Donald Trump Calls Rally Before His Supporters Attacked the Capitol a ‘Love Fest’
The former president also claimed that he "wasn't watching TV" when the rioting began to unfold after his speech
Donald Trump continues to have nothing but nice things to say about the large crowd of his supporters who attended a rally for him near the White House on Jan. 6 — before descending into mob violence when they marched on the U.S. Capitol.
In a Sunday interview on Fox News' The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton, former President Trump said the rally held prior to the attempted coup in January was a "love fest" and "a beautiful thing."
He touted the audience — as he does when talking about crowd size — as "the largest crowd that I've ever spoken [to] before."
Making one of his regular phone appearances on Fox News, Trump, 74, also claimed that he "wasn't watching TV" when the rioting began to unfold after his speech, saying that he only turned it on "later on when I heard about it, and did a lot of moves."
While Trump told Hilton "I hate to see it" when pressed on whether he understood "how bad" the Capitol attack was, he also spoke at length about the size of the crowd gathered to watch him speak that day.
At his rally in January, Trump spoke in grave terms about what his election loss meant for his supporters, telling them to "fight like hell" and saying that the country was being illegally stolen by a group of powerful elites.
He told the crowd to be patriotic and peaceful but later praised the rioters as "very special" after the attack began, even as he also told them they should go home.
Speaking with Hilton this week, the former president sounded hung up on the scope of his support.
"That rally was massive ... the press doesn't like to talk about it, but the real number was much, much bigger in terms of the people that were at the location," Trump said. "It went all the way back, practically, to the Washington Monument. It was tremendous numbers of people — not the Capitol. I'm talking about the rally itself. And it was a love fest ... It was a beautiful thing."
In his speech delivered at the Ellipse on the National Mall that day, Trump spoke to thousands of his supporters who had gathered as lawmakers inside the Capitol were about to certify the Electoral College results showing Joe Biden was the victor of the 2020 election.
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Not long before the crowd overwhelmed law enforcement and breached the Capitol, Trump continued to spread his lies about voter fraud and an illegitimate election.
Trump was widely criticized by politicians on both sides of the aisle for his behavior before, during and after the rioting and he was soon impeached by the House of Representatives on one count of incitement of insurrection.
The rioting sent lawmakers into hiding. Five people died.
Trump was later acquitted by the Senate, though seven Republicans there voted against him.
In his Sunday interview, Trump claimed that he had in fact "requested" a large group of National Guardsmen to be at the ready prior to the rally.
"I requested, I said, 'Look, this rally is going to be bigger than anyone thinks' — because everybody I'd see said, 'Oh, we're going to be at the rally. We're going to be at the rally,' " Trump said, adding, "I said that I think you should have 10,000 — I think I gave the number — I definitely gave the number of 10,000 National Guardsmen, and I think you should have 10,000 of the National Guard ready."
The Associated Press reported in January that Trump was involved in discussions about the National Guard prior to the riots but did not speak to defense officials as the chaos began to unfold.
Even after the deployment of the Guard was called by other officials that day, it took more than two and a half hours for the forces to deploy, according to the AP.