Key Point: “When Donald Trump plunged into the 2024 presidential race last week at his Mar-a-Lago club, he was surrounded by sidekicks, superfans and self-described sycophants.
Among them was another subset of Trump world figures who look poised to help form the coalition behind his third presidential bid: those sympathetic to or even a part of the riot on the Capitol on January 6.”
POLITICO: “Trump’s Jan. 6 supporters feted at his Mar-a-Lago campaign launch”
When Donald Trump plunged into the 2024 presidential race last week at his Mar-a-Lago club, he was surrounded by sidekicks, superfans and self-described sycophants.
Among them was another subset of Trump world figures who look poised to help form the coalition behind his third presidential bid: those sympathetic to or even a part of the riot on the Capitol on January 6.
A POLITICO review of social media posts of the Mar-a-Lago guests, as well as encounters at the venue, revealed at least six who were in Washington the day of Trump’s speech and the insurrection. Some of them marched on the Capitol and then posted pictures and videos of themselves on social media in the hours and days after.
Trump refrained from mentioning Jan. 6 during his presidential bid announcement. But the inclusion of those who were in Washington on Jan. 6 at his Mar-a-Lago event underscores how closely linked he remains to the melee that unfolded that day. Rather than isolating and ostracizing Jan. 6 figures, Trump’s team has kept them in the fold, even promising pardons for those who were there.
In the months since Jan. 6, prosecutors have brought charges against hundreds of rioters, several of whom have expressed regret for their actions. Others have tried to draw distinctions between being at the Capitol that day and storming it.
Elijah Schaffer, who attended Trump’s campaign launch, is one of those individuals drawing distinctions. He was inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, claiming to be documenting the insurrection as a reporter for Glenn Beck’s conservative media outlet The Blaze. He was with a far-right group that broke into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and wrote on Twitter that afternoon that “I am inside with the thousands of revolutionaries who have stormed the building [Capitol].”
In a newly released video shown to jurors at the trial of Riley Williams and posted online by NBC News last week, Schaffer is seen filming himself in Pelosi’s office mirror and appears to be saying, “Guys we are in, we are in Nancy Pelosi’s office right now. I have to do this in a mirror. We have, we are occupying the Capitol building.”
He did not respond to a POLITICO request for comment.
At Mar-a-Lago last week, Schaffer filed a report for conservative outlet The Next News Network. And in a video he posted of himself at Trump’s club, he accused news reporters of only being interested in capturing attendees with “patriot insignia on them because they want to make all the Trump people look like they’re crazy or they’re all connected to the January 6 event.” He argued that if Trump didn’t “run on election fraud” in his 2024 campaign, then “really we have no hope; we have no chance.”
Others at Mar-a-Lago last week — and on the Washington Mall on Jan. 6 — felt similarly that Trump was a victim of a rogue Justice Department and an inherently corrupt election system. They include Debbie Ferro-Murphy, who posed for pictures on Instagram from Trump’s announcement wearing an American flag scarf and lapel pin. Ferro-Murphy, who didn’t respond to interview requests, has argued in posts on social media that Jan. 6 was a “‘Fedsurrection,’ and not an insurrection.”
“Certain witnesses of the events of January 6, 2021 were not spectators, they were animators of these events,” she wrote, after posting pictures with the Capitol behind her on Jan. 6. “The American people deserve to get to the bottom of what really happened that day, who knew about it, and who was intentionally involved in it and why.”