Three years to the day that supporters of Donald J. Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s electoral victory, Mr. Trump said yet again that the mob had been acting “peacefully and patriotically,” and he criticized the congressional committee that investigated the attack as “fake.”
Speaking to a crowd of several hundred people on Saturday in Newton, Iowa, Mr. Trump, who faces criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, made only passing references to the riot, focusing much of his speech instead on criticizing President Biden’s policies.
But as he spoke for nearly two hours, Mr. Trump repeatedly invoked the lie at the heart of the riot: that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
“The radical left Democrats rigged the presidential election of 2020,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump’s speech in Newton came a day after Mr. Biden forcefully condemned the former president as “pro-insurrectionist” and a perilous threat to democracy.
Mr. Trump offered only minimal response to those denunciations on Saturday, calling Mr. Biden’s speech “ridiculous” and arguing that the president was overly focused on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack because “he’s got no successes” to speak of.
And, as he frequently has in recent months, Mr. Trump sought to deflect accusations that he and his policies are anti-democratic by pointing his finger at Mr. Biden.
“He’s a threat to democracy because he’s incompetent,” Mr. Trump said, even as he accused Mr. Biden of being the mastermind behind the criminal charges against him. There is no evidence that President Biden has meddled in any of the four criminal cases against Mr. Trump, which span federal and state courts.
“He’s corrupt. He’s incompetent. He has no idea,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Biden. “He weaponized the D.O.J. and the F.B.I.”
More than 1,200 people have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, 170 have been convicted of crimes at trial and more than 700 have pleaded guilty. On Saturday, Mr. Trump called those imprisoned for the attack “hostages,” as he has before.
Many of those in attendance in Newton, and at a rally in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Friday, said they supported mild punishment for anyone who had, in fact, committed a crime on Jan. 6. But they added that the severity of the event had been overstated and that the investigations into the riot had no merit.
“You do the crime, you do the time. But just being there is not a crime,” Bruce Fedders, 67, said in Sioux Center, adding, “Jan. 6 — I won’t even use ‘insurrection.’”
Gary Leffler, a Trump caucus captain and former candidate for the House of Representatives, said he had marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, though he had not gone inside the building.
“There was no feeling from anyone that was there that this was an insurrection,” Mr. Leffler, 62, said in Newton. “That’s a pile of horse manure.”
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