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Trump supporters were betrayed by their president | READER COMMENTARY

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Although pro-democracy and human rights activists around the globe were stunned to see a mob storm the Capitol, they say they were heartened and inspired because the system ultimately prevailed. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana File)
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Although pro-democracy and human rights activists around the globe were stunned to see a mob storm the Capitol, they say they were heartened and inspired because the system ultimately prevailed. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana File) (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Undoubtedly, as Til Strudwick says in his letter published Jan. 8th in The Sun, many Trump supporters in Washington were appalled by the attack on the Capitol (”Trump supporter: we didn’t do this, group was infiltrated”). Mr. Strudwick himself is to be commended for his service to other Trump supporters who felt threatened. I offer my profound sympathy that Mr. Strudwick has been vilified. I presume that Mr. Strudwick, truly and in good faith believes his claim that Antifa was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

But therein lies the problem. Mr. Strudwick asserts that because he “believe[s] that Antifa … infiltrated the rally,” it must be so. But what Mr. Strudwick or anyone else thinks, feels or believes is neither evidence nor fact.

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The facts, on the other hand, are quite clear: On Jan. 6th, the president, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and the President’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani each affirmatively encouraged Trump supporters in strong and unmistakable terms to do exactly what they did at the Capitol.

Mr. Giuliani encouraged Trump supporters to vindicate the president’s claim to have won the election by engaging in “trial by combat.” Donald Trump Jr. told the supporters that lawmakers who did not take action to reverse the election results should be wary because “we’re coming for you.” Eric Trump told the crowd that senators and representatives needed to fight for the President “[a]nd we need to march on the Capitol today. And we need to stand up for this country.” President Trump doubled down, urging his supporters to march to the Capitol to stop the electoral vote count, even offering to accompany the marchers. Later, the president speaking while the riot continued, affirmed the rectitude of the rioters’ cause: “We had an election that was stolen from us. A landslide election. And everyone knows it.” And that rhetoric did not occur in a vacuum; it built on a foundation of falsehoods that the president and his supporters have been laying for months.

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Those are facts. Mark Twain asserted that one should “never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” But the facts do get in the way of Mr. Strudwick’s story. The facts demonstrate that there was no need for Antifa to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6th. The president; his lawyer, Mr. Giuliani; and his sons, Donald trump Jr. and Eric Trump, gave Mr. Trump’s supporters their marching orders, and the president’s supporters did the dirty work themselves. That is a consummate betrayal of all Americans, but especially of people like Mr. Strudwick.

Malcolm J. Harkins

The writer is a professor at the St. Louis University School of Law.

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