Donald Trump's rally in Arizona was largely in line with expectations. The former president lied about his election defeat; he needlessly seeded racial resentments with false claims about white people lacking access to vaccines; and the Republican even lent his support to a discredited conspiracy theory about the FBI.
But what stood out for me as especially notable was Trump's concerns about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. From the former president's remarks:
"They never talk about that crowd. They talk about the people that walked down to the Capitol. They don't talk about the size of that crowd. I believe it was the largest crowd I've ever spoken before. And they were there to protest the election.... I think it was the largest crowd I've ever, and the fake news never talks about it. They never talk about it."
One year after the riot, after having time to reflect on the events, Trump has identified what he considers the truly important detail about the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The fatalities? The insurrectionist intent? The alleged crimes? The defilement of our seat of government? The attempts to use violence to reject our system of democracy?
No, what really weighs on the former president is the degree to which "they" fail to acknowledge the size of the crowd that appeared in the nation's capital in advance of the riot.
There's an odd symmetry to the circumstances: On Trump's first full day in office in January 2017, the Republican was preoccupied with the size of his inaugural crowd, to the point that he literally called the National Park Service, asking for photographic evidence that his audience was larger than it appeared.
Five years later, he's now out of office, still fixated on crowd size, which he continues to see as evidence of his self-professed greatness.
Indeed, this guy can't let it go. Last summer, Trump insisted "over a million people" attended his anti-election rally on Jan. 6. Last week, while sitting down with One America News, he was at it again.
"Massive numbers. They don't cover the numbers of people," Trump said of his Jan. 6 audience. "They always show the Capitol with a very small, just a tiny percentage of the people that were there. They never show helicopter pictures of that incredible crowd because it was the largest crowd I've ever spoken before. I've never had a crowd — I've never seen a crowd that big."
He added, "You know what that number was, right? And I don't even talk about that. And they don't talk about it.... "[This was] the biggest crowd I've ever — and I've spoken before the biggest crowds — the biggest crowd I've ever spoken by far. By numerous times, I think."
For good measure, the former president went on to say, "Why don't they show the real crowd that was there on Jan. 6? The crowd of people that was the biggest I've ever seen. I haven't seen any — you can hardly get a picture. We're trying to find pictures. They have censored the pictures. They don't want to show that crowd because that shows what it was all about. They were there over a rigged election."
First, the election wasn't rigged.
Second, the crowd at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 was nowhere near a million people.
Third, there is no nefarious group, identified only as "they," conspiring behind the scenes to hide evidence of his crowd size.
And finally, the events of Jan. 6 were of extraordinary significance. The fact that Trump is obsessed with the size of the crowd, and nothing else, reflects just how twisted his priorities are.
That said, if the former president were eager to share his thoughts on the day, I suspect the House select committee investigating the attack would love to chat with him.