Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty Donald Trump at a Pennsylvania rally
Donald Trump is again expressing support for the mob of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on his behalf in January 2021 in an attempt to stop Joe Biden's election victory from being certified, saying in a new video that those imprisoned as a result of their involvement in the riot were being treated "unfairly."
"People have been treated unconstitutionally, in my opinion, and very, very unfairly, and we're going to get to the bottom of it," Trump, 75, said in the video, which The Washington Post says was filmed for and aired at a fundraising event held this week by the Patriot Freedom Project, a group supporting families of those being prosecuted by the government. Trump did not provide any evidence of how the rioters had been treated unconstitutionally.
"It's the weaponization of the Department of Justice, and we can't let this happen in our country," the former president added.
Politico reports that, as of July, the Justice Department has arrested more than 850 people suspected of participating in the Capitol riot, and more than 325 of those have pleaded guilty.
Trump has consistently embraced the extremism expressed by those who participated in the Capitol riots, which ended in the death of one Capitol Police Officer who died after being beaten by the rioters. Several other officers were also beaten, some sustaining life-threatening injuries.
In a September radio interview, Trump said that if he were to be elected president again, he would "be looking very, very strongly about pardons, full pardons" for those arrested in the riots.
Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021
Reuters reports that elsewhere in that same interview interview, Trump — who has previously declared himself "the president of law and order" — said he is "financially supporting" some of the rioters facing legal consequences due to their involvement, though he did not offer specifics.
"I am financially supporting people that are incredible and they were in my office actually two days ago. It's very much on my mind. It's a disgrace what they've done to them," he said.
Speaking at a rally held shortly before the rally at the Capitol turned violent, Trump encouraged his supporters to march to the building where Congress had convened. Though he said they should be peaceful, he also said they needed to "fight like hell" and risked losing their country.
The scene soon turned violent, with U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards later describing it in sworn testimony as "a war scene."
"It was something like I had seen out of the movies," Edwards, 31, said. "I could not believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people's blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos."
The former president announced last month that he is officially running again in 2024, launching his campaign in a speech delivered at his members-only Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
"America's comeback starts right now," the former president said before explaining his priorities for the nation. "We are here tonight to declare that it does not have to be this way."
Later in his speech, he said, "In order to make America great and glorious again I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States."
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