Washington Correspondent Former US president Donald Trump has claimed the “real insurrection” in the US happened not at the Capitol in Washington on January 6th last year when his supporters stormed the building, but in the preceding presidential election which he again insisted was rigged.
In a wide-ranging speech in Arizona on Saturday, Mr Trump also criticised the “persecution” of those detained by authorities for their alleged involvement in the assault on the Capitol, as well as for the conditions in which they were being held.
The attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters delayed for several hours the formal certification of the result of the 2020 presidential election. Democrats have described the attack as an attempted coup and an insurrection.
Mr Trump also appeared to give credence to the theory that individuals linked to the US government may have played some role in inciting or participating in the riot on January 6th – for which there is no evidence.
“Exactly how many of those present at the Capitol on January 6th were FBI confidential informants, agents or otherwise working directly or indirectly with an agency of the United States government. People want to hear this,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump strongly criticised President Joe Biden over the state of the US economy, inflation, supply chain problems, immigration at the southern border and the “most embarrassing” exit of US troops from Afghanistan, which he called a “surrender”.
“Our country is being destroyed ... its not even believable,” he told supporters.
This prompted sections of the crowd to chant: “lock him up”.
On several occasions in his speech Mr Trump returned to his assertion, for which no credible evidence has been produce, that the presidential election in November 2020 was “rigged”.
He said “the fake news and the lamestream media ...they refused to talk about it”.
Critics of the former president describe his claims about the election being stolen as “the big lie”.
In his speech in Arizona Mr Trump said: “They say, ‘well it is unsubstantiated and the big lie’. The big lie. The big lie is a lot of bulls**t. That’s what it is.”
Mr Trump did not say whether he planned to run again for the presidency in 2024. However, he said: “In 2024 we are going to take back the White House. ”
“If an election were held today we would trounce them so badly in a landslide in every way, just as we really did on November 3rd .”
Last week Mr Biden blamed Mr Trump for the violence that took place at the Capitol building in Washington. He also suggested that Mr Trump and his allies had held “a dagger at the throat of American democracy”.