Former President Donald Trump renewed his defense of Jan. 6 rioters on Thursday, placing blame instead on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for failing to secure the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. Trump said he “strongly recommended” sending in the National Guard to secure the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but the request was ignored by Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat.
“I knew the crowd would be extraordinarily large because they were protesting the RIGGED ELECTION,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “Capitol security was her job, not the President’s, and the American people now know that. If she did with security what she should have, there would have been no ‘January 6’ as we know it.”
Mr. Trump has come under increasing scrutiny by the Democratic-led House committee investigating the riot at the Capitol. Thursday’s remarks signal he is prepared to mount a defense in the face of the committee’s findings, which the panel is expected to begin making public in coming months.
“The Fake Unselect Committee wants nothing to do with that subject because they know it was the fault of Nancy Pelosi and, to a lesser extent, the Mayor of D.C.,” the former president said. “So, if I recommend Soldiers and if she refused to use them, why am I, and those around me, responsible for anything? We’re not, plain and simple!”
Mr. Trump has become increasingly outspoken about the Capitol riot and the House committee. He, like many Republicans, contends that the Democratic-led panel has weaponized the events of Jan. 6 and says the committee serves as a political tool to target conservatives.
He said Congress should focus instead on unraveling “massive voter fraud and irregularities” in the 2020 election — an unverified claim he continues to cite to rally his base.
“It was the Crime of the Century!,” he said Thursday. “Large-scale proof of fraud and serious irregularities exist all over the place.”
Democrats insist the aim of the probe is to uncover the truth about what led to the Capitol riot in order to ensure that a similar event never takes place.
The former president has fought the release of White House documents sought by the committee, but his appeal was blocked by the Supreme Court.
The committee recently ramped up pressure on Trump White House insiders and members of the Trump family.
Last month, the committee subpoenaed phone records from sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancee, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and sent a formal letter to daughter Ivanka Trump seeking her voluntary cooperation in the probe.
Mr. Trump also has come out in defense of rioters. During a campaign-style rally Saturday in Texas, he would consider pardoning individuals charged with participating in the riot if he runs for reelection and wins in 2024.
Several Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, pushed back on showing any leniency toward those who stormed the Capitol.