Donald Trump has released a charity single, recorded with a choir of men held in a Washington DC prison for their parts in the deadly January 6 insurrection he incited.
On Friday, Justice for All by Donald J Trump and the J6 Prison Choir was available on streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.
The move is the latest in a growing trend by Trump and others on the far right of US politics to embrace the January 6 attack on the Capitol as a political cause and portray many of those who carried it out as protesters being persecuted by the state.
Forbes, which first reported the song’s production, said a video would debut on a podcast hosted by Steve Bannon, the far-right activist and alleged fraudster who was Trump’s campaign chair and White House strategist.
Over an ambient backing, the song features Trump reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, interspersed with a male voice choir singing The Star-Spangled Banner. The song lasts for about two and a half minutes and ends with a chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” Forbes said it was “produced by a major recording artist who was not identified”.
Robert Maguire, research director for the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said: “I have never been more repulsed by the mere existence of a song than one sung by a president who tried to do a coup and a literal ‘choir’ of insurrectionists who tried to help him.”
Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former US attorney, called the song “a disinformation tactic right out of the authoritarian playbook”.
Trump, she said, was seeking to “wrap lies in patriotism”.
On 6 January 2021, Trump told supporters to “fight like hell” to block certification of Joe Biden’s election win. A mob then attacked the US Capitol, sending lawmakers including Mike Pence, Trump’s vice-president, running for their lives.
The riot only delayed the certification process but it is now linked to nine deaths, including law enforcement suicides.
More than 1,000 people have been charged. Hundreds have been convicted, some with seditious conspiracy, and hundreds remain wanted by the FBI.
Trump was impeached for inciting the insurrection but acquitted when enough Senate Republicans stayed loyal.
The House January 6 committee made four criminal referrals regarding Trump to the Department of Justice, which continues to investigate.
That is just one source of legal jeopardy for Trump, who also faces investigations of his financial affairs, a hush money payment to a porn star, his election subversion and his retention of classified records, as well as a defamation suit from a writer who accuses him of rape, an allegation he denies.
Running for president again, Trump dominates polling regarding the Republican field.
Forbes said Trump’s January 6-themed song was intended to raise money for the families of those imprisoned. It also said the project would not “benefit families of people who assaulted a police officer”.
Citing “a person with knowledge of the project”, Forbes said the choir consisted of about 20 inmates at the Washington DC jail who were recorded over a jailhouse phone. Some such inmates reportedly sing the national anthem each night.
Trump did not comment.
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