Donald Trump rally
Donald Trump at a rally on January 6, 2021 (Image: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

September 30, 2020: During the first presidential debate of the 2020 general election, Donald Trump refuses to commit to a peaceful transition of power, continually making vague accusations of fraud and corruption: “If I see tens of thousands of ballots being interfered with, then I don’t go along.”

When asked to condemn white supremacist group the Proud Boys, he tells them to “stand back and stand by”.

November 3, 2020: At roughly 10pm on election night, with millions of votes still to count and the race a long way from being called, Trump declares that “frankly we did win this election” and alleges a “major fraud on our nation“. No evidence is presented.

December 2020: Trump and his team continue to make baseless claims of vote rigging and electoral fraud for the rest of the year. Each and every one of them is debunked, time and time again.

December 2020-January 2021: Trump’s legal team launches more than 60 lawsuits attempting to overturn the election results. All fail, save a minor victory in Pennsylvania.

Fourteen Trump-supporting Republican senators announce they will attempt to nullify the election results.

January 4, 2021: A recorded phone call from Trump to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is leaked, in which Trump asks Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state. “You have a big election coming up and because of what you’ve done to the president — you know, the people of Georgia know that this was a scam,” Trump says.

The same day, 10 former secretaries of defence feel the need to ask active US soldiers not to involve themselves in the election dispute.

January 5, 2021: Trump addresses a rally in Georgia. He says he won the election in a landslide and openly calls on Vice-President Mike Pence to reject the outcome of the election — a power Pence doesn’t have.

Hopefully our great vice-president will come through for us … Of course, if he doesn’t come through I won’t like him quite so much. Watch what’s going to be revealed. You watch.

January 6, 2021: Speaking at another rally, this time in Washington, Trump declares:

We will never give up, we will never concede. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore. We will stop the steal.

After the rally, a section of the crowd proceeds to storm and eventually breach the US Capitol Building.

Over the course of the day Trump continues to tweet and retweet vague claims of electoral fraud, this time concerning the Georgia runoff election, which Republican candidates have narrowly lost.

He also states, all caps:

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR COUNTRY, NEEDS THE PRESIDENCY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE – THE POWER OF THE VETO. STAY STRONG!

After Pence puts out a statement defying the president’s repeated demands that he reject the result of the election, Trump tweets:

Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our constitution, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!

By this stage, Twitter has started notifying users they can no longer reply to, like or retweet Trump, based on the risk it may incite violence.

As the day wore on, Trump continued to ask for peace by reiterating that the mob’s actions were understandable: “This is what happens when a scared landslide is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long … “

That tweet, and the video, were eventually deleted by Twitter, and Trump’s account was suspended for 12 hours, for “repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy”.

January 6, 4.15pm: Trump tweets a video addressing the mob, expressing sympathy and once again stating the election was “stolen” from him and from them. Asking them to go home peacefully, he concludes: “We love you”.

Peter Fray

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