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Timeline of Capitol riot stirs up controversy. Were rioters already there before Trump’s speech?

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Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn appeared to blame President Donald Trump for last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol Building, though some timelines suggest protesters arrived at the building and began tussling with police before he addressed tens of thousands of supporters.

In an interview with local media, the 25-year-old South Carolina Republican and Congress’ youngest member also blasted the rioters themselves, while adding he won’t support impeaching the president.

“I think we all have a lesson to learn,” Cawthorn, who also spoke at the rally, told ABC11. “As the Bible says, ‘A rudder can move a ship, your tongue can affect great change.’ I was telling that crowd, ‘I’m going to fight for you. Your voice is being heard. I’m going to affect change on your behalf.’”

Cawthorn, who also spoke at the Republican National Convention, added that the riot has hurt the cause of the GOP, which he said now lacks leadership.

“We’ve slid back our movement years and years. We’ve lost years of progress. It’s a sad state of affairs,” Cawthorn continued. “The Republican Party is leaderless right now. It’s very fluid trying to figure out what it is.

“My heart hurts for where the country is at just to see people with American flags and Trump flags, people who normally I associate with, storming our Capitol. It’s sickening and infuriating,” he added.

Noting that the vast majority of people who attended the rally were “peaceful,” the young GOP lawmaker nevertheless ripped those who stormed the Capitol as “weak-minded and pathetic,” adding “they lacked the self-discipline to check their own anger and rage.”

Regarding the president, Cawthorn said he doesn’t believe Trump’s speech meets the legal standard of incitement. He is less certain, however, whether the president’s words and actions meet the constitutional standard for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ regarding impeachable offenses.

“I think when the president said we’re going to march down to the Capitol and I’m going to march with you, that was a major mistake. He never should’ve directed that crowd toward the Capitol,” he told ABC11. “The bad outcome was destined at that point.”

But others say that the riotous protesters arrived at the U.S. Capitol and even began sparring with police before the president spoke.

That includes Raheem Kassam, editor-in-chief of The National Pulse, who wrote on Twitter that “the rioters arrived 20 mins before Trump’s speech began.”

On Thursday, Newsmax TV’s Greg Kelly said he had heard rumblings that there could be trouble ahead of Congress’ certification of the Electoral College votes several days before the Capitol riot.

“People were talking about, if you’ve got friends or family, maybe you should have them leave town, go to the country, go somewhere isolated,” Kelly said. “I heard that here, I’m not in law enforcement. Do you think the Capitol Police got wind there might be some trouble in Washington, D.C.?”

He went on to play a clip of viral video appearing to show protesters-turned-rioters being given access through a barrier by Capitol Police.

“What are we talking about here? Why’d they let their guard down? I knew it was coming, you knew it was coming, and they just seem to let it happen,” Kelly said.

He also noted that news reports the morning of the riot, and hours before President Trump’s speech, were already depicting the rally as a “coup” attempt.

“And by the way the media, all morning long, before it had started to go south, were saying it had already gone south,” Kelly continued. “I heard it. I saw it. I saw the headlines on television.”

Kelly went on to display graphics of a Fox News report, as well as one from NPR and CNN, all of which claimed that the president’s supporters were engaged in violence well before the riots began in “a desperate coup attempt.”

“In some ways, it was a coup, but not like they’re describing,” he said.

Jon Dougherty

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