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Trump claims he peacefully surrendered power, ignoring Jan. 6 attack

Former president Donald Trump claimed Friday that he peacefully surrendered power at the end of his term in office, despite having urged a crowd of his supporters to converge on the U.S. Capitol, where some staged a deadly attack that interrupted Congress’s certification of Joe Biden’s election on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump’s comments came during an interview with conservative syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt in which the former president was asked for reassurance that he would not be a dictator if he returned to the White House and whether he would peacefully surrender power at the end of his second term.

“Of course — and I did that this time,” Trump said, before repeating his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. “But I did. I did it anyway.”

Trump’s response omits the fact that he urged his supporters to converge on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, while Congress was certifying Biden’s electoral win. Many in the pro-Trump mob that overran the Capitol that day had chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” in the misguided belief — pushed by Trump — that the then-Vice President Pence could have stopped Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

In video of the Jan. 6 attack, law enforcement officers outside the Capitol were shown being harassed, beaten and sprayed with noxious liquids by members of the mob. In one video from the attack, a rioter can be seen bashing a fallen police officer with a pole flying the American flag. The unprecedented attack left five people dead, including a police officer and a woman shot by police. Two other officers who were on duty that day later died by suicide, and more than 100 officers were injured.

Trump and his supporters have consistently downplayed the severity of the Jan. 6 attack, but the former president’s insistence that he engaged in a peaceful transfer of power in 2021 has sparked new alarm in light of his recent authoritarian rhetoric.

Last week, Trump approvingly quoted autocratic leaders — including Vladimir Putin of Russia and Viktor Orban of Hungary — and again demonized immigrants, saying they were “poisoning the blood of our country.”

Also this month, Trump was widely criticized when he said during a televised Fox News town hall event that he would not be a dictator if he returned to office “except for Day One,” when asked about whether he would abuse his powers to seek retribution against his political adversaries.

During the town hall, Trump said he would close the U.S.-Mexico border and expand oil drilling on his first day back in office, if reelected, adding: “After that, I’m not a dictator.”

On Friday, Hewitt pressed Trump on whether he intended to rule as an authoritarian or a dictator.

“Not at all. No, I’m going to rule as somebody that’s very popular with the people,” Trump responded.

A representative of Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday about his interview with Hewitt.

Trump’s role in encouraging his supporters to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, also continues to have repercussions for his reelection campaign. On Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump was disqualified from the state’s presidential primary under an 1868 provision of the Constitution that prevents insurrectionists from holding office.

The Colorado decision comes as courts in other states consider similar cases. If other states reach the same conclusion, Trump would have a difficult — if not impossible — time securing the Republican nomination and winning in November.

Biden, who also is running for reelection, said Wednesday that Trump “certainly supported an insurrection” but declined to comment specifically on the Colorado case.

“Certain things are self-evident. You saw it all,” Biden told reporters, referring to the Jan. 6 attack. “Now, whether the 14th Amendment applies, I’ll let the court make that decision. But he certainly supported an insurrection. No question about it. None. Zero.”

Mariana Alfaro, Patrick Marley and Azi Paybarah contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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