol' before siege

Following the cheering, multiple people in the crowd were filmed shouting for them to “storm the Capitol” before Mr Trump told those in attendance that they could not “show weakness”.

The cheering that followed Mr Trump calling for the crowd to walk to the Capitol is likely to be crucial evidence during the impeachment trial, with his promise to be with them likely to be under scrutiny.

Despite saying he would march to the Capitol with the crowd, Mr Trump did not attend the riots, as he instead went back to the White House.

Many members of the crowd were under the belief that Mr Trump was with him, which Democrats could argue helped incite the riots and legitimised the rioters beliefs that their actions were okay.

After the rally finished and the crowd began to march to the Capitol, Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani greeted them before getting into a black SUV to depart the area.

In footage captured by ABC News reporter Kevin Lewis, Mr Giuliani spoke and waved to the crowd as people shouted “we love you”. The crowd appeared to be in an upbeat mood as they continued to walk to the Capitol.

Like Mr Trump, Mr Giuliani did not attend the riots on 6 January, despite telling the crowd at the rally moments before that they needed to engage in “trial by combat".

Video footage is also expected to be used by Mr Trump's lawyers during the trial, as they will present video of Democratic lawmakers using "inflammatory rhetoric" during Black Lives Matter protests during summer 2020.

His lawyers will do this to attempt to highlight a perceived hypocrisy between reaction to the mostly peaceful protests in the summer and the riots on 6 January.

THE SPEECHES

Congressional Democrats cited Mr Trump’s full 11,000 word speech at the rally on 6 January in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, calling for an investigation into him for the “instigation, planning and execution” of the attack on the US Capitol.

Following his impeachment by the House, the speech is again likely to play a crucial part in the Senate trial, as Republicans weigh up whether to convict their former president.

Democrats have pointed to Mr Trump’s explicit call to supporters to “walk down to the Capitol” as the most damning piece of evidence to support their claims that he incited the riots that followed his speech.

“Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you.

"We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down, any one you want, but I think right here,” Mr Trump told the crowd in the Ellipse.

“We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women.

"We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” he added.

Analysis from USA Today found that calls for a civil war intensified on social media app Parler, which was favoured by Trump supporters before its service was taken down following the riots, during the minute of the speech where Mr Trump called for his followers to march to the Capitol.

After Mr Trump said to march, one Parler user wrote: “Time to fight. Civil war is upon us.” as another said: “We are going to have a civil war. Get ready!!”

The analysis also found that the use of the phrase "Civil War" increased nearly four times during Mr Trump's speech, as it was used on 156 separate occasions while he spoke.

Shortly after the speech, the crowd marched down to the Capitol, before many of them breached the building and delayed the certification of votes to confirm Mr Biden as US President.

The rally also featured incendiary speeches by Mr Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, and Mr Giuliani.

“To those Republicans, many of which may be voting on things in the coming hours: You have an opportunity today,” Mr Trump Jr told the crowd on 6 January.

“You can be a hero, or you can be a zero. And the choice is yours. But we are all watching. The whole world is watching, folks. Choose wisely,” he added.

Eric Trump echoed his father’s comments, as he told the crowd to continue to “fight” for the election, which Mr Trump and his allies had falsely claimed had been stolen by the Democrats.

“We live in the greatest country in the world, and we will never, ever, ever stop fighting,” he said, before adding: “We need to march on the Capitol today. And we need to stand up for this country. And we need to stand up for what’s right.”

While Mr Giuliani, who led the Trump campaign’s fruitless efforts to overturn November 2020’s election results, told the crowd, “Let's have trial by combat,” in what was one of the most controversial remarks from that rally.

The New York State Bar has moved to disbar Mr Giuliani for his comments, as the events of that day are still being felt across the country.

However, Mr Trump’s lawyers for his impeachment trial have argued that the former president’s speech did not call for his followers to storm the Capitol, and is unconstitutional now that he has left office, as the punishment for impeachment is leaving office.

His lawyers are also expected to claim that Mr Trump's speech is protected by the First Amendment, but this argument was labelled as "frivolous" by 144 First Amendment lawyers and constitutional scholars in a letter on Friday.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have claimed that Mr Trump should be convicted and have argued that he “summoned a mob to Washington, exhorted them into a frenzy, and aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The full transcript of Mr Trump’s speech at the "Save America" rally on 6 January can be read here.

THE TWEETS

Mr Trump’s posts on Twitter on 6 January may also play a part in the impeachment trial, as he posted on the social media platform throughout the day.

The former President, who is now permanently banned from Twitter, was highly combative on the social media platform throughout his four years in office, often goading his opponents and showing his support for his followers.

His posts prior to 6 January could also be key in the trial, as New York University School of Law’s “Just Security” group, which analyses US national security law and policy, has pinpointed 14 of Mr Trump’s tweets during his last year in office that it claims created the conditions for his supporters to try to derail the democratic process in his name in early January.

The group's timeline begins on 20 January 2020, when Mr Trump took to Twitter to express his support for heavily armed 2nd amendment protests in Richmond, Virginia.

He then tweeted his support for armed anti-coronavirus lockdown protests at a number of state capitals in April, while he supported his supporters in Texas who surrounded a Biden campaign bus with cars and trucks.

“I LOVE TEXAS,” he tweeted with a video of the incident, and added: “These patriots did nothing wrong,” when the FBI started an investigation.

While a HuffPost analysis found that Mr Trump had falsely claimed that the election was “rigged” or “stolen” more than 100 times prior to the riots.

The analysis found that between 3 November and January, Mr Trump said that the election was rigged 68 times and that it was stolen 35 times.

He also made at least 250 claims of voter fraud and ballot-counting irregularities, making 45 claims of voter machine issues.

The claims were made on Twitter, rallies and during live press conferences that were watched by millions of people.

Professor Ryan Goodman, Just Security’s editor-in-chief, says that Mr Trump's Twitter activity shows how he constructed a hostile environment that would end with his supporters rejecting democracy.

“The timeline shows how President Trump's statements on the day of the attack of the Capitol were part of a long and consistent pattern of behaviour on his part driving people to the point of violently storming the Capitol,” Mr Goodman said.

"The timeline tracks 365 days that built up to that moment. It shows how the president often glorified violence as a tool to confront perceived political enemies. It is no wonder the mob followed through,” he added.

Mr Trump repeatedly promoted the "Save America" rally prior to the day, and tweeted on 19 December that there would be a “big protest in DC on January 6th,” and added: “Be there, will be wild!”

That tweet was one of many sent out by Mr Trump prior to 6 January, as he planned a rally to coincide with Congress certifying Mr Biden’s election victory.

In responding to a follower tweeting that “the calvary is coming, Mr. President!” on 1 January, Mr Trump wrote: “A great honor!” as he continued to promote the event.

He first tweeted about the election on 6 January at 12:08am, falsely claiming that election officials had “found another 4000 ballots from Fulton County. Here we go!” before adding just 30 minutes later: “Get smart Republicans. FIGHT!”

After taking a break overnight, Mr Trump continued to tweet about the election and the certification process during the morning, repeatedly telling his followers to “be strong”.

Shortly after his speech at the “Save America” rally, Mr Trump said that the “USA demands the truth”, as then vice president Mike Pence confirmed that he would not overturn the election results.

He posted a clip from his speech to Twitter, as riots began to take place outside the Capitol and people started to breach the building.

However, shortly after his supporters breached the building, at 2:38pm, Mr Trump tweeted: "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

He waited around another 30 minutes to explicitly ask for his followers to be peaceful, tweeting at 3:13pm: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

Mr Trump’s second tweet came more than 40 minutes after a mob of his supporters had breached the Capitol building and House representatives had evacuated the area.

After reports surfaced that a woman had been shot dead during the riots, Mr Trump posted a video message to Twitter telling the rioters to leave the area.

At 4:17pm on 6 January, Mr Trump posted a short clip to Twitter, in which he continued to falsely claim that the election had been stolen, but told the rioters: “It’s time to go home”.

His video message was the first time he had told the rioters to leave the area since the events started around 2 hours prior, but he still did not condemn them for the violence that took place.

After the crowd eventually dispersed later in the day, it was confirmed that five people died and several more were injured during the riots.

Although the political make up of the Senate means it is unlikely that Mr Trump will be convicted at his trial, his actions on 6 January are likely to be crucial in helping Democrats convince their Republican colleagues to convict the former president.

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