A smattering of demonstrators gathered outside the D.C. federal courthouse Thursday to show support for former President Trump ahead of his arraignment on charges linked to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
Dion Cini, 54, who traveled from Brooklyn, N.Y., with other protesters, said he was “really surprised” more people didn’t show up to support the former president, claiming that the Justice Department is trying to stop Trump from becoming president again.
“I want to witness the greatest travesty in American history firsthand,” Cini told The Hill. “I want to see it live with my own eyes, because I can’t believe this is actually happening.”
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Jerrold Arnowitz, 75, of Upton, Mass., said he came with a friend to support rioters jailed for their role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which was spurred by Trump’s false claims of election fraud. Arnowitz’s motivation for protesting Thursday stemmed from his late wife’s request to “take care of the prisoners,” he said.
“I feel like I’m 20 years old, fighting for something,” he said. “This is much better than sitting around playing bingo.”
A handful of onlookers came to protest Trump. Tim Smith, 38, an artist from Gettysburg, Pa., sat outside the federal courthouse holding a large sign reading “LOSER” in red, white and blue.
“[It’s] overdue, but justice takes time,” he said.
Alexandra Tyron-Hopko, a Frederick, Md., resident who gives tours in D.C., swung by the courthouse Thursday morning to watch what some anticipated would be a chaotic scene. Though she said she did not plan to stay for Trump’s proceeding, she called the whole ordeal a “god-awful thing.”
“Personally, I don’t think anybody is above the law,” Tyron-Hopko said. “But if you believe that, then you have to believe they’re innocent until proven guilty.”
The protesters were hugely outnumbered by swarms of media camped out on the south and west sides of the building, some of whom began staking out the courthouse Wednesday afternoon under rows of white tents.
Some 100 reporters and 150 members of the public will be able to watch the 4 p.m. proceeding on a live video feed within the courthouse; the courtroom itself has limited space. A reporter for The Hill is present in the courtroom.
Trump faces four counts, including efforts to defraud the U.S. and obstruct an official proceeding. The Justice Department contends that his efforts to subvert the election results were “fueled by lies,” while Trump has maintained that the investigation is a politically motivated “witch hunt.”