WASHINGTON — More than half of Republicans who responded to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll said they agree the Capitol riot was led by left-wing protestors “trying to make Trump look bad” – revealing the extent to which right-wing efforts to rewrite the events of January 6 have succeeded among conservative voters.
The poll, released Monday, was conducted between March 30-31 and included a sample of 1,005 Americans ages 18 and older. Participants were asked about their political affiliation, their views on a number of prominent politicians and whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements, including that the 2020 election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump and whether Trump is “at least partly to blame” for starting the January 6 Capitol riot.
The results show a majority of Republicans respondents:
- Disagree Trump had a role in inciting the riot (63%);
- Agree the 2020 election was stolen from Trump (60%);
- Agree the January 6 riot was led by “violent left-wing protestors trying to make Trump look bad.” (55%)
The last point shows the success of some Republicans in promoting a false narrative of what happened at the Capitol on January 6. Those Republicans include Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who used his time during a February 23 Senate hearing about the riot to read a discredited article about left-wing provocateurs into the record and to state that the “vast majority of Trump supporters are pro-law enforcement… the last thing they would do is violate the law.”
That narrative can’t be squared with the actual events of January 6 and the dozens of rioters who have now been charged with assaulting police by the Justice Department, including:
- Jeffrey McKellop, a former Army Special Forces soldier accused of throwing a flagpole “like a spear,” striking an officer;
- Jack Wade Whitton, the Georgia man who bragged he “fed him to the people” after dragging an officer into the mob to be assaulted;
- Patrick Edward McCaughey III, accused of assaulting and crushing DC Police Officer Daniel Hodges against a door;
- George Pierre Tanios and Julian Elie Khater, accused of assaulting police with noxious bear spray;
It also stands in stark contrast to the accounts of the officers who defended the Capitol that day, who have talked about being repeatedly beaten, having racist taunts thrown at them and, in the case of DC Police Officer Michael Fanone, hearing rioters talk about killing him with his own gun.
The effort to paint the rioters as anything other than diehard Trump supporters also doesn’t stand up to facts. Beside the dozens and dozens of rioters who were wearing pro-Trump hats and shirts and carrying pro-Trump signs and flags—some of which were later used to assault police – the rioters themselves have made it clear over and over again that they believed they were acting on the former president’s behalf. The Justice Department says messages show Oath Keepers like Jessica Watkins talked repeatedly in the weeks before the riot about waiting until “POTUS himself activates us” – a signal they apparently believed they’d received – and two officers who are now suing Trump for his role in the riot say they were taunted by assailants yelling “we are listening to Trump – your boss.”
In addition to lies about the Capitol riot, the Reuters/Ipsos poll also shows how prevalent the so-called “Big Lie” that helped fuel January 6 – the baseless claim that the election was “stolen” from Trump – is among Republicans.
According to the poll, 54% of Republicans polled said it was “very important” and another 33% said it was “somewhat important” for the government to pass new voting restrictions “to protect elections from fraud.” There is, to date, no evidence to support the allegations of voter fraud Trump and his attorneys made in dozens of failed lawsuits following the election – and the attorneys who made those claims and several conservative television networks that parroted them are now facing billion-dollar lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems.
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