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May 19, 2022
Fewer Americans Blame Trump For Capitol Riot Now—Democrats Included
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Fewer Americans Blame Trump For Capitol Riot Now—Democrats Included

Topline
Americans increasingly believe former President Donald Trump was not responsible for the January 6, 2021 riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, and 35% of Americans believe too much attention has been paid to the attack, according to a Pew Research Center study published Tuesday, which revealed sharp partisan division on almost every aspect of the riot.

Trump supporters gather near the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

From January 2021 to January 2022, the proportion of Americans who believe Trump held no responsibility for the riot grew from 24% to 32%, while the proportion who believe he held “some” responsibility grew from 23% to 24% and the proportion who believe he held “a lot” of responsibility shrank from 52% to 43%.

This trend was seen in all quadrants of the political landscape, as the proportion of people who believe Trump held “a lot” of responsibility for the riot declined from 18% to 10% among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and from 81% to 70% among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Researchers uncovered overwhelming partisan division on nearly every aspect of the riot, with 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying that too much attention has been paid to the riot, compared to 11% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Views on the House committee investigating the attack were similarly skewed, with only about 21% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents expressing confidence the committee would investigate fairly and reasonably, compared to 65% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Republicans who believe Trump was definitely the true winner of the 2020 election held particularly extreme beliefs, with 82% saying he held no responsibility for the riot, 87% saying too much attention was paid to the riot and 71% saying they were “not at all” confident the House committee would be fair and reasonable.

President Donald Trump arrives at the “Stop The Steal” Rally on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Key Background
Some Trump allies criticized his conduct on the day of the riot before returning to his defense, such as Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who wrote in a text that, by not calling off the rioters, Trump was “destroying his legacy,” shortly before shifting to the position that the riot was possibly the work of “antifa sympathizers.” Since then, the riot has become the subject of numerous conspiracy theories, variously claiming that the rioters were left-wing provocateurs or that the riot was in fact a peaceful protest falsely portrayed as violent. Notably, Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed that nearly all the rioters who entered the Capitol were actually FBI operatives. February 4, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), were censured by the Republican National Committee for serving on the January 6 committee.

Contra
Pew’s survey was conducted January 10-17, prior to reports that Trump had improperly moved White House records—including “love letters” between himself and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un—to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Further Reading
“Why January 6 Might Make Trump Richer” (Forbes)

“RNC Censures Reps. Liz Cheney And Adam Kinzinger For Serving On Jan. 6 Committee” (Forbes)

Read More

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