WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former President Donald Trump expressed his support for the agitators behind the deadly attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, during a video played at a fundraiser Thursday organized by the Patriot Freedom Project, a group that supports the families of the accused. supports. riots.
“In my opinion, people have been treated unconstitutionally, and very unfairly. And we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” he said. Trump also lamented the “weaponization of the Justice Department” and said the country was “going communist.”
The video is one of the few public appearances Trump has made since launching his third presidential bid last month. It also indicates that it will continue to embrace the extremist fringe groups from which Republicans have tried to distance themselves. Last month, the former president drew criticism for dining at his Mar-a-Lago residence with well-known white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West, who have recently made a series of anti-Semitic comments. His association with violent rioters is becoming a central campaign issue as he prepares for 2024, portraying the Justice Department as the political arm of the Biden administration amid multiple federal investigations into the former president.
In a September interview, Trump said he was “financially supporting” some of the January 6 defendants and promised that he would issue pardons and government amnesties if re-elected. Trump met with Cynthia Hughes, founder of the Patriot Freedom Project, and during a rally for the former president in Pennsylvania, she spoke to the crowd as part of the pre-show.
The video showing Trump’s solidarity with the group comes days after Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and his colleague, Kelly Meigs, were convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in a plot to forcibly disrupt the peaceful transition. Attack on the United States Capitol.