“It was the media that went out and pushed this whole narrative about ‘this was an insurrection’ and ‘this was just way too out of hand’ and ‘these are not patriots,’” said Maura, who spoke in a recent focus group of Trump supporters from Arizona. Calling it a largely “peaceful” day, she said: “Nothing could be further from the truth. It was just a bunch of people who were overexuberant.”
“One hundred percent orchestrated by antifa and the left; one hundred percent,” said Annette, another Trump supporter. “There were a lot of people who went down for the right reasons, but not the ones who caused the riots. Not the ones who caused violence.”
Jeff saw an even more nefarious plot: “It goes a lot deeper than antifa,” he said. “I think it goes to George Soros and all the people in government that are bought and part of the deep state. They were trying to set up a false-flag event.”
“I don’t even really think about it much,” Kurt said. “It wasn’t an insurrection. Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 was a protest.”
I agreed to identify these Trump supporters in Arizona by only their first names so I could listen in to the focus group. It was moderated by Sarah Longwell for the Republican Accountability Project, which conducted voter interviews throughout the Trump administration.