Trump tries to defend Capitol rioters on Fox News, gets shut down by Laura Ingraham

"We are not going to relitigate the past"

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published March 26, 2021 11:33AM (EDT)

Donald Trump | Fox News logo (Photo illustration by Salon/Alex Wong/Getty Images/Fox News/Salon)
Donald Trump | Fox News logo (Photo illustration by Salon/Alex Wong/Getty Images/Fox News/Salon)

In a Fox News interview on Wednesday, Donald Trump strongly defended his followers who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, insisting that they posed "zero threat" to the lawmakers who had assembled that day to confirm the results of the Electoral College. 

Trump appeared entirely convinced that the insurrection was mostly peaceful and fun-loving, only briefly clarifying to Fox News host Laura Ingraham that the rioters who breached the building "shouldn't have done it." He railed against law enforcement for "persecuting" the rioters, arguing that "some of them went in and they're, they're hugging and kissing the police and the guards."

"You know, they had great relationships. A lot of the people were waved in and then they walked in and they walked out." The former president then complained that "nothing happens" to left-wing protestors. "When I look at antifa and what they did to Washington," he rambled, "and what they did to other locations, and the destruction, and frankly the killing and the beating up of people, and nothing happens to them whatsoever? Why aren't they going after antifa?"

He also attempted to frame the rioters as patriots. "They wave American flags," he told Ingraham. "In many cases, they are waving the American flag, and they love our country." 

On the day of the insurrection, many of the rioters were heard chanting the phrase, "Hang Pence!" Following the riot, federal prosecutors found that a Texas man charged with participating in the Capitol had expressed intent to kill Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., over Twitter. Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman warned lawmakers in February that many members of the right-wing radical groups that had attended the riot might have been planning another attack.

"We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6th have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union, which we know that date has not been identified," she told members of Congress, explaining her reasoning to ramp up security around the perimeter of the Capitol building. 

Thus far, over 300 people have been charged in connection with the insurrection in early Jan. Federal authorities claim that at least 100 more may face future charges. According to CBS News, the FBI was sent over 270,000 tips from people across the country. "With their help," said FBI Director Christopher Wray, we've identified hundreds of suspects and opened hundreds of investigations in all but one of our 56 field offices."

Federal authorities have connected at least 52 rioters to various extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, QAnon, and the Three Percenters. As many of 37 rioters had current or past ties to the military and at least 5 are connected to law enforcement.

Trump went on to say that the Supreme Court should be "ashamed of itself" for not overturning the election, at which point he was coldly cut off by Ingraham. 

"Mr. …yeah, well…" Ingraham interrupted. "Speaking as a lawyer, we are not going to relitigate the past tonight," she told Trump. 

"But speaking as a lawyer, I think, going forward, I think any candidate running for office has to have an impeccable legal strategy in place before — like come along before the election takes place, because a lot of people saw a lot of problems coming, verification problems coming, but I don't think the legal situation was in place, and that hurts everybody along the way."


By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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Donald Trump Fox News Laura Ingraham