Trump finds new ways to praise and celebrate Jan. 6 rioters

Donald Trump hasn’t exactly been subtle about his support for Jan. 6 rioters, with the former president offering, among other things, assurances about future pardons. Indeed, we’ve reached the point in the cycle in which the presumptive Republican nominee refers to Jan. 6 rioters as “hostages” in practically every public appearance, as he focuses on his bond with suspected and convicted insurrectionists.

He continues to find new ways, however, to praise those who attacked his own country’s Capitol in his name. The Hill reported overnight:

Former President Trump defended his supporters who rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and called them “warriors” at a Nevada rally on Sunday. “Those J6 warriors — they were warriors — but they were really, more than anything else, they’re victims of what happened,” Trump said at the rally, speaking to a crowd of supporters.

In fact, the presumptive GOP nominee appeared quite animated on the subject. In addition to touting the rioters as “warriors” and “victims,” Trump told his Nevada audience, “All they were doing is protesting a rigged election. That’s what they were doing.”

He proceeded to say that police officers encouraged the rioters to enter the Capitol — a bizarre and discredited claim — before insisting, “There has never been people treated more horrifically than J6 hostages.”

No, really, that’s what he said.

The result is an increasingly head-spinning political dynamic without precedent in the American tradition: A convicted criminal, who’s surrounded himself with other convicted criminals, is running on a presidential platform of championing the interests of still other convicted criminals.

House Speaker Mike Johnson declared last week that voters should see the Republican Party as “the rule of law team.” The fact that he said this with a straight face continues to be unsettling.

But let’s also not lose sight of the broader contrasts. President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign recently enlisted three police officers from Jan. 6 — Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, Officer Harry Dunn, and Officer Danny Hodges — to hit the campaign trail as surrogates, warning voters about the threat Trump poses to our system of government.

The result is a dynamic in which the former Republican president is siding with those who committed acts of violence against police officers, while the incumbent Democratic president is aligned with the officers themselves.

What’s more, none of this is being pushed to the background. On the contrary, Team Trump and Team Biden may not agree on much, but it appears both are eager to put the Jan. 6 attack at the center of the 2024 presidential election. Heck, the presumptive Republican nominee isn’t just championing Jan. 6 criminals, he’s also called for prosecutions against Jan. 6 investigators and has expressed support for prosecuting members of the Capitol police.

Let no one say voters aren’t being presented with stark contrasts this year.