Prosecutors Zeroing in on Trump Tweet Before Capitol Riot: NYT

  • Prosecutors are looking at a December 2020 Trump tweet as a call to action for far-right extremists.
  • Trump urged supporters to attend the Jan. 6, 2021 rally, tweeting: “Be there, will be wild!”
  • The January 6 panel is gathering evidence to prove the tweet was in part a catalyst for the riot.

Federal prosecutors are zeroing in on a December 2020 tweet from then President Donald Trump that may have been a call for far-right actors to converge on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, The New York Times reported.

“Big protest in DC on January 6th,” Trump tweeted on December 19. It was the first time he announced the “Save America” ​​rally, which took place at the Ellipse in Washington, DC, less than two miles from the US Capitol. “Be there, will be wild!” the tweet said.

Prosecutors believe far-right and extremist groups immediately interpreted Trump’s message as a call to action for them to head to the Capitol and stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election that day, The Times said.

According to court filings and interview records compiled by the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot, multiple people associated with far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys started communicating with each other on messaging apps and gathering arms and protective gear.

By The Times’ accounting, prosecutors have included examples of these actions in at least five criminal cases charging extremists with an array of crimes in connection to the Capitol riot, including seditious conspiracy. And according to the report, both the Justice Department and the House select panel are gathering more evidence that shows Trump’s initial December 2020 tweet announcing the rally was a “powerful catalyst” for his supporters to head to the Capitol on January 6.

A number of defendants in the Justice Department’s sprawling Capitol riot probe have blamed Trump for “inspiring” and inciting the deadly siege at the Capitol.

“The boss of the country said, ‘People of the country, come on down, let people know what you think,'” a defense lawyer for Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola, who has been charged with conspiracy in connection to the riot, previously Reuters told. ‘The logical thinking was, ‘He invited us down.’

Earlier this month, the select committee said in a court filing that it believes Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election violated several US laws.

Specifically, the panel said that the evidence it’s gathered so far suggest Trump tried to obstruct an official proceeding, conspired to defraud the United States, and engaged in common law fraud.

The legality of Trump’s actions and statements leading up to and on the day of the Capitol riot has also been called into question by more than one federal judge.

On Monday, US District Judge David Carter said in a bombshell ruling that it’s “likely” Trump committed felony obstruction of Congress on January 6.

“Disagreeing with the law President Trump to seek a remedy entitled in court, not to disrupt a constitutionally-mandated process,” Carter wrote.

After “filing and losing more than sixty suits, this plan was a last-ditch attempt to secure the Presidency by any means,” the ruling said, adding that the “illegality of the plan was obvious.”

He was referring to a legally dubious plan by the conservative lawyer John Eastman, which Trump supported, that called for then Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject electoral slates from battleground states that Biden won.

Trump and Eastman “launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action in American history,” Carter wrote. “Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower — it was a coup in search of a legal theory.”

US District Judge Amit Mehta also ruled in a separate case last month that Trump could be sued over the Capitol riot and engaged in a “civil conspiracy” with key supporters and far-right groups.

The word “we” being “used repeatedly in this context implying that the President and rally-goers would be acting together toward a common goal,” Mehta wrote. “That is the essence of a civil conspiracy.”

Insider reached out to representatives for Trump for comment.

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