Demonstrating that he remains the dominant figure in the increasingly fascistic Republican Party, Donald Trump delivered the headline speech on Friday at the three-day Faith and Freedom Coalition's “Road to the Majority” conference.
The annual event, held this year from June 16–18 in Nashville, Tennessee, featured hundreds of Republican politicians and their Christian supremacist allies, virtually all of whom warmly embraced the aspiring dictator.
Speakers at the event included several of Trump’s former cabinet officials and Republican co-conspirators, none of whom, more than 17 months after the January 6, 2021 coup attempt, have been held to account for trying to install a fascist dictatorship.
In their speeches, the Republican politicians lamented that their leader was no longer in office and promoted the lie that the 2020 election was stolen or otherwise “rigged,” in the process justifying the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The appearance of hundreds of Republican operatives and dozens of politicians at the pro-Trump event explodes the narrative put forward by President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party that there is an “honorable” section of the Republican Party, committed to defending democracy from Trump’s “crazies.”
This effort to exonerate the Republican Party and cover up the extensive support in the military, police and intelligence apparatus for the attempted overthrow of the election and the Constitution has been on display in the three hearings held thus far by the Democratic-controlled House Select Committee on January 6.
If Trump is the 2024 presidential nominee, there is no question that virtually the entire Republican Party will support him and back any and all extra-constitutional means he will employ to return to power and impose his fascistic agenda.
In his speech which lasted more than 90 minutes, Trump attacked the “unselect committee” as a “one-sided witch-hunt” that was pushing an “insurrection hoax.” He claimed, falsely, that January 6 was not an insurrection because there were “no guns” recovered at the Capitol.
Ignoring the massive evidence, including new information released in the hearings, of a coordinated conspiracy over many months to overturn an election defeat and establish a personalist dictatorship, Trump repeated the transparent lie that the siege of the Capitol to block certification of the Electoral College vote was simply a “protest that got out of hand.”
Trump reiterated his eulogy for QAnon adherent and Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by police to prevent her from breaking into the House chamber and enabling the mob to seize and likely kill lawmakers targeted by Trump’s brown shirts.
“Nobody was killed,” Trump declared, “except for a wonderful young woman named Ashli Babbitt, who was viciously shot and, in my opinion, for absolutely no reason by a police officer.”
Trump promised that if he becomes president in 2024, he will consider pardoning the “January 6 political prisoners,” who he claimed were being treated “worse than terrorists and murderers.”
He attacked “weak” Republicans, such as former Vice President Mike Pence and former Attorney General William Barr, for bailing on his efforts to overthrow the government.
On Thursday, the Committee revealed that Trump’s mob was at one point a mere 40 feet away from Pence during the attack on the Capitol. In a stunning closing statement, retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig warned that Trump and his allies “would attempt to overturn” the “2024 election in the same way they attempted to overturn the 2020 election.”
In his speech, Trump dismissed Luttig’s statements and said Pence “had a chance to be great.” Pence “had a chance to be historic, but just like Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people ... Mike did not have the courage to act.”
Trump demanded that after the Republicans take back control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections they begin investigations and promptly issue subpoenas against his political enemies, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Select Committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Schiff.
Appealing to the religious zealots in attendance and neo-Nazis watching internationally, Trump and other speakers attacked LGBTQ+ people and public school teachers as sexual deviants and “groomers.”
“Our children are captives to unhinged Marxist educators who are pushing inappropriate sexual, racial and political material on our children from the youngest possible age,” said Trump.
The Republican campaign against LGBTQ+ people has been taken up with vigor by the party’s fascist supporters. The Washington Post reported that a study released Thursday by the conflict-monitor group ACLED found that “anti-LGBTQ activity, including demonstrations and attacks, increased more than four times from 2020 to 2021, from 15 incidents to 61.”
Last week, 31 fascists with the group Patriot Front were arrested for conspiracy to riot at the “Pride in the Park” event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. That same weekend, Proud Boys stormed the “Drag Queen Story Hour” at the San Lorenzo Library in Oakland, California, and threatened Kyle Chu, whose drag name is Panda Dulce.
One of the richest Republicans who spoke at the “Faith and Freedom” event was Trump’s former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The Michigan billionaire and opponent of public education resigned two days after Trump’s coup failed, citing “violence” at the Capitol. However, like most Republicans, after taking the measure of Joe Biden and the Democrats’ feckless response to the coup, she has since embraced Trump.
Other speakers included former US Ambassador and Kansas senator Sam Brownback and Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Nikki Haley, Trump’s Ambassador to the UN, who has since distanced herself from the former president, also spoke.
At least two of Trump’s Republican co-conspirators in the House, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and former congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas, spoke at the conference, as well as Florida Rep. Michael Waltz and Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw.
Another notable speaker at the conference was Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, niece of Utah Senator Mitt Romney. Earlier this year, the RNC passed a unanimous resolution declaring Trump’s coup “legitimate political discourse,” while at the same time passing a resoution to censure Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the only two elected Republicans serving on the House Select Committee into January 6.
Prior to Trump’s speech, several Republican senators spoke, including Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn, both of Tennessee, Rick Scott (Florida), and Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, both of South Carolina.
Graham was effusive in his praise of the ex-president and his gangster persona, telling the assembly, “You know what I liked about Trump? Everybody was afraid of him … including me.”