President Donald Trump embraced the Capitol rioters and said he and his loyalists wanted the same thing, according to an excerpt of a new book by the Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
The former president said that his supporters, more than 500 of whom have been criminally charged in connection with the riot on January 6, simply wanted to "show support" for him, according to the book. Many of these supporters also say they believe Trump's baseless claim that the election was "rigged" and "stolen" by Democrats.
"Personally, what I wanted is what they wanted," Trump told Leonnig and Rucker during a March 31 interview at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
"They showed up just to show support because I happen to believe the election was rigged at a level like nothing has ever been rigged before," he added. "There's tremendous proof. There's tremendous proof. Statistically, it wasn't even possible that [Biden] won. Things such as, if you win Florida and Ohio and Iowa, there's never been a loss."
Taken together, the revisionists and their believers are “swimming in a vast sea of nonsense,” said Brendan Buck, a former top aide to onetime House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
That sea’s currents are familiar to historians who study what makes some conspiracy theories and propaganda persuasive.
Once people buy into the lies, there can be no convincing them they aren’t true, said Dolores Albarracin, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of a coming book, “Creating Conspiracy Beliefs: How Our Thoughts are Shaped.”
Despite the well-documented facts about what happened on Jan. 6, believers often dismiss anyone who tries to set them straight by claiming they are either duped or part of the conspiracy, Albarracin said.
“The belief contains a device that protects it,” she said. “Nothing can invalidate the conspiracy theory. Trying to refute the theory proves the theory and signals you as a conspirator.”
DJ Peterson, an expert on authoritarianism and propaganda, is president of Longview Global Advisors, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm, and worked at the Eurasia Group and the RAND Corporation. He said that in an online world awash in information and a real world riven by polarization, “you pick and choose what you want to believe, including sticking your head in the sand.”
Most Americans still call what happened on Jan 6 an insurrection. But descriptors like “defending freedom” and “patriotism” are relegated to a smaller part of the political right, and Trump voters are more likely than Americans as a whole to use them. pic.twitter.com/qczocH8a2u— CBS News Poll (@CBSNewsPoll) July 20, 2021
A judge said Capitol rioter and ex-Army Ranger Robert Morss weaponized his military training to help rioters overpower police and breach the Capitol. Here's a video of him lying in wait, then forcefully taking down a barricade (at 1:00) more --> https://t.co/QC1PD3A1Mu pic.twitter.com/Lq1SzrDukJ— Marshall Cohen (@MarshallCohen) July 21, 2021