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The intensity of the early days of 2020 are gone. The Capitol riots are over. The most egregious Republican lies and conspiracy theories about the presidential election have subsided, to a point. But Donald Trump’s insistence that he’s still the rightful winner of the 2020 contest can still have a hold on the system — so much so that the continued threat of his influence is actually keeping some of his supporters in jail following the 6 January attack on the Capitol.
Multiple federal judges across the country have justified keeping Capitol riot suspects in jail ahead of their trials, given the former president’s continued provocations, according to a legal analysis from The Washington Post.
“The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away; six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention the near-daily fulminations of the former President,” one judge wrote, denying bond to a Capitol suspect from Colorado.
“Unfortunately,” added another judge, “political dynamics that gave way to January 6th have not faded,” in the case of a man accused of tossing an axe and desk during the riots.
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 400 people in 40 states with crimes related to the attack on the Capitol, according to a USA Today database, and many of them have directly cited the former president as their inspiration. He spent months claiming, without evidence, the contest was rigged, right up until the minutes before the riot broke out, when he gave a speech telling his supporters, “you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing.”
“The 2020 presidential election, that election, the 2020 presidential election, was by far the most corrupt election in the history of our country,” he said at a recent comeback speech in North Carolina.
The message has been so influential on his supporters that nearly a third of Republicans in a recent poll said they believed the outrageous claim that the ex-president would be reinstated this year, even though the election results have been certified.
Some 29 per cent of Republicans think Mr Trump will be back in the White House this year, according to a poll on Wednesday from Politico-Morning Consult.
Mr Trump, who told the people who stormed the Capitol, “We love you, you’re very special,” on the day of the attack, denies any responsibility for their actions in his name. He was impeached for inciting the riot, although he was acquitted in the Senate, despite a bipartisan majority of senators voting to convict him.
In a recent filing, asking to toss out a lawsuit from Democratic lawmakers accusing Mr Trump and others of fomenting the attack, attorneys wrote that such a case would “essentially hold politicians vicariously liable for the actions of their supporters, substantially chilling critically important political speech.”
The Republican party more broadly, meanwhile, has blocked attempts to launch a 9/11-style, bipartisan investigative commission into the Capitol riots, which could provide further clarity around the link or lack thereof between the president’s words and his supporters actions.