A focus group of Trump voters clashed with an MSNBC analyst over a variety of questions about the January 6 Capitol riot, from the nature of the death of a police officer to Donald Trump’s culpability.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Elise Jordan, the Pittsburgh-area Trump backers pushed back on Jordan’s assertions that a police officer was killed by protesters, that prominent conservatives were in restricted areas of the Capitol building, and that former President Trump did nothing to stop the mob that broke into the Capitol.
The back-and-forth over the January 6 narrative, – which aired Monday on MSNBC – began with Jordan asking the group whether it was “OK” for Republican Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano to be “breaching one of the restricted areas” of the Capitol grounds.
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A male voter questioned the claim immediately, asking, “Which area? Because I saw video where Capitol officers were taking away barriers and unlocking doors for people.” Several others seated with him agreed. Another man added, “They opened the gates and let them in.”
Jordan followed-up: “So it shouldn’t be disqualifying for an elected official if they participate in January 6th?” Most, if not all, either shook their heads or audibly responded, “No.”
The male voter who answered the original question added, “No, as long as he didn’t strike anybody, he didn’t hurt anybody.” A female voter to his left brought up Ashli Babbitt, the U.S. Air Force Veteran who was killed by Capitol Police while trying to enter the inner chambers of the building.
She said, “And the only one that died was a protestor there, not a Capitol police officer.” Another voter, elaborated, “An unarmed female was shot by police.” The female voter declared, “That’s the only one who died.”
Jordan rebutted the claim, stating, “A police officer did die,” and she received pushback. “No,” one responded swiftly, while another explained, “He died of a heart attack.” Another voter said, “It was a stroke.”
She added, “That’s not on-site,” referencing the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died from a stroke one day after allegedly being pepper-sprayed by rioters at the Capitol building.
As Fox News Digital reported last year, “the Washington, D.C., medical examiner’s office ruled that Sicknick suffered a stroke and died from natural causes. The determination of a natural cause of death meant the medical examiner found that a medical condition alone caused his death — it was not brought on by an injury.” More than 100 law enforcement members were injured that day during clashes with protesters.
Switching gears, Jordan asked the group what they thought of the riot in general, which she called “pretty disturbing.” She also mentioned the vandalism and “people throwing excrement at the walls.”
One voter immediately shot back, “It looked a lot like Antifa’s actions to me.” Another added to that thought, “Except on a much smaller scale, it looked the same as the Black Lives Matter riot.” Another touted the more extreme scale of the BLM riots in comparison, saying, “Minneapolis burns, Kenosha burns, Waukesha burns.”
The voter added, “Anybody who harms anybody, anybody who caused property destruction, that needs to be dealt with. But if you’re there making your voice heard at the people’s house no less, that’s again, it’s a fundamental constitutional right of an American citizen. And people should not be being held political prisoner because of it.”
The female voter chimed it, “For misdemeanors. That’s East Germany tactics.”
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The male voter then said, “Our administration, I feel like, is using it as their Reichstag Fire. That’s exactly what they’re using it as.”
Jordan also asked about Trump’s involvement in the riot, asking, “Do you think that President Trump could have quelled the violence that day?” The collection of responses included, “No,” and “I don’t think so.” Another female voter noted, “It started when he was still speaking.”
That voter noted she attended Trump’s speech that day to see him speak one last time, prompting another female to ask her, “So did he tell everybody to go and start rioting?” “No,” the first lady replied, to which the second said, “I didn’t think so.” They both stressed that Trump asked the crowds to protest at the Capitol “peacefully.”
Others repeated the charge from some voices on the right that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., bore some responsibility for the melee for not beefing up security more at the Capitol. Reacting to the focus group on Monday, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said the voters had been “lied to” or “duped” into believing the day was mostly peaceful.
On the right, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway called the voters “legitimately impressive,” saying they had not fallen for a “propaganda press narrative,” in response to a clip of the segment.
The January 6 riot continues to draw extensive media attention as it’s investigated by a House Select Committee. The Jan. 6 committee issued a subpoena to Trump earlier this month in relation to the riot.
Trump is requested to appear for a deposition on Nov. 14 at 10 a.m., either in the U.S. Capitol or via video conference, and provide records regarding his actions on the day when rioters stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.
The committee did not ask Trump to appear for an open hearing. Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives on a count of inciting an insurrection in 2021 but acquitted in the U.S. Senate for his actions around Jan. 6.
Fox News’ Timothy H. J. Nerozzi contributed to this report.