Trump’s protest call was met with a muted reaction from supporters

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s calls for protests ahead of his expected impeachment In New York, there has been a largely muted reaction from supporters, with even some of his most ardent loyalists dismissing the idea as a waste of time or a law enforcement trap.

The ambivalence raises questions about whether Trump, the front-runner in the 2024 presidential race who maintains a loyal following, has the power to mobilize far-right supporters the way he did two years ago in the run-up to Jan. 6, 2021. Rebellion in the US Capitol. He also suggests that the hundreds of arrests that followed the Capitol riots, Not to mention convictions and long prison terms may have dampened the desire for mass unrest to repeat itself.

Still, law enforcement in New York continues to closely monitor online chats warning of protests and violence in the event of Trump’s arrest, with threats varying in specificity and credibility, four officials told The Associated Press. Posted mostly online and in chat groups, the messages included calls for armed protesters to block law enforcement and try to stop any potential arrests, officials said.

The Young Republicans Club of New York announced plans to hold a protest at an undisclosed location in Manhattan on Monday, while social media platforms saw inflammatory but isolated posts from supporters calling for armed confrontations with law enforcement in Trump’s Florida, Mar-A. – Lago.

But nearly two days after Trump announced on his Truth Social platform that he would be arrested on Tuesday and called on followers to protest, there were few signs that his appeal had inspired his supporters to organize and hold events like the Jan. 6 rally. In fact, a prominent organizer of the protests that preceded the Capitol uprising tweeted that he intended to stay away.

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Ali Alexander, who, as an organizer with the Stop the Steal movement, has held rallies to support Trump’s baseless claims that Democrats stole the 2020 election from him, warned Trump supporters that they would be “arrested or worse” if they protested in New York. .

“You have no freedom or rights there,” he tweeted.

One of Alexander’s allies in the Stop The Stealing campaign was conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has fueled claims of election fraud on his Infowars show. Alexander posted that he spoke with Jones and said neither of them would object this time.

“We both have had enough of fighting the government,” Alexander wrote. No billionaire is paying our taxes.

This contrasts with the days before the Capitol riots, when Trump roused supporters by inviting them to a “big protest” in Washington on Jan. 6, tweeting, “Be there, it’s going to be wild!” Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol that day, breaking windows and violently clashing with officers. In an ultimately unsuccessful effort to stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

Since then, around 1,000 rioters have been arrested, many racking up steep legal bills and expressing regret and remorse in court for their actions. Some complained that they felt abandoned by Trump. And conspiracy theories that the riots were fueled or even organized by undercover law enforcement informants in the crowd continued to flourish online, with Trump supporters citing the anxiety over the past two days as new grounds to avoid large-scale protests. .

“How many feds/federal assets are there to turn a protest against Pres Trump’s political arrest into violence?” MP Marjorie-Taylor Green tweeted. The Georgia Republican also floated a conspiracy theory that an FBI informant instigated the Jan. 6 riot.

“Has Ray Epps booked his flight to New York yet?” he tweeted on Sunday.

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Epps, an Arizona man, was filmed urging others to enter the Capitol. Conspiracy theorists believe that Epps was an FBI informant because he was removed from the “Wanted” list on January 6 without being charged. In January, a House committee that investigated the Capitol attack said the claims about Epps were “supported.”

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, which has tracked the Stop the Steal movement online, said the anxiety of being trapped by so-called agent provocateurs leads to “paranoia that if they go and commit violence, they might get caught. And there may be consequences. “

“It seems to reduce the willingness of a lot of people to make big statements about wanting to go out” and engage in violence, he said.

A grand jury is investigating the hush money payments Women who claimed to have had sexual contact with Trump. Prosecutors have not said when their work might be completed or when charges might be filed.

Conflicting feelings about how much to support Trump in his fight against persecution extend to the political realm. His own vice president, Mike Pence, who is expected to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination, blasted Trump as “reckless” for his actions on Jan. 6 in an interview with ABC News this weekend, saying history will hold him accountable — despite That he repeated the former president’s rhetoric that the indictment would be a “politically charged prosecution.”

“I have no doubt that President Trump knows how to take care of himself. And he will be. But that does not justify the politically charged prosecution of the former President of the United States of America,” Pence said.

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The opening day of the House Republican Conference in Orlando, Florida, was quickly overshadowed by the potential indictment. Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans called the possibility outrageous and criticized District Attorney Alvin Bragg for what they called a “senseless crime” in New York.

McCarthy said he has brought together congressional investigators to investigate whether Bragg used Justice Department grants to further the Trump case. But despite the harsh rhetoric toward Bragg, Republican leaders have not heeded Trump’s calls for protesters to “take back our nation.”

“I don’t think people should object to it. I think President Trump, when you talk to him, he doesn’t think that either,” McCarthy said.


Kunzelman reported from Silver Spring, Maryland. Associated Press writers Colin Long and Michael Balsamo in Washington, D.C., and Farnoosh Amiri in Orlando, Florida, contributed to this report.

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