The 38-minute video below shows how Donald J. Trump’s persistent repetition of lies and calls to action for two months created an alternate reality that he was re-elected. Mr. Trump’s words, which were echoed and amplified by the rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, are at the center of his second impeachment trial.
In hundreds of public statements from November 4, 2020 to January 6, 2021, Mr. Trump repeatedly used phrases such as “we won the election” and “won it by a landslide”, and he said the election had been “rigged” and “stolen” by Democrats. Such claims have been proven false by courts and election officials across the country. Mr. Trump’s language later signaled to his supporters that they had to “fight” because “you will never take back our country with weakness.”
Some of Mr. Trump’s statements were outright lies (which he won). Some were his own feelings (“it’s a shame for our country”). Some were oblique calls to action (“if you don’t fight to save your country with all you have, there will not be a country left”).
In a 78-page brief submitted to the Senate on Monday, lawyers for Mr. Trump say he did not order his supporters to storm the Capitol.
“You usually aren’t going to find an executive telling you exactly what to do,” said Timothy Snyder, a history professor at Yale University who has written extensively on the similarities between Mr. Trump’s language and that of the leaders. authoritarian. Instead, there is a sort of “vague directive”, which followers refine and take action.
Autocratic movements throughout history have been distinguished by leaders repeating lies and suggestions that stir up anger among supporters, Dr Snyder said. “That’s exactly what Trump did.”
Mr. Trump’s defense team will claim that his false statements about the election are protected by the First Amendment and that trying a former president is unconstitutional.
Dozens of constitutional scholars from all walks of life have said the First Amendment claim was “legally frivolous” and should not prevent the Senate from condemning Mr. Trump. Legal scholars, including prominent conservatives, have rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that it is unconstitutional to hold a trial for the impeachment of a former president.
How Trump’s words echoed across Capitol Hill
The Times examined hundreds of hours of January 6 footage of protesters, including rioters who stormed the Capitol, and found evidence of how they mimicked – and amplified – the words of Mr. Trump.
For example, the collective chants of “Stop the Steal” turned into threats of violence against leaders like Vice President Mike Pence (“Hang Mike Pence!”) And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (“We are coming for you, Nancy ”).
A number of rioters said they did what they did because they believed that was what Mr. Trump wanted them to do.
Mr. Trump “called this crowd, gathered the crowd and kindled the flame of this attack,” said Republican 3rd Chamber Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming in a scathing statement explaining why she believed Mr. Trump should be impeached .