For Trump, the Debate Was Another Chapter in the Rewriting of Jan. 6

By Jess Bidgood at The New York Times: About halfway through Thursday night’s presidential debate, the moderators asked former President Donald Trump about Jan. 6.

Amid all the focus on President Biden’s unsteady performance, it might have been easy to miss Trump’s answer.

Trump seized the moment to turn the debate stage — with the biggest audience he’s enjoyed since his presidency — into the latest theater for his yearslong effort to rewrite the story of Jan. 6, 2021. And he twice ignored questions about whether he would accept the results of the next election before agreeing to do so only under certain conditions.

Over the course of several exchanges with Biden and the moderators, CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, Trump downplayed the most damaging attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812, falsely blamed the security lapses that day on former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and defended the more than 1,000 people who have been charged with participating in the deadly violence.

It was the latest step in Trump’s attempt to see if his continuing lies about Jan. 6 — an alternate story he tells about the day that was once mostly fodder for far-right audiences — can persuade mainstream voters as well.

And the former president’s critics say that, as unnerving as Biden’s performance might have been, Trump’s embrace of Jan. 6 and his refusal to agree to unqualified acceptance of a democratic election were worse.

“It’s a concerted effort to try to de-weaponize Jan. 6,” said former Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican who served on the House select committee that investigated the events of that day and who endorsed Biden this week. “It’s part of creating this utter confusion where the average person is, like, ‘I know what I saw on Jan. 6, but maybe I didn’t see what I saw.’”

‘You could feel it’

Trump has called Jan. 6, when rioters angry over his election loss attacked the Capitol, a beautiful day. He has frequently leaned on his House Republican allies to defend and re-litigate his actions that day, for which he was impeached. In recent months, Trump has offered increasingly vocal support to the people charged in connection with the day’s events — a group he has taken to calling “warriors” and “hostages.”

More here.