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Inside Donald Trump’s Embrace of the Jan. 6 Rioters

U.S.Inside Donald Trump’s Embrace of the Jan. 6 Rioters

Two days before former President Donald J. Trump was booked at an Atlanta jail on his fourth indictment, he held an event at his golf club in New Jersey for another group of people facing criminal charges: rioters accused of storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Standing next to a portrait of himself portrayed as James Bond, Mr. Trump told the defendants and their families that they had suffered greatly, but that all of that would change if he won another term.

“People who have been treated unfairly are going to be treated extremely, extremely fairly,” he said to a round of applause at the event last August in Bedminster, N.J. “What you’ve suffered is just ridiculous,” he added. “But it’s going to be OK.”

That private event was emblematic of how Mr. Trump has embraced dozens of Jan. 6 defendants and their relatives and highlights how he has sought to undermine law enforcement when it suits him, while he also puts forth a law-and-order campaign.

Recently, however, his celebrations of the Capitol riot and those who took part in it have become more public as he has promoted a revisionist history of the attack and placed it at the heart of his 2024 presidential campaign.

Despite the nearly 1,000 guilty pleas and convictions that have been secured in criminal cases stemming from Jan. 6, Mr. Trump has repeatedly described the rioters who broke into the Capitol as “hostages” and has started to open his campaign events with a recording of riot defendants singing the national anthem from their jail cells.

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