Three months after a Trump-supporting mob stormed the US Capitol and Congress, what is the fallout of the failed insurrection for the US?
As the FBI continues to conduct its biggest investigation since 9/11, in the latest interview on ITV, two insurrectionists, one of them Joshua Pruitt, a member of the far-right group the Proud Boys, and to David Medina, who shouted “you did this to us” to our camera on the day of the insurrection, who entered the Capitol say they did nothing wrong and have nothing to apologize for.
Pruitt is the first and only Proud Boy involved in the US riot who has come forward for a television interview.
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Pruitt leapt over a guard rail to enter the building on January 6, footage from inside shows him at the front the mob that soon clashed with police.
He still maintains he wasn’t there for violence:
In fact, he says he didn’t do anything wrong – despite the long list of charges he is to face at trial next month: Civil disorder, obstruction, aiding and abetting destruction of government property entering a restricted building, disorderly disruptive conduct, acts of physical violence.
If convicted, he could face years in jail. He says it’s part of a “narrative”.
Asked if he’s frightened it’s going to stick to him, Pruitt says “no” – and he’s not frightened of going to jail either.
He blames that same “narrative” for what the Proud Boys have widely become known as – far-right extremists. Indeed, in Canada, the group is classed as a terrorist organization.
Pruitt says because the Proud Boys isn’t all white in its membership – it cannot be racist.
That sense of disillusion is something mirrored by the words of pro-Trump Republican David Medina.
Having entered the Capitol, he screamed down saying:
Medina has not been arrested for his actions on January 6.
He says he was “under the impression that we were all peacefully protesting” on that day.
He claims had he “known that the violence was going on,” and that officers were being assaulted and “that people had broken into that building” – he would have left.
It’s unclear how he thinks people would have gained access to the building without having broken in.
He says the responsibility lies instead with the American media – and he blames them for “spinning” January 6 as “some big insurrection”. Something he says is false.
Medina tries to compare left wing protests with the right wing January 6 riot.
He claims leftist violence is more threatening than those on the right and that a “double standard” is at play.
But that is simply untrue, according to some independent security analysts.
Former Assistant Director of the FBI, Frank Figiluzzi firmly rejects the comparison.
The former FBI boss says America should instead be focusing on who exactly is a threat to the country – and how they can be properly tracked.
And it is an internal threat Mr Figiluzzi says is most pressing: “The threat is us”.
“The role of social media is so prominent in radicalisation right now that the FBI cannot possibly sort through hundreds of thousands or millions of posts and videos and tweets and determine who is aspirational,” says Mr Figiluzzi.
That the insurrectionists feel emboldened, however, is not the sole responsibility of the individuals involved on January 6 – and interviewed by the media.
“These people are victims,” says Imran Ahmed of the Centre for Digital Hate.
“They’ve been preached misinformation, they have fallen for it, and they are the ones who pay the price.”
The real perpetrators, Mr. Ahmed says, are the people behind that misinformation.
We risk blaming misled individuals “for the bad actions of violent extremists, of groomers, of organisers and people like Donald Trump who took advantage of the misinformation to try and gain political advantage for himself.”