Trump supporters gesture to U.S. Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber after breaching the halls of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6 (AP)
Law enforcement authorities and the FBI began identifying Trump’s stormtroopers- described as “patriots” by Trump family members and “terrorists” by critics- on the basis of photos and video footage, including many in which they boasted about storming the Capitol.
More than 60 people have been arrested so far. Many face the prospect of prosecution and ten years in prison thanks to an executive order signed by Trump that was ironically aimed at “radical left” protestors accused of damaging federal property.
Even more serious charges are in the offing, including possible terrorism charges. The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information about pipe bombs left outside Republican and Democratic offices. Separately, DC Police is offering $1,000 rewards for information about members of the mob.
Many political stalwarts and law enforcement people are characterising the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters as tantamount to a terrorist attack.
“They weren’t protesters. Don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that simple,” President-elect Biden said during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, to introduce his nominees to lead the Justice Department, among them Indian-American Vanita Gupta, a civil rights attorney nominated to be the associate attorney general.
But Trump and his minions, including some in the extreme right media, are continuing to defend the MAGA mob, some of whom bragged about defecating in the halls of Congress.
While calling out Trump for recklessly encouraging his supporters to march to the US Capitol, Fox News host Tucker Carlson maintained it was simply a “political protest” that “got out of hand”- even though bombs were found at the Republican and Democratic headquarters.
Also defending the MAGA mob was conservative radio talk show host and Trump supporter Rush Limbaugh who compared the rioters to revolutionaries while plying the discredited extreme right wing conspiracy theory that the march was infiltrated by Antifa and BLM activists.
“There’s a lot of people calling for the end of violence. There’s a lot of conservatives, social media, who say that any violence or aggression at all is unacceptable. Regardless of the circumstances,” he said, invoking the country’s Founding Father’s to add, “I’m glad Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, the actual tea party guys, the men at Lexington and Concord didn’t feel that way.”