Fact Check: Did Trump Say to 'Peacefully and Patriotically' March to the Capitol?

On January 13, President Donald Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives for the second time. He was charged with "high crimes and misdemeanors" and "engaging in insurrection or rebellion against the United States" after claims that his Save America Rally speech on January 6, as well as his rhetoric about election fraud earlier, incited the violence that broke out when his supporters stormed the Capitol building the same day during the election certification.

The Claim

Trump and his supporters have dismissed this accusation, noting that he called for peaceful protests during his speech. They point to a section in his speech in which he said to "peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard."

Boom 💥 Video proves President Trump called on people to “PEACEFULLY & PATRIOTICALLY march to the Capital”

Case closed. Pass it on #TrumpInsurrection #60Minutes pic.twitter.com/LEUdjguOJc

— Melissa Tate text MAGA to 31996 (@TheRightMelissa) January 11, 2021

The Facts

Toward the beginning of his speech on January 6, Trump mentioned to the crowd that they have to demand that Congress "do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated."

Since the election in November, Trump and many of his allies have touted the unproven claims of mass election fraud. Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced in December that the Department of Justice uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election. All of the evidence Trump's team presented to try to prove voter fraud has been dismissed and he lost 61 of the 62 lawsuits filed challenging the presidential election results.

Still, up until the official certification of election results, Trump continued to push this false narrative to his most ardent supporters.

"I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard," Trump said in his speech. "Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for [the] integrity of our elections, but whether or not they stand strong for our country, our country. Our country has been under siege for a long time, far longer than this four-year period."

The president did mention walking to the Capitol in a peaceful manner. Those who defend the president also point to a call to vote out members of Congress who do not agree with Trump.

"If they don't fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don't fight," Trump said. "You primary them. We're going to let you know who they are."

He also said he and the crowd would "walk down to the Capitol" to "cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women."

"We're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you'll never take back our country with weakness," he said. "You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."

However, Trump's call to display strength shows a possible contradiction in Trump's message to his crowd before the certification vote.

Very telling video of rioters outside the Capitol shouting at police: "We were invited here. We were invited by the president of the United States" pic.twitter.com/Ctt5M1ijoA

— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) January 13, 2021

The official impeachment resolution points to the moments before the joint session of Congress to certify the election results, Trump reiterated "false claims that 'we won this election and we won it in a landslide'" and "willfully made statements that, in context, encourages and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol." These statements include: "if you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore."

The resolution continues to assert that the crowd was incited by the president to unlawfully breach and vandalize the Capitol, injure and kill law enforcement personnel, menaced members of Congress, Vice President Mike Pence and congressional personnel, "and engage in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts," in an attempt to "among other objectives" to interfere with the certification of the 2020 Presidential election results.

President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week. With a heavy heart, I will vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump. pic.twitter.com/SREfFp0nd2

— Rep. Peter Meijer (@RepMeijer) January 13, 2021

Others point to conflicting lines of the speech that seem to suggest a call for the crowd to takes matters into their own hands to correct this injustice through a more active or violent approach:

  • "We're gathered together in the heart of our nation's Capitol for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy."
  • "We will not let them silence your voices. We're not going to let it happen. Not going to let it happen."
  • "Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that's what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal."
  • "That's what they've done and what they're doing. We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved."
  • "When you catch somebody in a fraud, you're allowed to go by very different rules."
  • "Let them get out. Let the weak ones get out. This is a time for strength....It's all part of the comprehensive assault on our democracy and the American people to finally standing up and saying, 'No.' This crowd is again a testament to it."
  • "You will have an illegitimate president, that's what you'll have. And we can't let that happen."
  • "We will not be intimidated into accepting the hoaxes and the lies that we've been forced to believe over the past several weeks. We've amassed overwhelming evidence about a fake election."
  • "We're going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity, they'll be ashamed. And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never ever forget that they did. Never forget. We should never ever forget."

While the president's supporters believe that his mention of marching peacefully exonerates him from blame, others believe the context and intention of this and other speeches are enough to prove his guilt and justify impeachment.

After the crowd had infiltrated the Capitol building, Trump took to his now-deleted personal Twitter account to address his supporters.

"I know your pain," Trump said. "I know you're hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now."

He also urged his supporters to be peaceful and maintain "law and order."

"Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement," he tweeted. "They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!"

This is wrong and not who we are. Be peaceful and use your 1st Amendment rights, but don’t start acting like the other side. We have a country to save and this doesn’t help anyone. https://t.co/3oUAPxuwi9

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 6, 2021

In a video released on Twitter that same day, Trump told the crowd to go home and that he loved them and they were "very special." He also continued to spread the false notions that the election was stolen from him.

The president's immediate response to the violence in his name drew much criticism, but Trump defended his words.

"People thought what I said was totally appropriate," he told reporters Tuesday.

"They've analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate."

He also turned attention to the response from Democratic leaders following the riots that broke out during the Black Live Matter protests.

"And if you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level, about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other places, that was a real problem, what they said," Trump said.

In a statement released a week after the riot at the Capitol, Trump said that he was against violence.

.@POTUS: In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You. pic.twitter.com/mOOGZjqTLW

— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) January 13, 2021

He then released a video on the official @WhiteHouse Twitter account January 13, disavowing the violence, saying such actions go against his beliefs and what his movement stands for. He said that "no true supporter" of his could endorse political violence, disrespect law enforcement or threaten their fellow Americans. The tone seemingly contradicted his initial embrace of those who stormed the Capitol a week earlier.


— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 13, 2021

The Ruling

Mostly true.

The president did say that the crowd was going to march peacefully and patriotically to the Capitol. After the attack, Trump said he does not condone violence.

However, it does not necessarily mean the president did not incite violence with the rest of his speech or in his rhetoric prior to January 6.

Investigations into the riot are ongoing.

Trump Supporters Capitol Invasion Rotunda
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump walk around in the Rotunda after breaching the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C, January 6, 2021. SAUL LOEB / AFP/Getty

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