Majority of Republicans Blame Left-Wing Activists for Pro-Trump Jan. 6 Capitol Attack

A significant majority of Republicans believe that left-wing or liberal activists deserve the most blame for the January 6 attack carried out against the U.S. Capitol by hundreds of former President Donald Trump's supporters.

New polling released Wednesday by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) showed that the majority of Americans blame the riot on Trump, conservative media platforms and white supremacists. However, 61 percent of Republicans place a lot of responsibility for the 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol on liberal or left-wing activists—the only group that a majority of GOP voters said bears responsibility for the violence.

In the wake of the attack, some GOP lawmakers and conservative activists spread conspiracy theories that leftist groups such as Antifa or Black Lives Matter were behind the attack, but no evidence has emerged to substantiate those claims.

In fact, many of the hundreds of rioters who have been arrested and charged as part of the Justice Department's sweeping investigation into the assault have blamed Trump directly for their actions. Some have attempted to use this as a defense in court, arguing they were acting on the president's instructions.

U.S. Capitol
A large group of pro-Trump protesters raise signs and flags on the grounds of the Capitol Building on January 6 in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, with many violently assaulting police officers guarding lawmakers and the legislative building. Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Ahead of the attack, Trump spoke at a rally and urged his supporters to "march" to the Capitol and to "fight like hell." Hundreds went on to do just that in an apparent effort to block the formal certification of President Joe Biden's election victory. The Senate and House of Representatives were working through the certification process when the attack occurred.

The PRRI poll showed that Republicans' views of who deserved blame varied somewhat depending on their media consumption. Just 53 percent of GOP voters who most trust broadcast news blamed left-wing or liberal activists. But 69 percent of Republicans who said they most trust Fox News blamed left-wing or liberal activists, as did 76 percent of GOP voters who most trust far-right news sources.

The PRRI survey was conducted from August 9 to 30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.86 percentage points.

The survey results were released days before right-wing groups plan to protest at the U.S. Capitol in support of the hundreds of people who attacked the legislative chamber in January. The organization Look Ahead America planned the "Justice for J6" event for Saturday and hundreds are expected to attend. CBS News reported that members of far-right extremist groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers plan to participate.

Trump on Thursday released a statement defending those involved on January 6.

"Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election," Trump said in the statement shared on Twitter by his spokesperson Liz Harrington. "In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!"