On Thursday, impeachment foes converged on Washington for the first big pro-Trump rally in the city since shortly after Donald Trump was elected president. According to its website, the “March for Trump: Stop Impeachment Now!” event was initiated by people who “want our President to know he is not alone and we stand with him.”
Judging by the crowd size—only a few hundred protesters were there—not all that many people seemed willing to take the day off to stand with Trump against impeachment. But that might have been as much a function of last minute transportation snafus as the country’s support for the president. Nonetheless, the true believers marched down Pennsylvania Avenue for a rally on the Capitol lawn. They had come from as far away as Arkansas, Florida, and Connecticut to participate. Armed with plenty of Trump 2020 banners and “Stop the Coup” signs, they chanted “Drain the swamp!” as they walked.
The marchers finally assembled on the west lawn of the Capitol where they’d been promised speeches from members of Congress. But the lawmakers were slow to materialize, so the audience had to make do with former Navy Seal Jonathan Gilliam, author of the personal safety book Sheep No More and an occasional Fox News guest, and Jack Posobiec, an internet troll and One America News host who helped spread the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
Posobiec spent some of his allotted time consoling the marchers who may have lost friends because of their Trump support. “I’m sure everyone in this crowd who’s wearing one of these MAGA hats, are wearing a Trump hat, has got someone in their lives, someone in their family, that’s just so nasty to them because of who you support in politics,” he said, lamenting that people just can’t get along the way Roseanne and her liberal sister do on the sitcom.
Eventually, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.), and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia) showed up to rail against their Democratic colleagues investigating Trump and rally the crowd to stand tall with the president. Collins told the crowd that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was trying to “overthrow the votes” of Trump supporters with the impeachment inquiry, while Scalise branded the proceedings a “kangaroo court.”
If the event had the feel of a reconstituted tea party rally, it might be because the march was sponsored by Women for American First, a nonprofit 501(c)4 organization headed up by former tea party activist Amy Kremer. That grassroots conservative movement emerged in 2009 after the election of Barack Obama to oppose his administration and some of its signature policies, such as the Affordable Care Act. The movement helped elect some of the most extreme members of Congress—remember Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.)?—and forced out moderate Republicans including former House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).