Politico reviewed the social media posts of guests at last week's announcement and at least six had shared photos of themselves in Washington on the day of the insurrection, and some of them shared images and videos of themselves marching to the Capitol after Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally.
The former president did not mention the insurrection during his 2024 announcement, but his guests reveal how closely he remains linked to the violent riot that broke out as Congress certified Joe Biden's election win, and they're emboldened by their proximity to his next campaign.
“Jan. 6 was a crock of sh*t, as pretty much anybody who was in attendance knows,” said Ian Smith, a New Jersey gym owner and failed congressional candidate who joined Trump in Palm Beach. "[It was] an opportunity to make Trump look bad, and it was pulled off brilliantly. I’ll give it up to whoever masterminded it.”
Elijah Schaffer, who went inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 while reporting for Glenn Beck's conservative media outlet The Blaze, fled a report from the Mar-a-Lago announcement for The Next News Network, where he called on Trump to "run on election fraud" in 2024 or "really we have no hope."
Others who took part in both events spread conspiracy theories about the so-called "fedsurrection."
“Certain witnesses of the events of January 6, 2021 were not spectators, they were animators of these events,” posted Debbie Ferro-Murphy on her Instagram shortly after the riot. “The American people deserve to get to the bottom of who was intentionally involved in it and why."
Blake Marnell, whose brick-patterned "wall" suits have helped him gain notoriety, was also at both events, although he declined to comment, while "Stop the Steal" organizer Alex Bruesewitz said he did not march to the Capitol and reportedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when asked to testify by the Jan. 6 committee.
“I attended President Trump’s announcement at Mar-a-Lago because I’m a strong supporter of President Trump," Bruesewitz told Politico in a statement. "America needs him back in the White House to fix Biden’s mess. I similarly attended his speech at the Ellipse because I share President Trump’s concerns about election integrity. To be clear, I did not attend the event at the Capitol on January 6th.”
Adam Radogna, a frequent Trump rally attendee and one of the "Front Row Joes," was a special guest at Mar-a-Lago last week and was just outside the Capitol when rioters broke inside, but he told Politico that “both events were obviously good events," but he disavowed some of the "horrible" things that happened during the insurrection.“It didn’t make sense, but at the time, I don’t think people were thinking and they just did it," Radogna said.
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung dismissed the presence of those supporters at both events as unimportant.
“This is just another disgusting example of has-been media outlets targeting President Trump’s supporters and the MAGA movement simply because they attended last week’s announcement speech,” Cheung said. “After two years of skyrocketing inflation, a complete surrender at the border, and the recent American job-killing climate deal reached at COP27, Biden has done more damage to this country than any president in history.”