Screenshot/Twitter/Donald J. Trump
Impact
Prosecutors have zeroed in on one Trump tweet that sparked the Jan. 6 insurrection

You might think that it’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly former President Donald Trump incited the insurrection attempt on Jan. 6, 2021 — if only because there are so many instances of him questioning the legitimacy of the election and calling upon his supporters to “stop the steal.” But, according to The New York Times, federal prosecutors and congressional investigators are honing in on one tweet in particular that may have served as a call to action for the extremists and far-right militia groups that stormed the Capitol.

The tweet in question was fired off by Trump on Dec. 19, 2020. In it, Trump links to a report from his ally and deeply unserious person Peter Navarro that claims to reveal enough instances of voter fraud during the 2020 election to “swing victory to Trump” — which is not how anything works, but sure. (Navarro would later go on to explain how he and others in Trump’s circle actively planned to overturn the 2020 election.) “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election,” Trump claims, before adding what would ultimately serve as the rallying cry for insurrectionists: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

After the tweet, according to the Times, things really started to ramp up within far-right circles. Extremist groups reportedly started to set up encrypted communications channels to plan for the Jan. 6 protest and, ominously, began acquiring protective gear and weapons. The Capitol police force also traced a spike in the number of threats made against members of Congress to the tweet, presumably from people demanding that the elected officials vote against certifying the election results.

Trump’s “Be there, will be wild!” message has been in the crosshairs of investigators and experts for a while now. A prior report from the Times highlighted the tweet as the moment that Trump effectively circled Jan. 6, 2021, on the calendar for his supporters, and they heeded his call.

You can even see the calls for action from Trump allies ramp up after the Dec. 19 tweet. One day later, disgraced former general Michael Flynn retweeted a message noting Trump supporters were “working every avenue to stop this coup.” North Carolian Rep. Madison Cawthorn told an audience at a Turning Point USA event to “call your congressman and feel free, you can lightly threaten them.”

All of that came to a head on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump went from sowing to reaping. Ultimately, it might be that Dec. 19 tweet that proves to be the catalyst for the insurrection attempt — but there will be no shortage of inflammatory messages from Trump to choose from.