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Starting in December, Trump repeatedly encouraged his supporters on Twitter to show up for a “big protest” in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, the day that Congress accepted the Electoral College votes.
At a Georgia rally Jan. 4, Trump told supporters “we’re going to take what they did to us on Nov. 3. We’re going to take it back.”
In his speech before the riot, Trump praised supporters for showing up to “save our democracy.” He told supporters “we’re going to walk down to the Capitol ... You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
In the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, President Donald Trump repeatedly said he wanted his supporters to fight Congress on accepting the electoral college results that showed Joe Biden won.
"We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women," Trump told his supporters shortly before the Capitol assault. "We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."
His supporters listened. Thousands of Trump supporters, waving Trump or Confederate flags and wearing MAGA gear, descended upon the Capitol. They overwhelmed law enforcement, pushed past police barricades, and temporarily stopped Congress from counting electoral votes.
Trump’s supporters had gathered earlier in the day for the "Save America" rally organized by a group called "Women for America First." Trump allies, including former campaign staffers, helped promote the event, ABC News reported. Trump’s White House schedule showed he was to speak at the rally that day.
Some of Trump’s fiercest allies also made incendiary statements at the rally. "Let’s have trial by combat," said Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, warming up the crowd for Trump.
We looked closely at the words Trump used to urge his supporters to show up and "fight" on his behalf Jan. 6. With Trump’s Twitter account permanently suspended, we used archives of his tweets by Factba.se and the Trump Twitter archive.
We contacted spokespersons for Trump and did not get a response.
For months before Election Day, Trump repeatedly told his supporters falsehoods about voting, including that Democrats had "rigged" the election. Trump ramped up the rhetoric after he lost the election, filing court challenges in battleground states trying to get judges to reverse the outcome. After he racked up defeats in court, Trump’s tactics turned toward ordering senators to "fight" for him.
"[email protected] and Republican Senators have to get tougher, or you won’t have a Republican Party anymore. We won the Presidential Election, by a lot. FIGHT FOR IT. Don’t let them take it away!" he tweeted Dec. 18.
In December, Trump also issued a battle cry to his supporters broadly, encouraging them to gather on his behalf Jan. 6.
Dec. 12: On the day of pro-Trump rallies in Washington, D.C., Trump tweeted "Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA."
Dec. 12: "WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!" Trump said in another tweet.
Dec. 19: Trump tweeted his praise for a report by his adviser Peter Navarro alleging election fraud: "A great report by Peter. Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
Dec. 26: Trump tweeted: "The ‘Justice’ Department and the FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud, the biggest SCAM in our nation’s history, despite overwhelming evidence. They should be ashamed. History will remember. Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th."
Dec. 27: "See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow!" Trump tweeted.
Jan. 1: "The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C., will take place at 11.00 A.M. on January 6th. Locational details to follow. StopTheSteal!" Trump tweeted.
Jan. 1: "January 6th. See you in D.C." Trump tweeted.
Jan. 3: Trump retweeted @JenLawrence21, an organizer of a March for Trump bus tour: "Now we will bring it to DC on Jan 6 and PROUDLY stand beside you!"
Jan. 3: Trump retweeted Amy Kremer, another promoter of the march who said, "We are excited to announce the site of our January 6th event will be The Ellipse in the President’s Park, just steps from the White House!"
Jan. 3: Trump retweeted @CodeMonkeyZ: "If you are planning to attend peaceful protests in DC on the 6th, i recommend wearing a body camera. The more video angles of that day the better."
Jan. 4: At a rally in Georgia the day before the Senate runoffs, Trump repeated his grievances about his own election. He spoke about a continued fight, both for himself and the Senate.
"If the liberal Democrats take the Senate and the White House — and they’re not taking this White House — we’re going to fight like hell, I’ll tell you right now," Trump said.
"We’re going to take it back," Trump said.
"Our country has had enough," Trump told his supporters. "We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal."
The crowd later chanted: "Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!" Trump thanked them.
Trump praised the crowd for traveling from across the nation and for "the extraordinary love."
"We’re gathered together in the heart of our nation’s capital for one very, very basic and simple reason: to save our democracy," Trump said.
Trump repeatedly said there was a need to "fight." After he bashed "weak" Republicans and Biden, he said: "Unbelievable, what we have to go through, what we have to go through and you have to get your people to fight. If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them. We’re going to let you know who they are, I can already tell you, frankly."
He continued with the fighting metaphors: "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. We’re going to have to fight much harder, 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. Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy."
Trump then invited the crowd to go to the Capitol.
"And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down any one you want, but I think right here. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."
Trump used the word "peacefully" once at his rally:
"We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for 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."
By the time Trump finished his speech, crowds had already started to gather outside the Capitol.
Trump never joined them, but did tweet during the afternoon and night and released a video statement.
"Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!" he tweeted at 2:38 p.m. By that point, the mob had already shattered windows as they pushed inside the building.
His video statement repeated false claims about the fraudulent election and said, "We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special."
He rehashed those themes in his final tweet of the night. It ended with these words: "Remember this day forever!"
New York Times, ‘Be There. Will Be Wild!’: Trump All but Circled the Date, Jan. 6, 2020
Just Security, Incitement Timeline: Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol, Jan. 11, 2021
Washington Post, How one of America’s ugliest days unraveled inside and outside the Capitol, Jan. 9, 2021
Washington Post, Multiple people stabbed after thousands gather for pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington, Dec. 12, 2021
ABC, Trump allies helped plan, promote rally that led to Capitol attack, Jan. 8, 2021
Washington Post, Trump supporters plan D.C. rally on day Congress certifies election results, Dec. 22, 2020
Rev.com, Transcripts of Trump