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President Trump's Supporters Insist That They Are Not Going Away

NOEL KING, HOST:

The insurrectionists had been cleared from inside the Capitol last night, but some supporters of President Trump lingered around outside. Police allowed them to stay until night fell, when a curfew went into effect. Here's NPR's Scott Horsley.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Hours after the deadly confrontation inside the Capitol, Trump supporters outside faced a line of police. That didn't discourage John (ph) who, like all the demonstrators we spoke to, refused to give his last name. After all, he'd made the trip from Connecticut to attend this protest at the president's own urging.

JOHN: And I know how it's going to be twisted - OK? - by the media - that he's responsible for what happened, that he provoked it, that he was encouraging violence. The fact of the matter is the president never encouraged violence. We came here on our own accord at his invitation to support him.

HORSLEY: John didn't take part in storming the Capitol, but he was quick to excuse the people who did.

JOHN: When emotions are high the way they obviously were, it was inevitable that that was going to happen.

HORSLEY: This was John's third demonstration in Washington since Trump's defeat in November. He didn't really expect coming to the Capitol would change the tally of electoral votes, but he still felt it was important to show up and make a statement.

JOHN: This is actually a spiritual battle, as far as I'm concerned. It was a battle of good against evil. And I think there couldn't be a more clear example of evil than what we see in that building and in what we see protecting that building.

HORSLEY: Nearby, Kyle (ph) carried a sign that read stop the steal. Kyle, who is from Florida, is convinced many of the votes cast for President-elect Joe Biden were unlawful, a claim that's been repeatedly debunked and rejected by dozens of courts.

KYLE: We simply marched to the Capitol to tell Congress that we wanted legal votes to count and to overturn the fraudulent votes. And we're being surrounded by police.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: They're getting ready to arrest everybody that they corral in that circle.

KYLE: Oh, that's cute. So, yeah, free speech is over.

HORSLEY: As we're talking, a line of police wearing face shields and tactical vests begin to push forward, moving the Trump supporters back. Mike (ph), who's from New Hampshire, says he felt betrayed by law enforcement. When police came under criticism last year, he'd rallied in their support.

MIKE: It's sad what this has come down to because the blue were doing their job, so we stuck up for them and we fought for these guys. But obviously, they don't want to be on our side.

HORSLEY: The Trump supporters eventually disperse under steady pressure from police. Some promise to return with weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Next time, we come back with rifles.

HORSLEY: The grounds outside the Capitol grew quiet as lawmakers inside resumed their work. As Trump supporters filtered away, John from Connecticut insisted they're not leaving for good.

JOHN: There's a total lack of confidence in the political system. And it's not going to end pretty. I've been around a long time. It's not going to end pretty.

HORSLEY: Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.