Former President Donald Trump expressed support for the rioters behind the deadly January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol in a video played during a fundraiser Thursday that was hosted by the Patriot Freedom Project, a group that assists families of those charged in the riot.
“People have been treated unconstitutionally in my opinion and very, very unfairly, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” he said. Trump also bemoaned the “weaponization of the Department of Justice” and said the country was “going communist.”
The video is one of a few appearances Trump has made since launching his third presidential bid last month and indicates he will continue to embrace the extremist fringe groups from which Republicans have sought to separate themselves. Last month, the former president came under fire for having dinner at his Mar-a-lago resort with known White nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West, who has recently made a slew of antisemitic remarks. His commitment to the violent rioters is emerging as a central campaign theme as he gears up for 2024, painting the DOJ as a political arm of the Biden administration amid several federal investigations into the former president.
In a September interview, Trump said he was “financially supporting” some January 6 defendants and promised he would issue pardons and a government apology to those being prosecuted if he were reelected. Trump has met with the founder of the Patriot Freedom Project, Cynthia Hughes, and during a Trump rally in Pennsylvania, she spoke to the crowd as part of the pre-program.
Trump’s video of solidarity comes days after Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and his associate Kelly Meggs were convicted of seditious conspiracy for their role in conspiring to forcibly stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power from Trump to Joe Biden and plotting to attack the US Capitol.