WASHINGTON (AFP) - Former US president Donald Trump called the 2021 Capitol assault "the greatest movement in the history of our country" in a meandering rant Thursday (June 9) - hours ahead of a congressional hearing aimed at demonstrating his culpability for the deadly siege.
The Jan 6 insurrection by hundreds of Trump supporters, which left five people dead, has been described by investigators as the culmination of a months-long criminal conspiracy led by the Republican leader to cling to power after his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
"January 6th was not simply a protest, it represented the greatest movement in the history of our Country to Make America Great Again," Trump said on his Truth Social platform.
"It was about an Election that was Rigged and Stolen, and a country that was about to go to HELL."
One of the central missions of the panel investigating Trump and his inner circle has been to determine how his attempts to overturn his 2020 defeat through a campaign of bogus and debunked claims of election fraud played into the violence of Jan 6.
The bipartisan House committee has spent a year probing his attempts to pressure state and federal officials, his silence as his supporters overwhelmed the Capitol, and various other alleged unlawful plots to overturn the will of millions of voters.
In a three-post morning tirade, the president described the committee's seven Democrats and two Republicans as "political thugs," rehashing many of his favourite falsehoods about "hoax" investigations into his alleged misconduct.
He also repeated his false claim, spread by numerous Republicans, that he called for 20,000 National Guard troops to protect the Capitol and was turned down by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In reality, there is no record of any such request to Pelosi and, in any case, she has no power over the movements of the DC National Guard, a responsibility that fell to Trump himself and his army secretary.