As thousands of raging Trumpers descended on the nation’s capital Tuesday night, a preview for the main pro-Trump attraction on Wednesday, the mood was insurgent.
“The Second Amendment was made, it was written in the Bill of Rights, for times… like… these!” the gun rights activist Jan Morgan yelled into a microphone at Freedom Plaza, one of a number of speakers to nod toward violent revolt if they didn’t get their way.
Trump’s official designation as a one-term president was just hours away: Wednesday’s main event, following a speech by the Big Man himself outside the White House, will rally against the certification of the electoral college vote at the Capitol Building.
Several high-profile speakers are speaking in addition to Trump Wednesday, including members of Congress who plan on officially objecting to Biden’s win.
Tuesday night had the warm-up acts: White House trade advisor Peter Navarro described himself as “both deplorable and a nerd” and hawked his bogus report on the stolen election. Alex Jones, striking a confoundingly religious tone, said “in the end, God will fulfill his destiny.” MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell dismissed concerns about another civil war: Even Democrats will admit that Trump “really did win” once they see the evidence presented Wednesday, he promised.
Roger Stone, another pardon recipient, called Trump the best President since Lincoln “because he freed this slave!” (Stone pointed to himself.)
The lesser known figures brought out the heat, including some hardcore COVID-19 denialism:
Pro-Trump rally speaker in D.C. tells attendees to hug while yelling “mass spreader event” repeatedly. pic.twitter.com/6ZVJgP3VnT
— The Recount (@therecount) January 5, 2021
“I pledge my life, I pledge my fortune, and I pledge my sacred honor, and I put my name out there, as a Arizona Republican state elector for Donald Trump!” exclaimed Anthony Kern, a Republican from Arizona, a short while later.
There was ample support in the crowd for the right-wing street gang the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, and other armed groups that have swarmed D.C. in recent days. Cindy Chafian, founder of the Eighty Percent Coalition, one of the groups organizing Wednesday’s events, thanked all three groups by name during her remarks. “Enrique!” the crowd chanted at her urging.
Enrique Tarrio, the Proud Boys leader, was arrested Monday on suspicion of burning a Black Lives Matter banner during the last pro-Trump protest in D.C. Police allegedly found two high-capacity magazines in his possession as well.
The Proud Boys and others who relish a good street brawl on Wednesday night exercised that energy against the District of Columbia’s police department.
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) January 6, 2021
But, aside from getting out some of the pent-up anti-cop energy that had been brewing since Tarrio’s arrest, it wasn’t entirely clear that the night had achieved its objective.
The last speaker to take the stage, just after Roger Stone, was Joseph Oltmann, yet another evangelist of the stolen election gospel. Oltmann spent several minutes showing the crowd a complex schematic of precisely how electronic voting machines had allowed Democrats to steal votes, and ultimately the entire election.
Oltmann turned to his audience, seemingly a little unsure of his own work.
“Does that make sense, by the way?” he asked.
“NO!” several in the crowd shouted back.
“No? Crap,” Oltmann said. “I’ve got to do another one of these videos on it.”