The Former President and January 6 U.S Capitol Attack

How Trump Weaponized His Rhetoric


  • Pham Phuong Uyen Diep Louisiana State University
  • Ngoc Yen My Nguyen Kansas State University



Employing both computational and manual content analysis, the study examined how then-President Donald J. Trump weaponized his rhetoric before the Capitol storm on January 6, 2020. The authors analyzed 19 speeches (N = 19), resulting in 801 paragraphs (N = 801), of Trump from November 7, 2020, to January 6, 2021, collected from the White House and his campaign platforms. Within 19 speeches, the most frequently used words centered around achievements of Trump's administration and alleged election fraud. Eight hundred-one paragraphs further identified Trump's rhetoric style, using the frameworks of weaponized communication and bonding-bridging rhetoric. Over half of the 801 paragraphs contained weaponized communication cues, while 296 paragraphs used bonding tactics. There were indeed differences in the rhetoric employed between the White House speeches and the campaign ones.

Author Biography

  • Ngoc Yen My Nguyen, Kansas State University

    My Nguyen is a second-year master’s student at the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication, Kansas State University. Her research interests include journalism studies, media effects, and social media studies, with an emphasis on international news agencies and Vietnamese news organizations.