Trump has galvanized a nationwide extremist movement, experts warn
By Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet and Razzan Nakhlawi
President Trump’s incitement of his supporters before their attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 has galvanized a nationwide extremist movement and fueled those determined to disrupt the transfer of power to President-elect Biden and violently challenge the legitimacy of the election for months — and possibly years, according to U.S. officials and independent experts.
At the center of the amorphous but increasingly motivated extremist movement sits the current president, now twice impeached, deprived of his social media megaphones but still exerting a powerful influence over his followers who take his baseless claims of election fraud as an article of faith.
It remains unclear when and where groups might launch follow-up attacks, but even if they do pull back in the days to come — and experts say there is some reason to think they might — the threat from Trump-inspired extremism is likely to remain and grow.
“It has begun to shift from ‘We are going to win this’ to ‘This fight is going to be a long one,’ ” said Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist groups and their use of social media to inspire and organize adherents. “The prevalent consensus across the movements involved in or supporting the Capitol siege is that they will keep pushing forward.”