Trump treated my family like disposable pawns and tore us apart, says daughter of convicted Jan. 6 rioter
For 18-year-old Peyton Reffitt, what started as arguments around the dinner table ended with his family falling apart and his father receiving the longest prison sentence to date for his involvement in the Capitol riot inspired by Trump.
American family life in the age of Trump has taken on a toxic dimension, the young woman from Texas has said.
Peyton said the disintegration of her family began with angry cries between father and children and ended when her brother, Jackson Reffitt, then 18, reported her father to the FBI.
After the Capitol riot in 2021, Guy Reffitt, 49, returned to Wylie, a Dallas suburb, and told Jackson and Peyton, then 16, that they would be traitors if they denounced him.
But Jackson already hadnotified the FBI in December 2020, after becoming increasingly concerned about his father’s radicalized right-wing rhetoric.
“We are an example of the fragility of the modern American family as the political climate intensifies,” Peyton said in a message to Insider. “There is not enough protection for American families from the effects of propaganda and misinformation.”
The movement focuses on the myth that only 3% of colonists fought in the War of Independence. Members meet as “modern versions of these revolutionaries, fighting against a tyrannical American government rather than against the British”.
Peyton believes her family and others like them have been treated as “disposable pawns” in a power struggle.
“Former President Trump is not entirely responsible for my father’s actions on that day, January 6. However, in my opinion, I believe he used orchestrated language that uses subliminal projection, leading to and the day of, which in a real way bypasses the rational thinking of its followers and appeals to their deepest emotions,” she told Insider in a text.
“I think it would be fair for former President Trump to be convicted and serve the longest sentence for the events that occurred on January 6, 2021,” Peyton said.
A prison sentence for Trump “would be the responsibility to set a real precedent for our future as a nation to protect all American families and democracy itself,” she said.
In recent years, families and friendships have been destroyed by the rise of extremist views, misinformation and conspiracy theories.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted during the first months of the Trump presidency, found that 16% of respondents said they stopped communicating with a friend or family member after the 2016 election.
Jacquelyn Hammond, 47, a bartender in Asheville, North Carolina, who had cut off contact with her Trump-supporting mother, Carol, told Reuters that “Trump is like the catalyst for an earthquake that just split two continents of thought. Once the Earth splits like this, there’s no turning back.”
Even though her father is incarcerated and her brother estranged from the family, Peyton said she sees a light at the end of the tunnel and believes her family can heal, in time.
“As a family, we don’t need to fully understand each other, but appreciating each other’s differences is a beautiful lesson that expands our perceptions without judgement,” she said.