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Trump continues to lie, says 'real insurrection' happened when he lost election

Former President Trump and his then-running mate, Mike Pence, share a kiss, as they shake hands after Pence's acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Former President Trump and his then-running mate, Mike Pence, share a kiss, as they shake hands after Pence's acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Former President Donald Trump continued to champion the lie that he was unfairly stripped of office in the White House race against President Biden, saying Wednesday that the "real insurrection" happened on Election Day 2020.

"The Unselect Committee of partisan Democrats, and two very weak and pathetic RINOs, should come to the conclusion after spending many millions of dollars, that the real insurrection happened on November 3rd, the Presidential Election, not on January 6th—which was a day of protesting the Fake Election results," Trump said in an unfounded, conspiratorial statement.

The deadly January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was egged on by Trump in the waning days of his single-term presidency, with protesters — some of whom waved anti-American flags — storming the Capitol building in an attempt to stop the certification of Biden's election victory.

High-ranking lawmakers, including then-Vice President Mike Pence, had to be evacuated to safety as some of the protesters threatened violence, including chants of "Hang Mike Pence," against those inside.

Trump's statement comes after Pence, himself a major target of the insurrectionists' ire, attempted to downplay the bloody riot as little more than a protest by rightfully aggrieved Americans.

"I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration's failed agenda by focusing on one day in January," Pence said during a Monday interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity. "They want to use that one day to try and demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believed we could be strong again and prosperous again and supported our administration in 2016 and 2020."

After Trump left office, Pence had tried to distance himself from Trump about the insurrection, saying he and the former president would never see "eye to eye" about the day.

Pence's new comments come as many Republican officials are rallying behind Trump and excusing the behavior of some on Jan. 6. Crossing Trump is seen as politically problematic for Republicans seeking relevance and want a future in politics.

Pence, who establishment Republicans had initially hoped would serve as a counterweight to Trump's most brash instincts, ultimately came to serve Trump loyally in the White House and beyond, as did much of the party leadership.

In the Monday interview, Pence said he and Trump had parted amicably after the insurrection and that he and Trump have talked "a number of times" since leaving office.

Trump on Wednesday praised Pence's Hannity interview, claiming it "destroys and discredits the Unselect Committees [sic] Witch Hunt on the events of January 6th."

He added, "It will continue anyways, however, because the Fake News doesn't want to focus on Afghanistan, Russia, Taiwan and China, the Border, inflation, and a failing economy."

Trump continues to stoke speculation that he could run again for the presidency in 2024. This weekend, he is heading to the early state of Iowa to give a speech.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.