Ron DeSantis rejected the claim that January 6 was a riot and argued that it was just a protest that turned into a riot.
Florida’s governor acknowledged how the incident was ‘unfortunate’ but maintained that it was not an attempt to overthrow the US government.
He argued that those who branded the protesters ‘seditious’ were ‘simply wrong’, despite six Oath Keepers being convicted of seditious conspiracy in the past two years.
His comments came as he sat down for a surprise interview with British comedian Russell Brand to run for president in 2024.
At one point the comic even asked DeSantis what kind of underwear he wears, adding ‘Joe Biden… that guy goes commando’.
Ron DeSantis told Russell Brand on Friday that he does not believe there was a concerted effort to overturn the results of the January 6, 2020 election.
DeSantis said the Jan. 6, 2021 rally ‘turned out, you know, in a way that was unfortunate.’
Asked about January 6, DeSantis said: ‘If somebody was honestly rebelling against the US government, prove that that’s what happened and I’d be happy to accept it, but what you’re showing me is that there were a lot of protesters and it turned out, you know, in a way that was unfortunate.
‘But it is wrong to say they were traitors.’
Elsewhere in the wide-ranging interview, the brand cuts to advertising for the show’s underwear sponsor, telling his guest: ‘I don’t know about you, Ron, but I’m getting pretty hot out there.’
He added: ‘I don’t know what Donald Trump wears in his personal wardrobe. But I’ll tell you, Joe Biden, that guy goes commando.’ Brand then moved on without DeSantis responding.
DeSantis’ comments about Jan. 6 run counter to some, who believe rioters descended on the U.S. Capitol to overthrow the Biden administration.
Six Oath Keepers, including founder Stuart Rhodes, were convicted of treasonous conspiracy in what prosecutors said was a plot to stop the transfer of power.
Former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tario and three other members of that extremist group were indicted in May on charges of treasonous conspiracy.
They were convicted on civil war-era charges, which require prosecutors to prove the men conspired to overthrow the government, for a week-long plot that culminated in the attack.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riots.
More than 600 of them have pleaded guilty, while about 100 have been convicted after a decision by a judge or jury.
More than 550 riot defendants were sentenced, with more than half receiving prison terms ranging from six days to 18 years.
More than 250 people have been charged with assaulting or obstructing law enforcement who were trying to protect the Capitol.
DeSantis spoke to Brand as part of his campaign’s efforts to turn around his current lackluster effort
Donald Trump is seen on January 6, 2021 – shortly before storming the Capitol. He faces possible criminal charges related to his actions after the 2020 election
DeSantis also said in his remarks Friday that the amount of money the US Capitol Police is being paid in the wake of the attack is ‘ridiculous’.
The Florida governor is now challenging both Trump and Pence for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump, who hailed the rioters as ‘patriots’, faces possible charges for his role in the events surrounding January 6 and attempts to overturn the election results.
Pence slammed Trump over the riots, saying the former president endangered his family and everyone in the Capitol that day and history will hold him accountable.
DeSantis’ comments are in line with other Republican supporters of Trump who have played down the attacks to varying degrees.
DeSantis has been trying to appeal to Trump’s base while campaigning for the White House, often portraying Trump as failing to follow through on his own policies.
Florida’s governor has made similar comments in the past dismissing the attack as an insurgency, saying at a press conference in January 2022 that it was “an insult to the people” to call it an insurgency when “no one has been charged.”
At a June campaign event in New Hampshire, DeSantis said he was ‘not happy’ with what happened on January 6 but said ‘we have to move on with these things. We cannot look back.’
Earlier this week, DeSantis criticized Trump’s move on January 6, saying: ‘He should have come out more forcefully.’
However, he questioned whether Trump’s behavior was a crime.
DeSantis’ interview came a day after his campaign was hit with more bad news, with a new poll showing entrepreneur and political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy tied with him behind Trump.
The former president continues to dominate the field, attracting the support of 48 percent of Republicans nationwide in a poll conducted by Kaplan Strategies.
After Trump, both Ramaswamy and DeSantis are tied at 12 percent.
‘Ramaswamy has more than doubled the performance of six other hopefuls, marking a significant surprise in the poll,’ Doug Kaplan, founder of Kaplan Strategies, said in a statement.
While this marked good news for the 37-year-old ‘anti-wake’ businessman, it proved that there was trouble in DeSantisland.
A shock poll released Thursday shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (left), considered the biggest GOP primary threat to former President Donald Trump, tied with political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy (right).
THE BATTLE FOR SECOND: A poll released Thursday shows that political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy is as popular with Republican primary voters as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, proving there is trouble in DeSantisland.
Over the weekend, DeSantis fired about a dozen campaign staffers, NBC News reported.
Morale is ‘downright low,’ a source who was present when the aides were removed told the network.
‘The whole campaign is on the brink,’ the source said. ‘I’ve never seen anything like it.’
Despite the campaign being able to raise $20 million in just six weeks, sources said the leaders had hired too many workers and were thus spending too much money to stay in second place.
About 40 percent of the money went toward salaries, NBC reported.
Additionally, a large portion of DeSantis’ donors were maxed out under federal law, meaning they would not be able to support Florida’s governor again this year.
‘They should never have brought so many people. The burn rate was very high. People alerted the campaign manager, but he wouldn’t hear of it,’ a Republican source told the network.
A donor added, ‘Disantis’ stock is not rising. Twenty percent of the people who signed up are not.’
The Florida governor waited until late May to announce his presidential run, giving Trump a more than six-month lead on the 2024 race.
Once he jumped in, DeSantis didn’t make the expected splash — stuck in a distant second place behind the former president.
Part of his problem was that he was identified as awkward on the stumps.
Prior to his announcement, The Daily Beast ran a piece that portrayed DeSantis as reclusive, and someone who sometimes engaged in strange behavior.
The piece’s memorable anecdote was the story of DeSantis eating chocolate pudding from a plastic cup with three fingers on a private plane flying between Tallahassee and Washington, DC.
As part of the reboot, NBC reported Thursday, DeSantis will engage more with voters and give less staged speeches.
Behind DeSantis and Ramaswamy, every other Republican challenger is polling in single digits.
The Kaplan Strategies survey found Sen. Tim Scott and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 5 percent, former Vice President Mike Pence at 4 percent, former U.N. Ambe. Nikki Haley is at 3 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is at 1 percent and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has yet to crack 1 percent.
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