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In this article published at The Conversation, Alex Newhouse writes that far-right activists made their plans known on social media for weeks in advance. Newhouse is Research Lead at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at Middlebury College. The question arises: If he could read the chatter and see the portents of violence, why didn’t the FBI?

The attack on the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 was shocking, but no one following right-wing activity on social media should have been surprised. The attempt by President Donald Trump’s far-right supporters to violently stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote and formalizing Joe Biden’s election victory was consistent with their openly expressed hopes and plans.

As a researcher of far-right extremism, I monitor right-wing social media communities. For weeks in advance, I watched as groups across the right-wing spectrum declared their intentions. On Facebook, Twitter, Parler and other platforms, influencers, politicians, activists and ordinary people focused on Jan. 6 as their final opportunity to prevent what they claimed was corruption on a monumental scale. 

To most of these activists, there was no possible resolution other than Trump emerging victorious. In the open, they discussed how they were preparing to force Congress and Vice President Mike Pence to nullify the election results and declare Trump the victor. 

The buildup

Conservative groups began organizing for a large-scale protest in Washington, D.C., following a tweet from President Trumpposted on Dec. 18. “Big protest in D.C. on Jan. 6. Be there, will be wild!” he wrote. His instructions were taken seriously by mainstream supporters and far-right extremists alike. 

Stymied repeatedly in their efforts to overturn the election, Trump supporters and right-wing extremists searched for another avenue to reverse election results. For Trump and his supporters, Jan. 6 became a desperate, last-ditch effort. As social media posts showed, this desperation led them to express the righteousness of using violence to force Congress to act in their favor.

Out in the open

In the days preceding the events of Jan. 6, right-wing social media communities frequently discussed preparations, travel plans and hopes for the demonstrations. Across Twitter and Facebook, people began speaking of Jan. 6 in near-mystical terms. By surveying social media data from mid-December to Jan. 5, I discovered thousands of posts referring to the planned protests as if they were a coming revolution.

In some circles, the event became synonymous with a final battle – the moment when all of the supposed crimes of Democrats would be laid bare, and when ordinary Americans would take back the government. “On January 6, we find out whether we still have a constitutional republic,” one user wrote on Twitter on New Year’s Eve. “If not, the revolution begins. I’d rather fight and die than live in a socialist society. Pretty sure 80 million Americans feel the same way.”

Specific references to storming the Capitol also appeared, although infrequently. As one Twitter user put it, “Roberts is the Corrupt-in-chief. January 6. We need to storm Congress and @SCOTUS and arrest Roberts, McConnell, Pelosi, Schumer, McCarthy just to begin the swamp’s draining! #RobertsCorruptInChief.” 

More frequently, QAnon adherents zeroed in on Jan. 6 as the beginning of a chain of events that would lead to apocalyptic cleansing they refer to as “The Storm.” Some even believed that The Storm would arrive during the demonstration itself, and that Trump would, far beyond any reasonable expectation, arrest members of the Democratic and global elite for treason while also winning the election.

Although posts on Facebook and Twitter hinted that more than just protests were possible, nowhere was the coming violence as obvious as on Parler. The site, which has attracted millions of new conservative users in the past year, has positioned itself as a bastion for right-wing conspiracy theories and organizing efforts. From my research, hundreds of Parler users expressed their sincere belief, and even desire, that the demonstrations would spark a physical battle, revolution or civil war. 

“We are ready to fight back and we want blood,” a Parler post from Dec. 28 declared. “The president need to do some thing if Jan. 6 is the day then we are ready.” Another user stated, “January 6 will either be our saving grace or we will have another civil war that should end very quickly!! Either way Trump will be our POTUS!! Anything less is unacceptable!!”

Using tools that allow me to monitor large-scale social media data, I found evidence that right-wing activists had been explicit and open with their intentions for the Jan. 6 demonstrations since at least mid-December. I have no doubt that the demonstration was specifically designed to force Congress to overturn the election. Although the act of storming the Capitol may not have been planned, the demonstrators had prepared for weeks to use at least the threat of physical violence to intimidate Congress and Pence during the certification process.

A pattern of planning and calls for violence

The profound transparency with which right-wing activists planned their demonstrations indicates both that extreme, anti-democratic thought has become normalized on Parler, and that Twitter and Facebook still struggle to moderate open calls to violence. This is not the first time. Right-wing activists have made a habit of organizing in the open and galvanizing supporters to express their desire for violent confrontation. 

Far-right activists have also engaged in online fundraising, including while livestreaming the attack on the Capitol building.

Since the attack, I’ve observed users on Parler, Facebook and Twitter simultaneously celebrating the occupiers and spreading unfounded, dangerous conspiracy theories that the instigators of the violence were actually antifascists and leftists. On Parler, many users have turned on Pence, and calls for the execution of politicians have increased.

Law enforcement and intelligence services should learn from what happened and the apparent lack of preparedness on the part of Capitol police, because this is likely to happen again. It’s impossible to know what will happen next. However, the communities that caused the events of Jan. 6 organized for it openly on social media – and they show every intention of acting again.


Andrea Gabor argues that the violent storming of Congress is reason to revive civics in schools. Clearly, she writes, many Americans do not understand the norms of a democratic government (including, I would add, Trump and most of the elected representatives of the Republican Party).

Last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol may have been incited by President Donald Trump and right-wing politicians, but it was supported by millions of their followers. News reports and public opinion polls make it clear that many Americans believe evidence-free assertions by Trump and his allies of massive voter fraud in the November election and their lies about the power of public officials to overturn the result.

The riot was just the latest and most appalling evidence that a wide swath of the American public doesn’t understand democratic norms. That’s why it should serve as a sputnik moment for an ambitious revival of civics instruction along with expanded training in news literacy.

Nobody’s claiming that the violent extremism on display on Jan. 6 owes its rise mainly to the decades-long de-emphasis of U.S. classroom civics. But it should be a clue that civics is too important to relegate to a semester or two of high school or to sacrifice to other curricular goals. It needs to be woven throughout the K-12 curriculum and go beyond rote instruction in the three-branch structure of the U.S. government, how a bill becomes law and the ins-and-outs of the electoral college.

Last week, educators nationwide were forced to throw out lesson plans and help students make sense of the day’s events. On Twitter, teachers reported students coming to class hungry for answers about everything from the 25th-Amendment process for declaring a president unable to perform his duties to why the Capitol police were more forceful last summer during the Black Lives Matter protests. In Matt Wood’s seventh-grade civics class at Leman Middle School in suburban Chicago, students analyzed images and words used by the news media to describe the Capitol attack — insurrection, coup, insurgency, protest — to determine which ones were most accurate.More fromCall the Senate Vote on Trump’s Removal and Be Done With ItA Breakup Plan to Save Intel and Preserve National SecurityTrump Will Try to Make His Impeachment About Free SpeechThe Pentagon Must Learn to Do More With Less

At a time of heightened political polarization, wrestling with the events of Jan. 6 is a potential minefield for both teachers and students. Teachers need help from civics experts to figure out how to navigate it.

Some districts in Florida thought they could avoid potential blowback from parents by telling educators to avoid discussing the Capitol riot at all, even though Florida has a decade-old civics graduation requirement. That didn’t stop students from pressing teachers for answers. On Twitter, some students, including an eighth grader in Virginia, agonized about how a class discussion had unleashed racist attacks from classmates.

Illinois’s five-year-old civics mandate requires the discussion of “current and controversial issues” and provides an object lesson in how a robust commitment to civics can prepare schools and educators to help students make sense of the things they see on the news. (Illinois was among 11 states that previously had no civics mandate.)

As part of Illinois’s professional developmentofferings, teachers can take weekly civics webinars. Last week, about 50 educators, including math and dance teachers as well as librarians and administrators, joined a webinar on “strategies for using current and controversial issues in the classroom,” which quickly focused on the Capitol attack. It offered resources on voter fraud and how presidential pardons work, as well as the importance of engaging “student voice.”

Participants were encouraged to handle thorny debates by drawing distinctions between “settled” and “open” issues. For example, the constitutional right to abortion has been “settled” by the Supreme Court but efforts to limit or eliminate it remain “open.” Although debating abortion might be “uncomfortable,” noted a Naperville high school social studies teacher during the webinar, doing so teaches students that “civic peace exists because we can hold oppositional views in the same community.”

Counterintuitively, encouraging debate can help teachers avoid political minefields. When one webinar participant argued that teachers should “condemn” the insurgents and denounce them for racism, Wood, whose Chicago-area school is ethnically and politically diverse, countered that having students help guide discussions by encouraging them to ask questions helps to protect teachers from community blowback. It also gives students a greater stake in the conversation.  

For years, civics has been neglected in favor of math and English, subjects with federally mandated annual tests. A new study found that the vast majority of California students “attend schools in districts that do not articulate a substantial focus on civic education.” Most American high school and college students also have trouble judging the credibility of news stories they read online.

Discussion of current events should begin as early as kindergarten, argues Steve Masyada, a civics expert at the University of Central Florida. And schools should begin teaching American history and civics in early grades.

Maryland is one of the few states to embed civics in social studies learning standards for all grades, and to establish a community service graduation requirement.

In Illinois, high-school students have been instrumental in drafting new legislation, including a 2016 school-discipline law and, most recently, a pending bill to observe daylight savings time all year. In earlier grades, students work on community improvement projects and participate in mock U.N. and legislative sessions.

Doubling down on civics and news literacy will require ratcheting back costly and time-consuming annual standardized tests — though a high school test could measure student knowledge and news literacy gleaned over time. One bonus: Mastering the background knowledge needed to understand history and civics is likely to make students better readers, while civics projects would help produce more engaged citizens.

Schools everywhere should be offering after-hours civics classes for families. The federal government should consider sponsoring an advertising campaign aimed at disseminating bite-sized lessons on how to distinguish fact from fiction online. That would be a fitting way to mark the end of Trump.

The Guardian reports that the Club for Growth, a radical rightwing group of the super-rich, poured millions into campaigns to help elect Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and others who took a stand against facts, a fair election, and the U.S. Constitution.

The Club for Growth wants low taxes. Why should the uber-rich expect to pay more in taxes, after all? They hate social programs and anything that enables the federal government to protect the general welfare.

An anti-tax group funded primarily by billionaires has emerged as one of the biggest backers of the Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the US election results, according to an analysis by the Guardian.

The Club for Growth has supported the campaigns of 42 of the rightwing Republicans senators and members of Congress who voted last week to challenge US election results, doling out an estimated $20m to directly and indirectly support their campaigns in 2018 and 2020, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

About 30 of the Republican hardliners received more than $100,000 in indirect and direct support from the group.

The Club for Growth’s biggest beneficiaries include Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, the two Republican senators who led the effort to invalidate Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and the newly elected far-right gun-rights activist Lauren Boebert, a QAnon conspiracy theorist.

The leader of the opposition to Putin’s dictatorial rule is Alexei Navalny. He has campaigned tirelessly and fearlessly against Putin and his corruption. Five months ago, Navalny was poisoned while flying back to Moscow and nearly died. He survived only because he was air-lifted to a German hospital where doctors saved his life and identified the poison, a Soviet-era military-grade chemical agent.

On Sunday, Navalny courageously returned from Berlin to Russia, despite Putin’s threat to detain him. He traveled with his wife Yulia. Navalny said he was a citizen of Russia and was looking forward to going home. His supporters waited for him at the main Moscow airport but the flight was diverted to another airport.

Standing in the airport after landing, Navalny told journalists, “This is the best day in the past five months.””Everyone is asking me if I’m scared. I am not afraid,” he added. “I feel completely fine walking towards the border control. I know that I will leave and go home because I’m right and all the criminal cases against me are fabricated.”

He was detained by local police as soon as he exited border control and was whisked away, without his wife or lawyer.

Trump’s good friend Vlad is a corrupt thug.

Last December, another critic of Putin returned from a year of political exile. He was sent to a remote and isolated Arctic outpost.

On a desolate archipelago in the Russian Arctic — so far from civilization that it was a Soviet nuclear bomb test site in the 1960s — sits a leaky metal hut shaped like a barrel with an icon and a photograph of President Vladimir Putin on the wall inside.
There are no trees, no Internet, no landline or mobile phone connection and no water on site except for melted snow and ice. Hungry polar bears are all around. So the outpost at Cherakino seems a perfect place to revive the practice of political exile in Putin’s Russia, opposition leaders contend.


It’s here that Russia’s military sent one of the country’s most promising opposition politicians, Ruslan Shaveddinov, after security agents in black masks broke down his door and seized him from his home in December 2019...

Russian authorities have sent many other opposition members for compulsory military service in remote and harsh locations. The aim, Shaveddinov contended, is to deter political activism among a new generation, many of whom are alienated by Putin’s repression and attempts to curb Internet freedom.
“With every year it gets worse and worse and there is less and less freedom,” he said. “There are more political repressions and more political prisoners, and fewer possibilities for the opposition to operate.


“The machine eats and destroys everyone,” he said, referring to Russia’s repressive security apparatus. He believes he was sent to the “botchka” to break him — “but I was not going to give them that gift…”

When he returned, Shaveddinov carried home a bag full of letters from supporters and well-wishers. A final digital footprint of his journey remains: The “botchka” was marked on Google Maps by supporters, nicknamed “Shaveddinov’s Gas Station,” attracting a bunch of five-star “reviews” that are actually messages of support.
“There are bears. It’s cold. But the company is great,” wrote one supporter, Mikhail Samin.

Timothy Snyder, a historian at Yale University, specializes in the history of fascism, wrote a powerful essay about Trump and his Insurrection for the New York Times. It is called “The American Abyss.” Snyder is the author of the best-selling book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. I urge you to subscribe to the New York Times so you can read this essay and see the powerful photographs taken by photographs from the newspaper.

In this essay, he writes:

When Donald Trump stood before his followers on Jan. 6 and urged them to march on the United States Capitol, he was doing what he had always done. He never took electoral democracy seriously nor accepted the legitimacy of its American version.

Even when he won, in 2016, he insisted that the election was fraudulent — that millions of false votes were cast for his opponent. In 2020, in the knowledge that he was trailing Joseph R. Biden in the polls, he spent months claiming that the presidential election would be rigged and signaling that he would not accept the results if they did not favor him. He wrongly claimed on Election Day that he had won and then steadily hardened his rhetoric: With time, his victory became a historic landslide and the various conspiracies that denied it ever more sophisticated and implausible.

People believed him, which is not at all surprising. It takes a tremendous amount of work to educate citizens to resist the powerful pull of believing what they already believe, or what others around them believe, or what would make sense of their own previous choices. Plato noted a particular risk for tyrants: that they would be surrounded in the end by yes-men and enablers. Aristotle worried that, in a democracy, a wealthy and talented demagogue could all too easily master the minds of the populace. Aware of these risks and others, the framers of the Constitution instituted a system of checks and balances. The point was not simply to ensure that no one branch of government dominated the others but also to anchor in institutions different points of view.

In this sense, the responsibility for Trump’s push to overturn an election must be shared by a very large number of Republican members of Congress. Rather than contradict Trump from the beginning, they allowed his electoral fiction to flourish. They had different reasons for doing so. One group of Republicans is concerned above all with gaming the system to maintain power, taking full advantage of constitutional obscurities, gerrymandering and dark money to win elections with a minority of motivated voters. They have no interest in the collapse of the peculiar form of representation that allows their minority party disproportionate control of government. The most important among them, Mitch McConnell, indulged Trump’s lie while making no comment on its consequences.

Yet other Republicans saw the situation differently: They might actually break the system and have power without democracy. The split between these two groups, the gamers and the breakers, became sharply visible on Dec. 30, when Senator Josh Hawley announced that he would support Trump’s challenge by questioning the validity of the electoral votes on Jan. 6. Ted Cruz then promised his own support, joined by about 10 other senators. More than a hundred Republican representatives took the same position. For many, this seemed like nothing more than a show: challenges to states’ electoral votes would force delays and floor votes but would not affect the outcome.

Yet for Congress to traduce its basic functions had a price. An elected institution that opposes elections is inviting its own overthrow. Members of Congress who sustained the president’s lie, despite the available and unambiguous evidence, betrayed their constitutional mission. Making his fictions the basis of congressional action gave them flesh. Now Trump could demand that senators and congressmen bow to his will. He could place personal responsibility upon Mike Pence, in charge of the formal proceedings, to pervert them. And on Jan. 6, he directed his followers to exert pressure on these elected representatives, which they proceeded to do: storming the Capitol building, searching for people to punish, ransacking the place.

Of course this did make a kind of sense: If the election really had been stolen, as senators and congressmen were themselves suggesting, then how could Congress be allowed to move forward? For some Republicans, the invasion of the Capitol must have been a shock, or even a lesson. For the breakers, however, it may have been a taste of the future. Afterward, eight senators and more than 100 representatives voted for the lie that had forced them to flee their chambers.

Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.

Post-truth wears away the rule of law and invites a regime of myth. These last four years, scholars have discussed the legitimacy and value of invoking fascism in reference to Trumpian propaganda. One comfortable position has been to label any such effort as a direct comparison and then to treat such comparisons as taboo. More productively, the philosopher Jason Stanley has treated fascism as a phenomenon, as a series of patterns that can be observed not only in interwar Europe but beyond it.

My own view is that greater knowledge of the past, fascist or otherwise, allows us to notice and conceptualize elements of the present that we might otherwise disregard and to think more broadly about future possibilities. It was clear to me in October that Trump’s behavior presaged a coup, and I said so in print; this is not because the present repeats the past, but because the past enlightens the present.

Like historical fascist leaders, Trump has presented himself as the single source of truth. His use of the term “fake news” echoed the Nazi smear Lügenpresse (“lying press”); like the Nazis, he referred to reporters as “enemies of the people.” Like Adolf Hitler, he came to power at a moment when the conventional press had taken a beating; the financial crisis of 2008 did to American newspapers what the Great Depression did to German ones. The Nazis thought that they could use radio to replace the old pluralism of the newspaper; Trump tried to do the same with Twitter.

Thanks to technological capacity and personal talent, Donald Trump lied at a pace perhaps unmatched by any other leader in history. For the most part these were small lies, and their main effect was cumulative. To believe in all of them was to accept the authority of a single man, because to believe in all of them was to disbelieve everything else. Once such personal authority was established, the president could treat everyone else as the liars; he even had the power to turn someone from a trusted adviser into a dishonest scoundrel with a single tweet. Yet so long as he was unable to enforce some truly big lie, some fantasy that created an alternative reality where people could live and die, his pre-fascism fell short of the thing itself.

Some of his lies were, admittedly, medium-size: that he was a successful businessman; that Russia did not support him in 2016; that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Such medium-size lies were the standard fare of aspiring authoritarians in the 21st century. In Poland the right-wing party built a martyrdom cult around assigning blame to political rivals for an airplane crash that killed the nation’s president. Hungary’s Viktor Orban blames a vanishingly small number of Muslim refugees for his country’s problems. But such claims were not quite big lies; they stretched but did not rend what Hannah Arendt called “the fabric of factuality.”

One historical big lie discussed by Arendt is Joseph Stalin’s explanation of starvation in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-33. The state had collectivized agriculture, then applied a series of punitive measures to Ukraine that ensured millions would die. Yet the official line was that the starving were provocateurs, agents of Western powers who hated socialism so much they were killing themselves. A still grander fiction, in Arendt’s account, is Hitlerian anti-Semitism: the claims that Jews ran the world, Jews were responsible for ideas that poisoned German minds, Jews stabbed Germany in the back during the First World War. Intriguingly, Arendt thought big lies work only in lonely minds; their coherence substitutes for experience and companionship.

In November 2020, reaching millions of lonely minds through social media, Trump told a lie that was dangerously ambitious: that he had won an election that in fact he had lost. This lie was big in every pertinent respect: not as big as “Jews run the world,” but big enough. The significance of the matter at hand was great: the right to rule the most powerful country in the world and the efficacy and trustworthiness of its succession procedures. The level of mendacity was profound. The claim was not only wrong, but it was also made in bad faith, amid unreliable sources. It challenged not just evidence but logic: Just how could (and why would) an election have been rigged against a Republican president but not against Republican senators and representatives? Trump had to speak, absurdly, of a “Rigged (for President) Election.”

The force of a big lie resides in its demand that many other things must be believed or disbelieved. To make sense of a world in which the 2020 presidential election was stolen requires distrust not only of reporters and of experts but also of local, state and federal government institutions, from poll workers to elected officials, Homeland Security and all the way to the Supreme Court. It brings with it, of necessity, a conspiracy theory: Imagine all the people who must have been in on such a plot and all the people who would have had to work on the cover-up.

Trump’s electoral fiction floats free of verifiable reality. It is defended not so much by facts as by claims that someone else has made some claims. The sensibility is that something must be wrong because I feel it to be wrong, and I know others feel the same way. When political leaders such as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan spoke like this, what they meant was: You believe my lies, which compels me to repeat them. Social media provides an infinity of apparent evidence for any conviction, especially one seemingly held by a president.

On the surface, a conspiracy theory makes its victim look strong: It sees Trump as resisting the Democrats, the Republicans, the Deep State, the pedophiles, the Satanists. More profoundly, however, it inverts the position of the strong and the weak. Trump’s focus on alleged “irregularities” and “contested states” comes down to cities where Black people live and vote. At bottom, the fantasy of fraud is that of a crime committed by Black people against white people.

It’s not just that electoral fraud by African-Americans against Donald Trump never happened. It is that it is the very opposite of what happened, in 2020 and in every American election. As always, Black people waited longer than others to vote and were more likely to have their votes challenged. They were more likely to be suffering or dying from Covid-19, and less likely to be able to take time away from work. The historical protection of their right to vote has been removed by the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, and states have rushed to pass measures of a kind that historically reduce voting by the poor and communities of color.

The claim that Trump was denied a win by fraud is a big lie not just because it mauls logic, misdescribes the present and demands belief in a conspiracy. It is a big lie, fundamentally, because it reverses the moral field of American politics and the basic structure of American history.

When Senator Ted Cruz announced his intention to challenge the Electoral College vote, he invoked the Compromise of 1877, which resolved the presidential election of 1876. Commentators pointed out that this was no relevant precedent, since back then there really were serious voter irregularities and there really was a stalemate in Congress. For African-Americans, however, the seemingly gratuitous reference led somewhere else. The Compromise of 1877 — in which Rutherford B. Hayes would have the presidency, provided that he withdrew federal power from the South — was the very arrangement whereby African-Americans were driven from voting booths for the better part of a century. It was effectively the end of Reconstruction, the beginning of segregation, legal discrimination and Jim Crow. It is the original sin of American history in the post-slavery era, our closest brush with fascism so far.

If the reference seemed distant when Ted Cruz and 10 senatorial colleagues released their statement on Jan. 2, it was brought very close four days later, when Confederate flags were paraded through the Capitol.

Some things have changed since 1877, of course. Back then, it was the Republicans, or many of them, who supported racial equality; it was the Democrats, the party of the South, who wanted apartheid. It was the Democrats, back then, who called African-Americans’ votes fraudulent, and the Republicans who wanted them counted. This is now reversed. In the past half century, since the Civil Rights Act, Republicans have become a predominantly white party interested — as Trump openly declared — in keeping the number of voters, and particularly the number of Black voters, as low as possible. Yet the common thread remains. Watching white supremacists among the people storming the Capitol, it was easy to yield to the feeling that something pure had been violated. It might be better to see the episode as part of a long American argument about who deserves representation.

The Democrats, today, have become a coalition, one that does better than Republicans with female and nonwhite voters and collects votes from both labor unions and the college-educated. Yet it’s not quite right to contrast this coalition with a monolithic Republican Party. Right now, the Republican Party is a coalition of two types of people: those who would game the system (most of the politicians, some of the voters) and those who dream of breaking it (a few of the politicians, many of the voters). In January 2021, this was visible as the difference between those Republicans who defended the present system on the grounds that it favored them and those who tried to upend it.

In the four decades since the election of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have overcome the tension between the gamers and the breakers by governing in opposition to government, or by calling elections a revolution (the Tea Party), or by claiming to oppose elites. The breakers, in this arrangement, provide cover for the gamers, putting forth an ideology that distracts from the basic reality that government under Republicans is not made smaller but simply diverted to serve a handful of interests.

At first, Trump seemed like a threat to this balance. His lack of experience in politics and his open racism made him a very uncomfortable figure for the party; his habit of continually telling lies was initially found by prominent Republicans to be uncouth. Yet after he won the presidency, his particular skills as a breaker seemed to create a tremendous opportunity for the gamers. Led by the gamer in chief, McConnell, they secured hundreds of federal judges and tax cuts for the rich.

Trump was unlike other breakers in that he seemed to have no ideology. His objection to institutions was that they might constrain him personally. He intended to break the system to serve himself — and this is partly why he has failed. Trump is a charismatic politician and inspires devotion not only among voters but among a surprising number of lawmakers, but he has no vision that is greater than himself or what his admirers project upon him. In this respect his pre-fascism fell short of fascism: His vision never went further than a mirror. He arrived at a truly big lie not from any view of the world but from the reality that he might lose something.

Yet Trump never prepared a decisive blow. He lacked the support of the military, some of whose leaders he had alienated. (No true fascist would have made the mistake he did there, which was to openly love foreign dictators; supporters convinced that the enemy was at home might not mind, but those sworn to protect from enemies abroad did.) Trump’s secret police force, the men carrying out snatch operations in Portland, was violent but also small and ludicrous. Social media proved to be a blunt weapon: Trump could announce his intentions on Twitter, and white supremacists could plan their invasion of the Capitol on Facebook or Gab. But the president, for all his lawsuits and entreaties and threats to public officials, could not engineer a situation that ended with the right people doing the wrong thing. Trump could make some voters believe that he had won the 2020 election, but he was unable to bring institutions along with his big lie. And he could bring his supporters to Washington and send them on a rampage in the Capitol, but none appeared to have any very clear idea of how this was to work or what their presence would accomplish. It is hard to think of a comparable insurrectionary moment, when a building of great significance was seized, that involved so much milling around.

The lie outlasts the liar. The idea that Germany lost the First World War in 1918 because of a Jewish “stab in the back” was 15 years old when Hitler came to power. How will Trump’s myth of victimhood function in American life 15 years from now? And to whose benefit?

On Jan. 7, Trump called for a peaceful transition of power, implicitly conceding that his putsch had failed. Even then, though, he repeated and even amplified his electoral fiction: It was now a sacred cause for which people had sacrificed. Trump’s imagined stab in the back will live on chiefly thanks to its endorsement by members of Congress. In November and December 2020, Republicans repeated it, giving it a life it would not otherwise have had. In retrospect, it now seems as though the last shaky compromise between the gamers and the breakers was the idea that Trump should have every chance to prove that wrong had been done to him. That position implicitly endorsed the big lie for Trump supporters who were inclined to believe it. It failed to restrain Trump, whose big lie only grew bigger.

The breakers and the gamers then saw a different world ahead, where the big lie was either a treasure to be had or a danger to be avoided. The breakers had no choice but to rush to be first to claim to believe in it. Because the breakers Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz must compete to claim the brimstone and bile, the gamers were forced to reveal their own hand, and the division within the Republican coalition became visible on Jan. 6. The invasion of the Capitol only reinforced this division. To be sure, a few senators withdrew their objections, but Cruz and Hawley moved forward anyway, along with six other senators. More than 100 representatives doubled down on the big lie. Some, like Matt Gaetz, even added their own flourishes, such as the claim that the mob was led not by Trump’s supporters but by his opponents.

Trump is, for now, the martyr in chief, the high priest of the big lie. He is the leader of the breakers, at least in the minds of his supporters. By now, the gamers do not want Trump around. Discredited in his last weeks, he is useless; shorn of the obligations of the presidency, he will become embarrassing again, much as he was in 2015. Unable to provide cover for their gamesmanship, he will be irrelevant to their daily purposes. But the breakers have an even stronger reason to see Trump disappear: It is impossible to inherit from someone who is still around. Seizing Trump’s big lie might appear to be a gesture of support. In fact it expresses a wish for his political death. Transforming the myth from one about Trump to one about the nation will be easier when he is out of the way.

As Cruz and Hawley may learn, to tell the big lie is to be owned by it. Just because you have sold your soul does not mean that you have driven a hard bargain. Hawley shies from no level of hypocrisy; the son of a banker, educated at Stanford University and Yale Law School, he denounces elites. Insofar as Cruz was thought to have a principle, it was that of states’ rights, which Trump’s calls to action brazenly violated. A joint statement Cruz issued about the senators’ challenge to the vote nicely captured the post-truth aspect of the whole: It never alleged that there was fraud, only that there were allegations of fraud. Allegations of allegations, allegations all the way down.

The big lie requires commitment. When Republican gamers do not exhibit enough of that, Republican breakers call them “RINOs”: Republicans in name only. This term once suggested a lack of ideological commitment. It now means an unwillingness to throw away an election. The gamers, in response, close ranks around the Constitution and speak of principles and traditions. The breakers must all know (with the possible exception of the Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville) that they are participating in a sham, but they will have an audience of tens of millions who do not.

If Trump remains present in American political life, he will surely repeat his big lie incessantly. Hawley and Cruz and the other breakers share responsibility for where this leads. Cruz and Hawley seem to be running for president. Yet what does it mean to be a candidate for office and denounce voting? If you claim that the other side has cheated, and your supporters believe you, they will expect you to cheat yourself. By defending Trump’s big lie on Jan. 6, they set a precedent: A Republican presidential candidate who loses an election should be appointed anyway by Congress. Republicans in the future, at least breaker candidates for president, will presumably have a Plan A, to win and win, and a Plan B, to lose and win. No fraud is necessary; only allegations that there are allegations of fraud. Truth is to be replaced by spectacle, facts by faith.

Trump’s coup attempt of 2020-21, like other failed coup attempts, is a warning for those who care about the rule of law and a lesson for those who do not. His pre-fascism revealed a possibility for American politics. For a coup to work in 2024, the breakers will require something that Trump never quite had: an angry minority, organized for nationwide violence, ready to add intimidation to an election. Four years of amplifying a big lie just might get them this. To claim that the other side stole an election is to promise to steal one yourself. It is also to claim that the other side deserves to be punished.

Informed observers inside and outside government agree that right-wing white supremacism is the greatest terrorist threat to the United States. Gun sales in 2020 hit an astonishing high. History shows that political violence follows when prominent leaders of major political parties openly embrace paranoia.

Our big lie is typically American, wrapped in our odd electoral system, depending upon our particular traditions of racism. Yet our big lie is also structurally fascist, with its extreme mendacity, its conspiratorial thinking, its reversal of perpetrators and victims and its implication that the world is divided into us and them. To keep it going for four years courts terrorism and assassination.

When that violence comes, the breakers will have to react. If they embrace it, they become the fascist faction. The Republican Party will be divided, at least for a time. One can of course imagine a dismal reunification: A breaker candidate loses a narrow presidential election in November 2024 and cries fraud, the Republicans win both houses of Congress and rioters in the street, educated by four years of the big lie, demand what they see as justice. Would the gamers stand on principle if those were the circumstances of Jan. 6, 2025?

To be sure, this moment is also a chance. It is possible that a divided Republican Party might better serve American democracy; that the gamers, separated from the breakers, might start to think of policy as a way to win elections. It is very likely that the Biden-Harris administration will have an easier first few months than expected; perhaps obstructionism will give way, at least among a few Republicans and for a short time, to a moment of self-questioning. Politicians who want Trumpism to end have a simple way forward: Tell the truth about the election.

America will not survive the big lie just because a liar is separated from power. It will need a thoughtful repluralization of media and a commitment to facts as a public good. The racism structured into every aspect of the coup attempt is a call to heed our own history. Serious attention to the past helps us to see risks but also suggests future possibility. We cannot be a democratic republic if we tell lies about race, big or small. Democracy is not about minimizing the vote nor ignoring it, neither a matter of gaming nor of breaking a system, but of accepting the equality of others, heeding their voices and counting their votes.


Timothy Snyder is the Levin professor of history at Yale University and the author of histories of political atrocity including “Bloodlands” and “Black Earth,” as well as the book “On Tyranny,” on America’s turn toward authoritarianism. His most recent book is “Our Malady,” a memoir of his own near-fatal illness reflecting on the relationship between health and freedom. Ashley Gilbertson is an Australian photojournalist with the VII Photo Agency living in New York. Gilbertson has covered migration and conflict internationally for over 20 years.

This link will take you to interviews conducted by ABC’s WJLA in the District of Columbia.

Three police officers and the chief of the D.C. Metropolitan Police describe what happened on January 6.

One of them was dragged out of one of the Capitol entrances and beaten with his own baton.

Another was crushed inside a door and nearly had an eye gouged out.

They describe a mob that was bent on mayhem and destruction. They describe a mob that wanted blood.

What you will hear is the voices of men and a woman sworn to uphold the law and to protect the Constitution.

They risked their lives for us.

Dana Milbank writes that the Republican Party deserves to die because so many of its members chose fealty to Trump over loyalty to the country. Even after the failed coup attempt, when their own lives were in danger, they still fought to overturn the legitimate election of Joe Biden and to install Trump for a second term, without having won the election. Trump instigated the coup attempt. Evidence is slowly accumulating that the storming of the Capitol was premeditated and coordinated. Fortunately it failed. But make no mistake: Those who continue to support Trump after his incitement of a riot against Congress are traitors, like him.

If any good could possibly come of the Trump-incited mob’s murderous attack on the United States Capitol, and the people’s representatives therein, it would be the demise of this Republican Party.

Even as Trump-inspired barbarians overran Capitol Police Wednesday, fatally injuring one, to defile and plunder the Capitol, official word came that Democrats had won the second Georgia Senate seat, exiling Republicans to the political wilderness for the first time in a decade, without control of the White House, House or Senate.

And, at the same time, the whole world saw the defeated leader of this Republican Party use the awesome powers of the presidency to instigate an insurrection against the legislature — a coup attempt, plain and simple. After the last time Republicans lost the presidency, in 2012, they famously held an “autopsy” to see what had gone wrong. This time, President Trump went straight to the cremation, throwing the Capitol, with Vice President Pence in it, onto the funeral pyre.

So many sounded the alarm for so long about Trump’s authoritarian instincts and violent rhetoric. For years, he instigated threats and violence against journalists (“enemy of the people”), racial and religious minorities, immigrants and Democrats. Yet Republicans excused him, defended him, enabled him. Now, in defeat, the autocrat showed the world his true colors and mobilized violence against Congress, Republicans included, and his own vice president.

What Trump’s mob did to the Capitol — the first time the seat of American government had been sacked since the War of 1812 — was evil. It was murder. It was domestic terrorism. It was sedition. And, yes, it was treason.

Yet what Trump’s Republican allies were doing inside the chambers of Congress at the time of the attack — Trump’s justification for inciting the riot — was just as seditious: They were attempting to overturn Joe Biden’s election as president, overrule the voters and install Trump, by fiat, for another term.

The GOP was born, from the ashes of the Whigs, under similar circumstances. The Whigs in 1848 jettisoned their core principle — limited presidential power — in favor of political expediency. Instead of nominating one of their legendary statesmen — Daniel Webster or Henry Clay — the Whigs went with celebrity war-hero Zachary Taylor, an enslaver who was popular with Southerners but had no governing experience and no fealty to Whig principles. Taylor won, but he savaged Whig leaders and Whig doctrine. The party, split over slavery, dissolved.

In 2016, McGill University historian Gil Troy, presciently noting the parallel deal with the devil Republicans made with Trump, wrote in Politico: “Many Republicans might want to consider what is worse: the institutional problems mass defections by ‘Conscience Republicans’ could bring about — or the moral ruin that could come from the ones who stay behind, choosing to pursue party power over principles.”

Today’s morally ruined Republican Party knows the answer. “The ultimate challenge to the Republican Party is: Do they want to find their soul again? Do they want to be patriots again?” Troy told me this week. It comes down to whether “there are enough people in the party to say, ‘We’ve gone to the brink. How do we pull back?’”

Trump administration officials now announcing last-minute resignations, after excusing similar abuses for years, are hardly profiles in courage. Eleventh-hour epiphanies from the likes of chief Trump enablers Pence, Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), though welcome, are unpersuasive. They have the ability to remove Trump from power immediately; any further damage he does is on them.

But the seditious actions this week in Congress to overturn the election and overthrow the incoming Biden presidency provide a useful delineation: which Republicans have followed Trump off the cliff of authoritarianism and which still have some respect for democratic principles.

In the Senate, there are signs of hope. After the insurrection in the Capitol, several senators proposing to overturn the election results reconsidered, leaving only eight Republican senators beyond all salvation: ringleaders Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.), with blood on their hands; and Rick Scott (Fla.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Roger Marshall (Kan.).

In the House, prospects for Republican redemption are dimmer. Even after Trump’s mob brought siege and death to the Capitol, two-thirds of Republicans voted to overturn the election. They weren’t just the usual nutters — Jim Jordan (Ohio), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.), Lee Zeldin (N.Y.) — but also House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Steve Scalise (La.).

As long as such people remain in positions of honor, trust or profit under the United States, the Republican Party will not be a participant in constitutional democracy, but rather an entity dedicated to its destruction.

Arthur Camins reviews recent political history as a way to understand how Democrats lost their principles and values.

Democrats became the party identified with both civil rights and labor, if tepidly on both counts. However, they never fully embraced a multiracial movement for social and economic justice. Neither movement overcame mutual distrust. Segments of working- and middle-class Americans who found economic success in the post-war period began to experience social and economic insecurity. They responded positively to Republicans’ full-frontal law and order, anti-government racist appeals.  In response, a group of Democrats identified as the Democratic Leadership Council offered a counter-strategy to gain or maintain diminishing influence.  In essence, it amounted to acting more like Republicans in language and policy.  They welcomed corporate campaign contributions and deregulation, backed away from integration, became less pro-union, embraced the conservative rhetoric of personal responsibility, public-private partnerships, and individual choice and competition in both education and healthcare.

At the same time, disparate movements for women’s, LGTBQ, and marriage rights, and protecting the environment met with some success and shifted predominant values but did not coalesce into a broader unifying movement for change.

While Democrats did elect Clinton and Obama as two-term presidents, they lost control of the majority of statehouses.  Even the momentous election of the first Black president did not fundamentally alter Republican political or ideological hegemony. The Democratic strategy amounted to concessions on big ideas and values.  Their compromises on the core idea that government is responsible for the well-being of all failed.  They continually repeated, “Chance to climb the latter of success if you work hard and play by the rules,” rhetoric. As the saying goes, you can’t be a little bit pregnant.  Either a political party represents full support for equity and democracy or not. Republicans controlled the terms of the debate. The result of the Democrats’ a little-bit progressive and a little-bit conservative strategy was a loss of credibility with great swaths of Americans.

Centrism and neoliberalism left the Democrats as an empty vessel, offering nothing substantially different from Republicans. Then came Trumpism, with its full-throated embrace of the worst, most hateful strains in American political life.

The only Democratic answer to the lived precariousness with which too many struggle is to fight for and establish security for all with no exceptions.  Programs pitched to help some but not all, such as the Affordable Care Act or charter schools, divide and alienate rather than unify.

The enabling ideas of racist appeals are that inequity is inevitable, whites and the wealthy are more worthy than people of color and the poor, and that their gain must come at the expense of white people. Ensuring a decent life for all and the unified struggle required to attain it cannot happen without a direct reckoning with the divisive role of white supremacy.  Acting to challenge this explicitly in ideas and deed is the only answer to Trumpism.

During the debate about impeachment, Trump’s defenders said the speech he gave to a rally on January 6 never encouraged violence and that his words were protected by the First Amendment. The event began at 11 a.m. and was called the “SAVE AMERICA MARCH.” Did he incite violence? Was he responsible for the mob that vandalized the Capitol? Read the speech and reach your own conclusion.

This is the verbatim speech that Trump delivered before a large crowd that morning, annotated by Aaron Blake of the Washington Post. If you read the speech, you will see that he recites numerous instances of voter fraud but never admits that his campaign lost 60 or more cases in state and federal courts because they were unable to supply evidence of voter fraud. Not even the judges he appointed agreed with his claims of voter fraud, nor did Attorney General Bill Barr, nor did Christopher Krebs, director of Cybersecurity for the Officeof Homeland Security, fired by Trump after he said that the election was fair.

As the crowd left Trump’s speech, they walked to the Capitol, where Congress was in the midst of certifying the Electoral College vote. The crowd turned into a mob and violently attacked the Capitol Police, stormed the building, broke windows to gain entry, and scaled the building. Once inside, some chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” Others went in search of Nancy Pelosi. They attacked members of the Capitol Police, smashed doors, and forcibly gained entry to the floor of the House and the Senate. One rioter was killed trying to be first to lunge through a broken window into the Senate or House chambers. A Capitol Police Officer was killed when someone in the mob hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher. Dozens of other Capitol Police were injured. The mob breached the House second-floor gallery less than one minute after about 30 members were led to safety.

During the debate about impeachment, Trump’s defenders said his words never encouraged violence and that they were protected by the First Amendment. Read the speech and reach your own conclusion.

TRUMP: Media will not show the magnitude of this crowd. Even I, when I turned on today, I looked, and I saw thousands of people here, but you don’t see hundreds of thousands of people behind you because they don’t want to show that. We have hundreds of thousands of people here, and I just want them to be recognized by the fake news media. Turn your cameras, please, and show what is really happening out here, because these people are not going to take it any longer, they’re not going to take it any longer.1

1 Trump’s speech begins with a suggestion that his supporters — whose numbers he vastly overstates as being in the hundreds of thousands — are “not going to take it any longer.” The speech ahead will be littered with references to the idea that his movement is in a desperate moment.

Go ahead, turn your cameras, please. Would you show they came from all over the world actually, but they came from all over our country. I just really want to see what they do. I just want to see how they cover it. I’ve never seen anything like it, but it would be really great if we could be covered fairly by the media. The media is the biggest problem we have as far as I’m concerned, single biggest problem.

(APPLAUSE)

The fake news and the big tech, big tech, is now coming into their own. We beat them four years ago, we surprised them. We took him by surprise and this year they rigged an election, they rigged it like they have never rigged an election before, and by the way, last night, they didn’t do a bad job either, if you notice. I am honest, and I just again, I want to thank you. It’s just a great honor to have this kind of crowd and to be before you and hundreds of thousands of American patriots who are committed to the honesty of our elections and the integrity of our glorious Republic.

All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by bold and radical left Democrats, which is what they are doing, and stolen by the fake news media. That is what they have done and what they are doing. We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.2

2 Trump spoke less than two hours before Congress would begin making his loss official But he assured the crowd that he will “never concede.” What’s notable here is that he lumps in his supporters in that posture, also saying, “We will never give up.” It’s important to emphasize here that, once Congress accepts the results, there is no more legal recourse. Trump is urging people to continue a fight that in a few hours will have no method of success through the normal processes.

(APPLAUSE)

Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about.3

3 Another reference to the desperation of the moment. As with some of the above, it includes no reference to the crowd using force — which Trump will avoid throughout the speech — but pitches the moment as some kind of last stand.

(APPLAUSE)

And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal4.

4 “Stop the Steal” is a group that organized this rally and others like it across the country. One of its organizers is Ali Alexander, a conspiracy theorist who has inhabited the fringes of the conservative movement. The name, as with much of Trump’s rhetoric, references the idea that the election is being deliberately stolen rather than that there are simply doubts about its legitimacy. Here, Trump assures his audience that the stolen election “will” be stopped.

(APPLAUSE)

Today I will lay out just some of the evidence proving that we won this election and we won it by a landslide. This was not a close election. You know I say sometimes jokingly, but there’s no joke about it. I have been in two elections. I won them both and the second one I won much bigger than the first, okay?

(APPLAUSE)

Almost 75 million people voted for our campaign, the most of any incumbent president by far in the history of our country; 12 million more than four years ago.

(APPLAUSE)

And I was told by the real pollsters; we do have real pollsters. They know that we were going to do well and we were going to win. What I was told, if I went from 63 million, which we had four years ago, to 66 million, there was no chance of losing. Well, we didn’t go to 66, we went to 75 million, and they say we lost. We didn’t lose. And by the way, does anybody believe that Joe had 80 million votes? Does anybody believe that?

(BOOING)

He had 80 million computer votes. It’s a disgrace. There’s never been anything like that. You can take Third World countries, just take a look, take Third World countries, their elections are more honest than what we have been going through in this country. It’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace. Even when you look at last night, they were all running around like chickens with their heads cut off with boxes, and nobody knows what the hell is going on. There’s never been anything like this. We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen.

(APPLAUSE)

Not going to let it happen.

CROWD: Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump.

TRUMP: Thank you.

CROWD: Fight for Trump.

TRUMP: And I would love to have, if those tens of thousands of people would be allowed, the military, the Secret Service and we want to thank you — and the police and law enforcement — great, you’re doing a great job. But I would love it if they could be allowed to come up with us. Is that possible? Can you just let them, please?

And Rudy, you did a great job. (APPLAUSE) He’s got guts. You know what? He’s got guts, unlike a lot of people in the Republican Party, he’s got guts, he fights, he fights.5 And I will tell you thank you very much, John [Eastman], fantastic job. I watched — that’s a tough act to follow those two. John is one of the most brilliant lawyers in the country and he looked at this, and he said what an absolute disgrace that this could be happening to our Constitution, and he looked at Mike Pence, and I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.

5 “Rudy” refers to Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Shortly before Trump’s speech, Giuliani had called for a “trial by combat” — one of the more overt references to violence at the rally. It is not clear whether Trump was aware of that controversial remark, but here he endorses what Giuliani said.

All he has to do — all — this is — this is from the number one or certainly one of the top constitutional lawyers in our country. He has the absolute right to do it. We’re supposed to protect our country, support our country, support our Constitution and protect our Constitution. States want to revote, the states got defrauded. They were given false information, they voted on it. Now they want to recertify; they want it back. All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people.

(APPLAUSE)

And I actually, I just spoke to Mike. I said, Mike, that doesn’t take courage, what takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage, and then we are stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot, and we have to live with that for four more years. We’re just not going to let that happen.6

6 This is a crucial section: Trump concludes his recounting of a conversation with Vice President Pence by, again, suggesting that his supporters won’t abide a lack of compliance. Legal experts and many Republican lawmakers agreed that Pence could do nothing to prevent Congress from accepting the certified results of these states, and Pence had signaled that he would not attempt to. But Trump suggests that there is something the rally could — and will — do to halt that.

Many of you have traveled from all across the nation to be here, and I want to thank you for the extraordinary love. That is what it is; there’s never been a movement like this ever, ever for the extraordinary love for this amazing country. And this amazing movement. Thank you.

CROWD: We love Trump. We love Trump. We love Trump. We love Trump. We love Trump. We love Trump. We love Trump. We love Trump. We love Trump.

TRUMP: By the way, this goes all the way back past the Washington Monument. Do you believe this? Look at this. Unfortunately, they gave the press the prime seats. I can’t stand that. No, but you look at that behind. I wish they would flip those cameras and look behind you. That is the most amazing sight.

When they make a mistake, you get to see it on television, amazing. Amazing. All of the way back and don’t worry. We will not take the name off the Washington Monument. We will not. Cancel culture. They wanted to get rid of the Jefferson Memorial, either take it down or just put somebody else in there. I don’t think that’s going to happen. It damn well better not, even though with this administration if this happens, it could happen. You will see some really bad things happen. They will knock out Lincoln, too, by the way. They have been taking his statute down, but then we signed a little law, you hurt our monuments, you hurt our heroes, you go to jail for 10 years, and everything stopped. You notice that it stopped?

(APPLAUSE)

It all stopped, and they could use Rudy back in New York City, Rudy.

(APPLAUSE)

They could use you. Your city is going to hell. They want Rudy Giuliani back in New York. We will get a little younger version of Rudy. Is that okay, Rudy? We’re gathered together in the heart of our nation’s capital for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy.

(APPLAUSE)

You know most candidates on election evening, and of course, this thing goes on so long they still don’t have any idea what the votes are. We still have congressional seats under review. They have no idea. They have totally lost control; they have used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people in a proper election, but you know, you know when you see this and when you see what is happening, number one they all say, sir, we will never let it happen again. I said that’s good, but what about eight weeks ago?

[*]TRUMP: You know they try and get you to go, they say, sir, in four years you are guaranteed. I said, I’m not interested right now. Do me a favor. Go back eight weeks. I want to go back eight weeks. Let’s go back eight weeks.

(APPLAUSE)

We want to go back, and we want to get this right, because we’re going to have somebody in there that should not be in there, and our country will be destroyed. And we’re not going to stand for that.7

7 Another reference to the immediacy of the moment — including the idea that Biden being allowed to win would mean the country “will be destroyed.” And Trump yet again alludes to the idea that his supporters won’t just let it happen.

(APPLAUSE)

For years, Democrats have gotten away with election fraud and weak Republicans. And that’s what they are. There’s so many weak Republicans. And we have great ones. Jim Jordan and some of these guys, they are out there fighting. The House guys are fighting, but it’s — it’s incredible. Many of the Republicans, I helped them get in. I helped them get elected. I helped Mitch get elected. I helped —

(BOOING)

I could name 24 of them, let’s say. I won’t bore you with it. And then all of a sudden, you have something like this. There is like oh, gee, maybe I’ll talk to the president sometime later. No, it’s amazing. The weak Republicans. They’re pathetic Republicans, and that’s what happens.

If this happened to the Democrats, there’d be hell all over the country going on. There’d be hell all over the country.8 But just remember this, you’re stronger, you’re smarter. You’ve got more going than anybody, and they try and demean everybody having to do with us, and you’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down our nation.9

8 This is a favorite rhetorical device of Trump’s: alluding to the idea that Democrats are somehow tougher and more willing to raise “hell” in such situations. Given how often Trump employs this device, it’s not difficult to read it as implying that he’d like to see his own supporters respond more forcefully — whatever form that force might take.

9 A particularly striking line given that shortly after this speech, Trump’s supporters would storm the Capitol — a deliberate attempt to tear down our government.

(APPLAUSE)

The weak Republicans — and that’s it, I really believe it. I think I’m going to use the term. The weak Republicans. You’ve got a lot of them and you’ve got a lot of great ones. But you’ve got a lot of weak ones. They’ve turned a blind eye.

Even as Democrats enacted policies that shipped away our jobs, weakened our military, threw open our borders, and put America last. Did you see the other day where Joe Biden said I want to get rid of the America-first policy. What’s that all about? Get rid of — how do you say I want to get rid of America first? Even if you’re going to do it, don’t talk about it, right?

(LAUGHTER)

Unbelievable, what we have to go through. What we have to go through — and you have to get your people to fight. And if they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. We primary them.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re going to — we’re going to let you know who they are. I can already tell you, frankly. But this year, using the pretext of the China virus and the scam of mail-in ballots, Democrats attempted the most brazen and outrageous election theft. And there’s never been anything like this. It’s a pure theft in American history. Everybody knows it.

That election, our election was over at 10 in the evening. We’re leading Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia. By hundreds of thousands of votes, and then late in the evening or early in the morning, boom. These explosions of bullshit, and all of the sudden — (APPLAUSE) — all of a sudden, it started to happen.10

10 Trump has employed coarse language plenty of times as president, but this line whipped up his supporters like few in the speech.

CROWD: Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

TRUMP: Don’t forget, when Romney got beat — Romney. Did you see his —

(APPLAUSE)

I wonder if he enjoyed his flight in last night.

(APPLAUSE)

But when Romney got beat, you know, he stands up like your more typical — well, I’d like to congratulate the victor. The victor. Who was the victor, Mitt? I’d like to congratulate. They don’t go in and look at the facts. Oh, I don’t know. You’ve got — he got slaughtered, probably. Maybe it was okay, maybe it was — that’s what happened.

But we look at the facts, and our election was so corrupt that in the history of this country, we’ve never seen anything like it. You could go all the way back. You know, America is blessed with elections. All over the world they talk about our elections. You know what the world says about us now? They said we don’t have free and fair elections.

And you know what else? We don’t have a free and fair press. Our media is not free, it’s not fair. It’s suppresses thought. It suppresses speech, and it’s become the enemy of the people. It’s become the enemy of the people. It’s a — it’s the biggest problem we have in this country. No Third World countries would even attempt to do what we caught them doing. And you’ll hear about that in just a few minutes. Republicans are —

(APPLAUSE)

Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer. And we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. And we’re going to have to fight much harder.11 And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.

11 Another reference to the idea that Democrats, whom Trump previously said would raise “hell” in such a situation, are willing to go further than his supporters. As with much of the speech, Trump’s references to fighting don’t include overt references to using literal force. But he suggests that more extreme measures are warranted and not being undertaken.

(APPLAUSE)

Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down — (APPLAUSE) — we’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol — (APPLAUSE) — and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. (LAUGHTER) Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness.12 You have to show strength and you have to be strong.

12 Trump makes his first reference to the crowd descending upon the Capitol. He says he will be with them, but he did not do so due to obvious security concerns. Trump notably suggests that the purpose is to either cheer on lawmakers who do the right thing or protest those who don’t.

(APPLAUSE)

We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated. Lawfully slated.

(APPLAUSE)

I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.13 Today, we will see whether Republicans stand strong for the integrity of our elections. But whether or not they stand strong for our country — our country, our country has been under siege for a long time. Far longer than this four-year period.

13 This is the line that Trump’s allies — including Giuliani — have regularly used to defend him against allegations that his speech incited the violence. It is worth noting that Trump directly urged people to “peacefully” make their voices heard at the Capitol. As is often the case, though, Trump co-mingled that with far different messages: The idea that this couldn’t be allowed to happen, the idea that it would lead to disaster, and the idea that Democrats wouldn’t respond so peacefully. And many of Trump’s supporters seemed to internalize that message more than this one.

We set it on a much straighter course, a much — and we — I thought, you know, four more years. I thought it would be easy. We created the greatest economy in history. We rebuilt our military. We get you the biggest tax cuts in history, right? We got the biggest regulation cuts. There is no president, whether it’s four years, eight years, or in one case more got anywhere near the regulation cuts.

It used to take 20 years to get the highway approved. Now we’re down to two. I want to get it down to one, but we’re down to two. And it may get rejected for environmental or safety reasons, but we got it down, the safety. We created Space Force. We — and look what we did. Our military has been totally rebuilt. So we create Space Force, which by and of itself is a major achievement for an administration. And with us, it’s one of so many different things.

Right to try. Everybody know about right to try. We did things that nobody ever thought possible. We took care of our vets. Our vets. The VA now has the highest rating. 91 percent. The highest rating that it’s had from the beginning. 91 percent approval rate rating. Always, you watch the VA. It was on television. Every night, people living in a horrible, horrible manner. We got that done and we got accountability done.

We got it so that now in the VA, you don’t have to wait for four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, four months to see a doctor. If you can’t get a doctor, you go outside, you get the doctor, you have him taken care of, and we pay the doctor. And we’ve not only made life wonderful for so many people, we’ve saved tremendous amounts of money, secondarily. But we’ve saved a lot of money.

And now we have the right to fire bad people in the VA. We had 9,000 people they treated our veterans horribly. In prime time, they would not have treated our veterans badly. But they treated our veterans horribly and we have what’s called the account — VA Accountability Act. And the accountability says if we see somebody in there that doesn’t treat our vets well or they steal, they rob, they do things badly, we say Joe, you’re fired. Get out of here.

(APPLAUSE)

Before, you couldn’t do that. You couldn’t do that before. So we’ve taken care of things. We’ve done things like nobody’s ever thought possible, and that’s part of the reason that many people don’t like us because we’ve done too much. But we’ve done it quickly.

And we were going to sit home and watch a big victory and everybody had us down for a victory. It was going to be great. And now we’re out here fighting. I said to somebody, I was going to take a few days and relax after our big electoral victory. 10:00, it was over and I was going to take a few days.

And I can say this. Since our election, I believe — which was such a catastrophe when I watched, and even these guys knew what happened. They know what happened. They’re saying wow. Pennsylvania is insurmountable. Wow. Wisconsin. Look at the big leads we had, right?

Even, you know, the press said we’re going to lose Wisconsin by 17 points. Even though the press said Ohio’s going to be close, we set a record. Florida’s going to be close. We set a record. Texas is going to be close.

(APPLAUSE)

Texas is going to be close. We set a record. And we set a record with Hispanics, with the Black community. We set a record with everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

Today, we see a very important event, though, because right over there, right there, we see the event that’s going to take place, and I’m going to be watching because history is going to be made. We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity. They’ll be ashamed. And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never, ever forget that they did. Never forget.14

14 The “very important event” wound up being something quite different than Congress making a decision about accepting Biden’s win.

(APPLAUSE)

We should never, ever forget. With only three of the seven states in question, we win the presidency of the United States. And, by the way, it’s much more important today than it was 24 hours ago because — and don’t — I spoke to David Perdue. What a great person. And Kelly Loeffler, two great people.

But it was a setup and you know, I said we have no back line anymore. The only back line, the only line of demarcation, the only line that we have is the veto of the president of the United States. So, this is now, what we’re doing, a far more important election than it was two days ago.

I want to thank the more than 140 members of the House. Those are warriors.15 They’re over there working like you’ve never seen before, studying, talking, actually going all the way back studying the roots of the Constitution because they know we have the right to send a bad vote that was illegally gotten.

15 Trump is hardly the only politician to use battle metaphors while whipping up his supporters, but he’s certainly taken it to another level. Most notably, he has referred to his supporters as an “Army for Trump.”

They gave these people bad things to vote for and they voted, because what did they know. And then, when they found out a few weeks later, again, it took them four years to devise this great — and the only unhappy person in the United States, single most unhappy, is Hillary Clinton, because she said, “Why didn’t you do this for me four years ago?”

(LAUGHTER)

“Why didn’t you do this for me four years ago? Change the votes, 10,000 in Michigan. You could have changed the whole thing.” But she’s not too happy. You notice, she — you don’t see her anymore. What happened? Where’s Hillary? Where is she?

But I want to thank all of those congressmen and women. I also want to thank our 13 most courageous members of the U.S. Senate, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Ron Johnson —

(APPLAUSE)

— Senator Josh Hawley, Kelly Loeffler. And, Kelly Loeffler, I’ll tell you, she has been — she has been so great. She works so hard, so let’s give her and David a little special hand, because it was rigged against them. Let’s give her and David — Kelly Loeffler, David Perdue.

(APPLAUSE)

They fought a good race. They never had a shot. That equipment should never have been allowed to be used. And, I was telling these people, “Don’t let them use this stuff.” Marsha Blackburn, terrific person, Mike Braun, Indiana, Steve Daines, great guy, Bill Hagerty, John Kennedy, James Lankford, Cynthia Lummis, Tommy Tuberville, the coach, and Roger Marshall. We want to thank them. Senators have stepped up. We want to thank them.

(APPLAUSE)

I actually think, though, it takes, again, more courage not to step up and I think a lot of those people are going to find that out. And you better start looking at your leadership because your leadership has led you down the tubes.

You know, “We don’t want to give $2,000 to people. We want to give them $600.” Oh, great. How does that play politically? Pretty good? And this has nothing to do with politics, but how does it play politically?

China destroyed these people. We didn’t destroy them. China destroyed them, totally destroyed them. “We want to give them $600,” and they just wouldn’t change. I said, “Give them $2,000, we’ll pay it back, we’ll pay it back fast. You already owe $26 trillion. Give them a couple of bucks. Let them live. Give them a couple of bucks.”

(APPLAUSE)

And, some of the people here disagree with me on that, but I — I just say, look, you’ve got to let people live. And, how does that play, though? Okay, number one, it’s the right thing to do. But, how does that play politically?

I think it’s the primary reason — one of the primary reasons, the other was just pure cheating — that was the primary — super primary reason. But you can’t do that. You’ve got to use your head.

As you know, the media has constantly asserted the outrageous lie that there was no evidence of widespread fraud. You ever see these people? “While there’s no evidence of fraud.” Oh, really? Well, I’m going to read you pages. I hope you don’t get bored listening to it. Promise? Don’t get bored listening to it, all those hundreds of thousands of people back there.

Move them up, please. Yeah. All they — all these people, don’t get bored. Don’t get angry at me because you’re going to get bored, because it’s so much. The American people do not believe the corrupt fake news anymore. They have ruined their reputation.

(APPLAUSE)

But you know, it used to be that they’d argue with me. I’d fight. So, I’d fight, they’d fight, I’d fight, they’d fight, bump, bump, you’d believe me, you’d believe them. Somebody comes out. You know, they had their point of view, I had my point of view. But you’d have an argument.

Now what they do is they go silent. It’s called suppression and that’s what happens in a communist country. That’s what they do. They suppress. You don’t fight with them anymore unless it’s a bad story. If they have a little bad story about me, they make it ten times worse and it’s a major headline.

But Hunter Biden, they don’t talk about him. What happened to Hunter? Where’s Hunter? Where is Hunter? They don’t talk about him.

(APPLAUSE)

Now watch, all the sets will go off. Well, they can’t do that because they get good ratings. Their ratings are too good.

Now, where’s Hunter, you know? And — and how come Joe was allowed to give $1 billion of money to get rid of the prosecutor in Ukraine? How does that happen? I’d ask you that question. How does that happen?

Can you imagine if I said that? If I said that, it would be a whole different ballgame. And, how come Hunter gets 3½ million dollars from the mayor of Moscow’s wife and gets hundreds of thousands of dollars to sit on an energy board even though he admits he has no knowledge of energy and millions of dollars upfront? And how come they go into China and they leave with billions of dollars to manage?

“Have you managed money before?” “No, I haven’t.” “Oh, that’s good, here’s about $3 billion.”

No, they don’t talk about that. No, we have a corrupt media. They’ve gone silent. They’ve gone dead. I now realize how good it was, if you go back 10 years. I realize how good — even though I didn’t necessarily love them, I realize how good — it was like a cleansing motion, right?

But we don’t have that anymore. We don’t have a fair media anymore. It’s suppression and you have to be very careful with that, and they’ve lost all credibility in this country.

We will not be intimidated into accepting the hoaxes and the lies that we’ve been forced to believe. Over the past several weeks, we’ve amassed overwhelming evidence about a fake election. This is the presidential election. Last night was a little bit better because of the fact that we had a lot of eyes watching one specific state, but they cheated like hell anyway. You have one of the dumbest governors in the United States.

(LAUGHTER)

And, you know, when I endorsed him at — I didn’t know this guy — at the request of David Perdue. He said, “A friend of mine is running for governor,” “What’s his name?” and you know the rest. He was in fourth place, fifth place. I don’t know, he was way — he was doing poorly. I endorsed him. He went like a rocket ship and he won.

And then I had to beat Stacey Abrams with this guy, Brian Kemp. I had to beat Stacey Abrams and I had to beat Oprah, used to be a friend of mine. You know, I was on her last show, her last week. She picked the five outstanding people. I don’t think she thinks that anymore.

Once I ran for president, I didn’t notice too many calls coming in from Oprah. Believe it or not, she used to like me. But I was one of the five outstanding people and I had to campaign against Michelle Obama and Barack Hussein Obama, against Stacey.

(BOOING)

And I had Brian Kemp who weighs 130 pounds. He said he played offensive line in football. I’m trying to figure that out. I’m still trying to figure that out. He said that the other night. “I was an offensive lineman.” I’m saying, “Really? That must have been a very small team.”

(LAUGHTER)

But I look at that and I look at what’s happened and he turned out to be a disaster. This stuff happens. You know, look, I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They love to rule against me. I picked three people. I fought like hell for them. One in particular I fought.

They all said, “Sir, cut him loose, he’s killing the senators.” You know, very loyal senators. They’re very loyal people.

“Sir, cut him loose. He is killing us, sir. Cut him loose, sir.” I will never — I must have gotten half of these senators. I said no, I can’t do that. It’s unfair to him, and it’s unfair to the family. He didn’t do anything wrong. They made up stories. They were all made-up stories. He didn’t do anything wrong. Cut him loose, sir. I said no, I won’t do that. We got him through, and you know what, they couldn’t give a damn. They couldn’t give a damn. Let him rule the right way, but it almost seems that they are all going out of their way to hurt all of us and to hurt our country, to hurt our country.

You know I read a story in one of the newspapers recently how I control the three Supreme Court justices. I control them. They are puppets. I read it about Bill Barr that he is my personal attorney, that he will do anything for me, and I said you know it really is genius because what they do is that and it makes it really impossible for them to ever give you a victory because all of the sudden Bill Barr changed, if you hadn’t noticed. I like Bill Barr, but he changed because he didn’t want to be considered my personal attorney.

And the Supreme Court, they rule against me so much, do you know why, because the story is I haven’t spoken to any of them, any of them since virtually they got in, but the story is that they are my puppet, right? That they are puppets, and now the only way they can get out of that because they hate that; it’s not good on the social circuit, and the only way they get out is to rule against Trump, so let’s rule against Trump, and they do that. So I want to congratulate them, but it shows you the media is genius. In fact, probably if I was the media, I would do it the same way, I hate to say it, but we have got to get them straightened out. Today for the sake of our democracy, for the sake of our Constitution, and for the sake of our children, we lay out the case for the entire world to hear. You want to hear it?

(APPLAUSE)

In every single swing state, local officials, state officials almost all Democrats made illegal and unconstitutional changes to election procedures without the mandated approvals by the state legislatures that these changes paved the way for fraud on a scale never seen before, and I think we would go a long way outside of our country when I say that. So just in a nutshell, you can’t make a change on voting for a federal election unless the state legislature approves it. No judge can do it; nobody can do it, only a legislature.

So as an example, in Pennsylvania or whatever, you have a Republican legislature, you have a Democrat mayor, and you have a lot of Democrats all over the place; they go to the legislature, the legislature laughs at them says we’re not going to do that, they say thank you very much and they go and make the changes themselves, they do it anyway, and that is totally illegal, that is totally illegal. You can’t do that.

In Pennsylvania, the Democrat secretary of state and the Democrat state Supreme Court justices illegally abolished the signature verification requirements just 11 days prior to the election. So think of what they did. No longer is there signature verification. That’s okay. We want voter ID, by the way, but no longer is there signature verification. 11 days before the election, they say we don’t want it. Do you know why they don’t want them? Because they want to cheat, that’s the only reason. Who would even think of that? We don’t want to verify a signature.

There were over 205,000 more ballots counted in Pennsylvania. Now think of this, you had 205,000 more ballots than you had voters. That means you had to — where did they come from? Do you know where they came from? Somebody’s imagination, whatever they need it. So in Pennsylvania, you had 205,000 more votes than you had voters, and it’s — the number is actually much greater than that now. That was as of a week ago, and this is a mathematical impossibility unless you want to say it’s a total fraud. So if Pennsylvania was defrauded.

Over 8,000 ballots in Pennsylvania were cast by people whose names and dates of birth match individuals who died in 2020 and prior to the election. Think of that. Dead people, lots of dead people, thousands, and some dead people actually requested an application. That bothers me even more. Not only are they voting, they want an application to vote; one of them was 29 years ago died. It’s incredible.

Over 14,000 ballots were cast by out-of-state voters, so these are voters that don’t live in the state, and by the way, these numbers are what they call outcome-determinative, meaning these numbers far surpass — I lost by a very little bit. These numbers are massive, massive. More than 10,000 votes in Pennsylvania were illegally counted even though they were received after Election Day. In other words, they were received after Election Day. Let’s count them anyway and what they did in many cases is they did fraud, they took the date, and they moved it back so that it no longer is after Election Day.

And more than 60,000 ballots in Pennsylvania were reported received back, they got back before they were ever supposedly mailed out. In other words, you got the ballot back before you mailed it, which is also logically and logistically impossible, right? Think of that one. You got that ballot back. Let’s send the ballots. Oh, they’ve already been sent. But we got the ballot back before they were sent. I don’t think that’s too good, right?

25,000 ballots in Pennsylvania were requested by nursing home residents, all in a single giant batch, not legal, indicating an enormous illegal ballot harvesting operation. You are not allowed to do it. It’s against the law. The day before the election, the state of Pennsylvania reported the number of absentee ballots that had been sent out, yet this number was suddenly and drastically increased by 400,000 people. It was increased; nobody knows where it came from by 400,000 ballots one day after the election. It remains totally unexplained. They said, well, we can’t figure that. Now that’s many, many times what it would take to overthrow the state, just that one element, 400,000 ballots appeared from nowhere right after the election.

By the way, Pennsylvania has now seen all of this. They didn’t know because it was so quick they had a vote, they voted, but now they see all of this stuff, it has all come to light. It doesn’t happen that fast. And they want to recertify their votes. They want them recertified, but the only way that can happen is if Mike Pence agrees to send it back. Mike Pence has to agree to send it back.

CROWD: Send it back. Send it back. Send it back. Send it back. Send it back. Send it back.

TRUMP: And many people in Congress want it sent back. Think of what you are doing. Let’s say you don’t do it, somebody says, well, we have to obey the Constitution and you are because you are protecting our country, and you are protecting the Constitution, so you are, but think of what happens.

Let’s say there are stiffs and they are stupid people and they say, well, we really have no choice even though Pennsylvania and other states want to redo their votes, they want to see the numbers, they only have the numbers go very quickly and they want to redo their legislature because many of these votes were taken, as I said, because it wasn’t approved by their legislature, you know that in itself is legal, and then you have the scam and that is all of the things that we are talking about.

But think of this: If you don’t do that, that means you will have a president of the United States for four years with his wonderful son, you will have a president who lost all of these states, or you will have a president, to put it another way, who was voted on by a bunch of stupid people who lost all of these states. You will have an illegitimate president. That is what you will have, and we can’t let that happen.16These are the facts that you won’t hear from the fake news media. It’s all part of the suppression effort. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to talk about it.

16 Again, Trump pitches Biden’s ascension to the presidency as unconscionable, saying that “we can’t let that happen” — even though it was a foregone conclusion through the regular processes.

In fact, when I started talking about that, I guarantee you a lot of the television sets and a lot of those cameras went off, and that’s a lot of cameras back there. But a lot of them went off, but these are the things you don’t hear about, you don’t hear what you just heard, and I’m going to go over a few more states, but you don’t hear of the people who want to deceive you and demoralize you and control you big tech media just like the suppression polls that said we are going to lose Wisconsin by 17 points. Well, we won Wisconsin. They don’t have it that way because they just buy a little sliver, but they had me down the day before. Washington Post ABC poll, down 17 points. I called up a real pollster. I said, what is that? “Sir, that’s called a suppression poll. I think you are going to win Wisconsin, sir.” I said, “But why don’t they make it four or five points,” because then people vote. But when you’re down 17, they say, ‘Hey, I’m not going to waste my time. I love the president, but there’s no way.’ Despite that — despite that, we won Wisconsin. It’s going to see — I mean, you’ll see.

(APPLAUSE)

But that’s called suppression because a lot of people when they see that — it’s very interesting. This pollster said, “Sir, if you’re down three, four, five, people vote. When you go down 17, they say let’s save — let’s go and have dinner and let’s watch the presidential defeat tonight on television, darling.”

And just like the radical left tries to blacklist you on social media, every time I put out a tweet that’s — even if it’s totally correct, totally correct — I get a flag. I get a flag. And they also don’t let you get out. You know, on Twitter, it’s very hard to come on to my account. It’s very hard to get out a message. They don’t let the message get out nearly like they should.

But I’ve had many people say I can’t get on your Twitter. I don’t care about Twitter. Twitter is bad news. They are all bad news. But you know what? If you want to — if you want to get out a message and if you want to go through big tech, social media, they are really — if you’re a conservative, if you’re a Republican, if you have a big voice, I guess they call it shadow ban, right? Shadow ban. They shadow ban you and it should be illegal. I’ve been telling these Republicans get rid of Section 230.

(APPLAUSE)

And for some reason, Mitch and the group, they don’t want to put it in there and they don’t realize that that’s going to be the end of the Republican Party as we know it, but it’s never going to be the end of us. Never.

(APPLAUSE)

Let them get out. Let — let the weak ones get out. This is a time for strength. They also want to indoctrinate your children in school by teaching them things that aren’t so. They want to indoctrinate your children. It’s all part of a comprehensive assault on our democracy, and the American people are finally standing up and saying no. This crowd is, again, a testament to it.

I did no advertising. I did nothing. You do have some groups that are big supporters. I want to thank that. Amy and everybody. We have some incredible supporters. Incredible. But we didn’t do anything. This just happened. Two months ago, we had a massive crowd come down to Washington. I said what are they there for? Sir, they’re there for you. We had nothing to do with it.

These groups are formed — they’re forming all over the United States. And we’ve got to remember, in a year from now, you’re going to start working on Congress and we’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world. We’ve got to get rid of them. We’ve got to get rid.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, she never wants a soldier brought home. I brought a lot of our soldiers home. I don’t know. Some might like it. They’re in countries that nobody even knows the name. Nobody knows where they are. They’re dying. They’re great, but they’re dying. They are losing their arms, their legs, their face. I brought them back home. Largely back home.

Afghanistan, Iraq. Remember I used to say in the old days, don’t go in Iraq. But if you go in, keep the oil. We didn’t keep the oil. So stupid. So stupid, these people. And Iraq has billions and billions of dollars now in the bank. And what did we do? We did get nothing. We never get — but we do, actually. We kept the oil here. We kept — we did good.

We got rid of the ISIS caliphate. We got rid of plenty of different things. Everybody knows, and the rebuilding of our military in three years, people said it couldn’t be done and it was all made in the USA. All made in the USA. Best equipment in the world.

In Wisconsin, corrupt Democrat-run cities deployed more than 500 illegal unmanned, unsecured drop boxes, which collected a minimum of 91,000 unlawful votes. It was razor thin, the loss. This one thing alone is much more than we would need, but there are many things.

They have these lockboxes. And you know, they pick them up and they disappear for two days. People would say where’s that box? They’d disappeared. Nobody even knew where the hell it was. In addition, more than 170,000 absentee votes were counted in Wisconsin without a valid absentee ballot application. So they had a vote, but they had no application and that’s illegal in Wisconsin. Meaning, those votes were blatantly done in opposition to state law and they came 100 percent from Democrat areas such as Milwaukee and Madison. 100 percent.

In Madison, 17,000 votes were deposited in so-called human drop boxes. You know what that is, right? Where operatives stuff thousands of unsecured ballots into duffel bags on park benches across the city in complete defiance of cease and desist letters from state legislature. The state legislatures said don’t do it. They’re the only ones that could approve it.

They gave tens of thousands of votes. They came in duffel bags. Where the hell did they come from? According to eyewitness testimony, Postal Service workers in Wisconsin were also instructed to illegally backdate approximately 100,000 ballots. The margin of difference in Wisconsin was less than 20,000 votes. Each one of these things alone wins us the state. Great state. We love the state. We won the state.

In Georgia, your secretary of state, who I can’t believe this guy is a Republican. He loves recording telephone conversations. You know, that was a — I thought it was a great conversation, personally. So did a lot of other — people love that conversation because it says what’s going on. These people are crooked. They are 100 percent — in my opinion, one of the most corrupt.

Between your governor and your secretary of state — and now you have it again last night. Just take a look at what happened. What a mess. And the Democrat Party operatives entered into an illegal and unconstitution — unconstitutional settlement agreement that drastically weakens signature verification and other election security procedures.

Stacey Abrams, she took them to lunch. And I beat her two years ago with a bad candidate, Brian Kemp. But they took — the Democrats took the Republicans to lunch because the secretary of state had no clue what the hell was happening — unless he did have a clue. That’s interesting. Maybe he was with the other side.17

17 Trump completely baselessly suggests that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) was acting as something of a double-agent. Raffensperger has said his family has received death threats amid Trump’s regular attacks on him. It’s a great example of Trump whipping his supporters up with completely evidence-free claims.

But we’ve been trying to get verifications of signatures in Fulton County. They won’t let us do it. The only reason they won’t is because we’ll find things in the hundreds of thousands. Why wouldn’t they let us verify signatures at Fulton County, which is known for being very corrupt? They won’t do it. They go to some other county where you would live.

I said that’s not the problem. The problem is Fulton County, home of Stacey Abrams. She did a good job. I congratulate her, but it was done in such a way that we can’t let this stuff happen. We won’t have a country if it happens. As a result, Georgia’s absentee ballot rejection rate was more than 10 times lower than previous levels because the criteria was so off.

Forty-eight counties in Georgia with thousands and thousands of votes rejected zero ballots. There wasn’t one ballot. In other words, in a year in which more mail-in ballots were sent than ever before and more people were voting by mail for the first time, their rejection rate was drastically lower than it had ever been before.

The only way this can be explained as if tens of thousands of illegitimate votes were added to the tally. That’s the only way you could explain it. By the way, you’re talking about tens of thousands. If Georgia had merely rejected the same number of unlawful ballots as in other years, there should have been approximately 45,000 ballots projected. Far more than what we needed to win, just over 11,000. They should find those votes. They should absolutely find that. Just over 11,000 votes. That’s all we need.

They defrauded us out of a win in Georgia. And we are not going to forget it. There’s only one reason the Democrats could possibly want to eliminate signature matching, oppose voter ID, and stop citizenship confirmation. Are you a citizen? You’re not allowed to ask that question. Because they want to steal the election.

The radical left knows exactly what they were doing. They are ruthless, and it’s time that somebody did something about it.18 And Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. (APPLAUSE) And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories.

18 “It’s time that somebody did something about it” is followed immediately by suggesting that Pence should be that “somebody.” But Trump is yet again alluding to supposedly extraordinary measures that he believes his side won’t emulate Democrats in taking. It’s one of many nebulous calls to some kind of action that Trump’s supporters seem to have taken in a very specific way.

In Fulton County, Republican poll watchers rejected in some cases physically, the individuals whose names and dates of birth match incarcerated felons in Georgia prison, people who are not allowed to vote. More than 4,500 illegal ballots were cast by individuals who do not appear on the state’s own voter rolls. Over 18,000 illegal ballots were cast by individuals who registered to vote using an address listed as vacant, according to the Postal Service.

At least 88,000 ballots in Georgia were cast by people whose registrations were illegally backdated. Sixty-six thousand votes — each one of these is far more than we need. Sixty-six thousand votes in Georgia were cast by individuals under the legal voting age, and at least 15,000 ballots were cast by individuals who moved out of the state prior to the November 3 election. They say they moved right back.

They moved right back. Oh, they moved out, they moved right back, okay. They missed Georgia that much? I do, I love Georgia, but it’s a corrupt system.

Despite all of this, the margin in Georgia is only 11,779 votes. Each and every one of these issues is enough to give us a victory in Georgia, a big beautiful victory. Make no mistake, this election was stolen from you, from me, and from the country, and not a single swing state has conducted a comprehensive audit to remove the illegal ballots.19 This should absolutely occur in every single contested state before the election is certified.

19 After the violent scenes at the Capitol, a number of Republicans have cited Trump’s rhetoric about a “stolen” election as being beyond the pale and potentially fomenting the violence. It’s worth noting that, while most of them didn’t echo this charge for the past two months, few of them objected to it in real time or cautioned of the dangers it could pose.

In the state of Arizona, over 36,000 ballots were illegally cast by noncitizens. Two thousand ballots were returned with no address. More than 22,000 ballots were returned before they were ever supposedly mailed out. They returned, but we haven’t mailed them yet. 11,600 more ballots and votes were counted more than there were actual voters. You see that?

So, you have more votes, again, than you have voters. 150,000 people registered in Maricopa County after the registration deadline. 103,000 ballots in the county were sent for electronic adjudication with no Republican observers.

In Clark County, Nevada, the accuracy settings on signature verification machines were purposefully lowered before they were used to count over 130,000 ballots. If you signed your name as Santa Claus, it would go through.

There were also more than 42,000 double votes in Nevada. Over 150,000 people were hurt so badly by what took place and 1,500 ballots were cast by individuals whose names and dates of birth match Nevada residents who died in 2020 prior to November 3 election. More than 8,000 votes were cast by individuals who had no address and probably didn’t live there.

The margin in Nevada is down at a very low number. Any of these things would have taken care of the situation. We would have won Nevada also. Every one of these we’re going over, we win.

In Michigan, quickly, the secretary of state, a real great one, flooded the state with unsolicited mail-in ballot applications sent to every person on the rolls in direct violation of state law. More than 17,000 Michigan ballots were cast by individuals whose names and dates of birth match people who were deceased.

In Wayne County, that’s a great one. That’s Detroit — 174,000 ballots were counted without being tied to an actual registered voter. Nobody knows where they came from. Also in Wayne County, poll watches observed canvassers rescanning batches of ballots over and over again up to three or four or five times.

In Detroit, turnout was 139 percent of registered voters. Think of that. So, you had 139 percent of the people in Detroit voting. This is in Michigan, Detroit Michigan. A career employee of the Detroit — City of Detroit testified under penalty of perjury that she witnessed city workers coaching voters to vote straight Democrat while accompanying them to watch who they voted for. When a Republican came in, they wouldn’t talk to them.

The same worker was instructed not to ask for any voter ID and not to attempt to validate any signatures if they were Democrats. She also was told to illegally … and was told backdate ballots, received after the deadline, and reports of thousands and thousands of ballots were improperly backdated.

That’s Michigan. Four witnesses have testified under penalty of perjury that after officials in Detroit announced the last votes had been counted, tens of thousands of additional ballots arrived without required envelopes. Every single one was for a Democrat. I got no votes.

At 6:31 a.m. in the early morning hours after voting had ended, Michigan suddenly reported 147,000 votes. An astounding 94 percent went to Joe Biden who campaigned brilliantly from his basement. Only a couple of percentage points went to Trump.

Such gigantic and one-sided vote dumps were only observed in a few swing states and they were observed in the states where it was necessary — you know what’s interesting? President Obama beat Biden in every state other than the swing states where Biden killed them, but the swing states were the ones that mattered.

They’re always just enough to push Joe Biden barely into the lead. We were ahead by a lot and within a number of hours, we were losing by a little.

In addition, there is the highly troubling matter of Dominion voting systems. In one Michigan County alone, 6,000 votes were switched from Trump to Biden and the same systems are used in the majority of states in our country.

Senator William Ligon, a great gentleman, chairman of Georgia Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, Senator Ligon, highly respected on elections, has written a letter describing his concerns with Dominion in Georgia.

He wrote, and I quote, “The Dominion voting machines employed in Fulton County had an astronomical and astounding 93.67 percent error rate.” It’s only wrong 93 percent of the time. In the scanning of ballots requiring a review panel to adjudicate or determine the voters’ interest in over 106,000 ballots out of a total of 113,000.

Think of it, you go in and you vote and then they tell people who you’re supposed to be voting for. They make up whatever they want. Nobody’s ever even heard. They adjudicate your vote. They say: “Well, we don’t think Trump wants to vote for Trump. We think he wants to vote for Biden. Put it down for Biden.”

The national average for such an error rate is far less than 1 percent, and yet you’re at 93 percent. The source of this astronomical error rate must be identified to determine if these machines were set up or destroyed to allow for a third party to disregard the actual ballot cast by the registered voter.

The letter continues, “There is clear evidence that tens of thousands of votes were switched from President Trump to former Vice President Biden in several counties in Georgia.” For example, in Bibb County, President Trump was reported to have 29,391 votes at 9:11 p.m. Eastern time while simultaneously, Vice President Joe Biden was reported to have 17,213.

Minutes later, just minutes, at the next update, these vote numbers switched with President Trump going way down to 17,000 and Biden going way up to 29,391. And, that was very quick, a 12,000-vote switch all in Mr. Biden’s favor.

So, I mean, I could go on and on about this fraud that took place in every state and all of these legislators want this back. I don’t want to do it to you because I love you and it’s freezing out here.

(LAUGHTER)

But I could just go on forever. I can tell you this —

CROWD: We love you, we love you, we love you.

TRUMP: So, when you hear — when you hear, “While there is no evidence to prove any wrongdoing,” this is the most fraudulent thing anybody’s — this is a criminal enterprise. This is a criminal enterprise.20And the press will say — and I’m sure they won’t put any of that on there because that’s no good and did you ever see — “While there is no evidence to back President Trump’s assertion.” I could go on for another hour reading this stuff to you and telling you about it.

20 Here, Trump alludes to the idea that the election of an American president was guided by a “criminal enterprise.” It’s the ratcheting up of the “stolen” rhetoric, suggesting an expansive and nefarious network of people.

There’s never been anything like it. Think about it. Detroit had more votes than it had voters. Pennsylvania had 205,000 more votes than it had more — but you don’t have to go — between that, I think that’s almost better than dead people if you think, right? More votes than they had voters and many other states also. It’s a disgrace that the United States of America, tens of millions of people are allowed to go vote without so much as even showing identification. In no state is there any question or effort made to verify the identity, citizenship, residency, or eligibility of the votes cast.

The Republicans have to get tougher. You’re not going to have a Republican Party if you don’t get tougher. They want to play so straight. They want to play so serious. “The United States, the Constitution doesn’t allow me to send them back to the states.” Well, I would say yes, it does, because the Constitution says you have to protect our country, and you have to protect our Constitution, and you can’t vote on fraud, and fraud breaks up everything, doesn’t it? When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to.21

21 This is all about the process of accepting the certified results of the states, and Trump suggests that rejecting those results would somehow be constitutional. But he again alludes to the idea that we’re in an extraordinary situation, in which the old rules no longer apply: “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules.”

It is also widely understood that the voter rolls are crammed full of noncitizens, felons, and people who have moved out of state, and individuals who are otherwise ineligible to vote, yet Democrats oppose every effort to clean up their voter rolls. They don’t want to clean them up. They are loaded, and how many people here are — know other people that when hundreds of thousands and then millions of ballots got sent out got three, four, five, six and I heard one who got seven ballots, and then they say you didn’t quite make it, sir. We won in a landslide. This was a landslide.

(APPLAUSE)

They said it’s not American to challenge the election. This is the most corrupt election in the history, maybe in the world. You know you could go to third-world countries, but I don’t think they had hundreds of thousands of votes, and they don’t have voters for them. I mean, no matter where you go, nobody would think this. In fact, it’s so egregious, it’s so bad that a lot of people don’t even believe it. It is so crazy that people don’t even believe it. It can’t be true. So they don’t believe it.

This is not just a matter of domestic politics; this is a matter of national security.22 So today, in addition to challenging the certification of the election, I’m calling on Congress and the state legislatures to quickly pass sweeping election reforms, and you had better do it before we have no country left. Today is not the end; it’s just the beginning.

22 Trump suggests that allowing Biden’s win to move forward would actually be a danger to the country — again, extreme rhetoric that plenty of people seemed to take to warrant extreme measures.

(APPLAUSE)

With your help over the last four years, we built the greatest political movement in the history of our country, and nobody even challenges that. I say that over and over, and I never get challenged by the fake news, and they challenge almost everything we say. But our fight against the big donors, big media, big tech, and others is just getting started.

This is the greatest in history; there’s never been a movement like that. You look back, there are all of the way to the Washington Monument. It’s hard to believe. We must stop the steal, and then we must ensure that such outrageous election fraud never happens again, can never be allowed to happen again, but we are going forward; we will take care of it going forward. We have got to take care of going back.

Don’t let them talk, “Okay, well, we promise.” I have had a lot of people, “Sir, you are at 96 percent for four years.” I said I’m not interested right now. I’m interested in right there. With your help, we will finally pass powerful requirements for voter ID. You need an ID to cash a check, you need an ID to go to a bank, to buy alcohol, to drive a car; every person should need to show an ID in order to cast your most important thing, a vote.

(APPLAUSE)

We will also require proof of American citizenship in order to vote in American elections. We just have a good victory in court on that one, actually. We will ban ballot harvesting and prohibit the use of unsecured drop boxes to commit rampant fraud. These drop boxes are fraudulent. They get — they disappear, and then all of the sudden, they show up. It is fraudulent. We will stop the practice of universal unsolicited mail-in balloting. We will clean up the voter rolls and ensure that every single person who cast a vote is a citizen of our country, a resident of the state in which they vote, and their vote is cast in a lawful and honest manner.

We will restore the vital civic tradition of in-person voting on Election Day so that voters can be fully informed when they make their choice. We will finally hold big tech accountable, and if these people had courage and guts, they would get rid of Section 230, something that no other company, no other person in America, in the world has.

All of these tech monopolies are going to abuse their power and interfere in our elections, and it has to be stopped; and the Republicans have to get a lot tougher, and so should the Democrats. They should be regulated, investigated, and brought to justice under the fullest extent of the law. They are totally breaking the law.

(APPLAUSE)

Together we will drain the Washington swamp, and we will clean up the corruption in our nation’s Capitol. We have done a big job on it, but you think it’s easy; it’s a dirty business. It’s a dirty business. We have a lot of bad people out there. Despite everything we have been through, looking out all over this country and seeing fantastic crowds, although this I think is our all-time record.

(APPLAUSE)

I think you have 250,000 people — 250,000. Looking out at all of the amazing patriots here today, I have never been more confident in our nation’s future. Well, I have to say, we have to be a little bit careful. That’s a nice statement, but we have to be a little careful with that statement. If we allow this group of people to illegally take over our country because it’s illegal, when the votes are illegal, when the way that they got there is illegal, when the states that vote are given false and fraudulent information —23

23 This is a key section — and one that merits probing. Trump doesn’t finish his thought, but he seems to suggest that he might not be so proud of the people gathered if they “allow” the wrong outcome to happen. Their power to stop it — beyond protesting and supporting lawmakers who fall in line — though, would seem to have been quite limited. Nonetheless, Trump suggests that the situation is somehow under their control, and that they will be judged by the results.

We are the greatest country on Earth, and we are headed and were headed in the right direction. You know the wall is built; we are doing record numbers at the wall. Now they want to take down the wall. Let’s let everyone flow in. Let’s let everybody flow in. We did a great job on the wall. Remember the wall; they said it could never be done, one of the largest infrastructure projects we have ever had in this country, and it has had a tremendous impact and we got rid of catch and release, we got rid of all of the stuff that we had to live with. But now the caravans, they think Biden is getting in, the caravans are forming again. They want to come in again and rip off our country, can’t let it happen.

As this enormous crowd shows, we have truth and justice on our side. We have a deep and enduring love for America in our hearts. We love our country. We have overwhelming pride in this great country. We have it deep in our souls. Together we are determined to defend and preserve government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

(APPLAUSE)

Our brightest days are before us. Our greatest achievements still wait. I think one of our great achievements will be election security, because nobody, until I came along, had any idea how corrupt our elections were. And again, most people would stand there at 9 o’clock in the evening and say, “I want to thank you very much,” and they go off to some other life. But I said something is wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened, and we fight. We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.24

24 Another key line, toward the end, urging supporters to “fight like hell” and warning them that failure to do so would be the very downfall of their country. Political rhetoric, yes, but something many of them truly seemed to believe and acted accordingly.

Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun. My fellow Americans, for our movement, for our children, and for our beloved country, and I say this despite all that has happened, the best is yet to come.

(APPLAUSE)

So we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue — I love Pennsylvania Avenue — and we are going to the Capitol. And we are going to try and give — the Democrats are hopeless, they are never voting for anything, not even one vote — but we are going to try to give our Republicans — the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help — going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.25

25 Here’s Trump’s other allusion to walking down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol. It’s worth noting that organizers had planned to do this already, but Trump on two occasions encouraged it — even though he had tweeted earlier promoting the idea that the demonstration would be “wild.” Trump was essentially telling supporters to bring the wild scene to the doorstep of American government — and that’s the most generous interpretation.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank you all. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you all for being here. This is incredible.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

This is an informative interview of Nancy Pelosi by Lesley Stahl.

During the riot, her staff locked themselves in one of the rooms in her office and hid under a table, fearful for their lives.

Pelosi showed the damage done to her office.