The riot was Trump’s last hope, and the next day he still refused to say the election was over

When a violent mob overran the Capitol after his Jan. 6 rally, then-President Donald Trump was neither saddened nor troubled, the House Jan. 6 committee showed in a public hearing Thursday night.

The attack served as his last, faint hope of retaining power by delaying confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory, the committee argued. And Trump didn’t want the uproar to be crushed too quickly when Congress met to count the votes.

So Trump watched the melee unfold on Fox News in his private dining room next to the Oval Office. Aide came in and begged him to make a statement condemning the violence and urging the rioters to go home. Instead, he watched more TV. He called a senator to delay the counting of presidential votes; he called his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani. But he did not call in the Pentagon, deploy the National Guard, or mobilize any of the law enforcement agencies needed to put down the insurgency and facilitate the transfer of power central to a functioning democracy.

This is not an accident or a fit of indecisiveness on Trump’s part, committee members said. It was part of a conscious plan.

“Rather than uphold his duty to the Constitution, President Trump allowed the mob to achieve the delay he hoped would keep him in power,” said Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., a committee member.

The committee’s prime-time hearing focused on the 187 minutes between the end of Trump’s speech in the Ellipse at 1:10 p.m. and the 4:17 p.m. moment when he sent out a video telling his supporters that he loved and asked her to go home. It was one of the most revealing of the eight sessions held to date, with harrowing tone from Secret Service agents scrambling to escort then-Vice President Mike Pence to safety as the mob closed in.

The committee broadcast excerpts from a Trump speech the following day and showed that he refused to say clearly that the election was over. He insisted on removing the line from his remarks.

With more evidence coming in every day, the committee plans to hold additional hearings in September.

Here are some key takeaways from Thursday night:

Trump had ways to call off the attack if he wanted to.

A new witness testifying before the committee this week described a conversation between two White House attorneys, Pat Cipollone and Eric Herschmann, in connection with a call arranged with the Pentagon to stop the attack. Cipollone finally took the call because, as Herschmann described it, “the President doesn’t do it want everything done.”

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has not heard from Trump about the uprising; he spoke to Pence instead.

The panel played audio from his interview with Milley, who said of Trump: “You know, you’re the commander in chief. An attack is taking place in the United States Capitol. And there is nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?”

According to witnesses, within minutes of completing his speech and returning to the White House that day, Trump learned that the Capitol was under siege. He could have taken the short walk from the dining room to the White House press conference room at any time and made a public statement urging his supporters to leave the building. He didn’t.

Trump’s supporters hung on his every word

Trump wields an emotional hold on his base that is unique in presidential politics. When he speaks, his constituents listen. It’s one of the reasons his aides wanted him to quickly issue a statement denouncing the violence and urging the rioters to back off.

“I’ve worked on the campaign, I’ve traveled the country and attended countless rallies with him,” said Sarah Matthews, a former Trump White House press secretary and one of two witnesses who appeared live Thursday. “I see the impact his words are having on his supporters. They memorize every tweet and every word he says.”

Rather than use his considerable influence to end the uprising at an earlier date, Trump ignited the matter by sending out a tweet at 2:24 p.m. saying Pence lacked the “courage to do what should have.” should be done,” witnesses told the committee.

At a time when Pence’s life was in danger, this tweet “potentially gave the green light to these people,” Matthews added. “To tell them that what they were doing by entering the Capitol was fine and that they were justified in their anger. He shouldn’t have done that. He should have told people to go home and condemned the violence we saw.”

To demonstrate how its supporters hung on every word, the panel played radio transmissions from Oath Keepers – some of whom were in the Capitol – discussing Trump’s 2:38 p.m. tweet telling them they should die Don’t attack the police.


“Trump just tweeted, ‘Please support our Capitol Police. You are on our side. Do them no harm,’” an Oathkeeper told the group.

“That says a lot that he didn’t say: He didn’t say not to harm the congressmen,” replied another Oath Keeper.

Committee singles out Hawley and McCarthy, shows they feared the rioters

One of the most iconic images from Jan. 6 shows Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., raising his fist in the air in solidarity with Trump supporters who gathered outside the Capitol before the riots began.

A Capitol Police officer who witnessed Hawley told the committee that the senator’s gesture “excited the crowd,” Luria said.

“And it bothered them a lot because he was doing it in a safe space, protected by the officers and the barriers.”

Later that afternoon, Luria said, Hawley was one of the senators running from the same rioters as they breached the Capitol and then the Senate chamber itself.

“Senator Hawley fled after protesters he had upset stormed the Capitol,” the congresswoman said.

As the committee played surveillance video of Hawley walking through the Senate chambers to safety, the hearing room erupted in laughter. Hawley, a Trump ally, is often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2024.


“Think about what we saw,” Luria said. “Undeniable violence in the Capitol. The Vice President is escorted to safety by the Secret Service. Senators running through the Senate corridors to escape the mob.”

Later in the hearing, the committee played a video montage of witnesses testifying that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, one of Trump’s staunchest allies on the Hill, was also frightened by the violent rioters who smashed the windows in his office and had driven his employees to flee . He called Trump, then-First Lady Melania Trump, Pence and his top aide, and others, trying to get the President to call off the mob.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, also received calls from McCarthy. Kushner was in the shower, he said in testimony played Thursday, but had gotten close to McCarthy, so he responded.

“He told me it was getting really ugly over in the Capitol and said, ‘Please know, anything you could do to help, I would appreciate it,'” Kushner recalled of the committee. “I had a feeling that…they were scared.”

“‘You’ mean leader McCarthy and the people on the hill because of the violence?” someone on the committee asked.

“That he was scared, yes,” Kushner said of McCarthy.

Trump campaign officials slammed their boss for failing to acknowledge the death of an officer

Capitol and DC Metro police officers who fought rioters that day attended every single hearing on Jan. 6. They are still waiting for Trump to pay tribute to their fallen comrades.

To date, Trump has not acknowledged the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, who died a day after the riots after suffering two strokes, or the officers who took their own lives after that horrific day.

That point was not lost on two of Trump’s top 2020 campaign workers who texted each other Jan. 7 after Sicknick’s death.

“Also sucks not even taking notice of the death of the Capitol Police Officer,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh texted his deputy Matt Wolking.

“This makes me angry,” Wolking replied. “Everything he said about assisting law enforcement was a lie.”

Murtaugh explained Trump’s silence: If he talks about the deceased officer, he could mislead himself.

“If he admitted to the dead cop, he would be implicitly blaming the mafia. And he won’t do that because they are his people. And he would also be close to admitting that what he lit at the rally is out of control,” Murtaugh wrote. “By no means is he acknowledging anything that could ultimately be called his fault. No way.”

“I don’t want to say the election is over”: On Jan. 7, Trump still refused to admit defeat

The committee played footage of a videotaped address Trump delivered from the White House on Jan. 7 denouncing the attack. It was a tough speech for him, as the outtakes showed. Once he read a line that read: “This election is now over.” He stopped and said to his advisers: “I don’t want to say that the election is over. I just want to say, ‘Congress approved the results without saying the election is over, okay?’”

After the footage was shown, Luria said, “One day after inciting a riot based on a lie, President Trump still couldn’t say the election was over.”

It took some convincing to get Trump to ask the rioters to be “peaceful.”

After Trump released his tweet suggesting Pence was a coward, Matthews spoke to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and told her Trump needed to condemn the violence and tell the rioters to leave.

McEnany agreed and went into the dining room to see Trump, who posted a tweet at 2:38 p.m. that said, “Keep peaceful!” McEnany then returned, lowering her voice and telling Matthews that the president made no mention of “peace” wanted to include in the tweet. His advisors suggested a different wording, and Ivanka eventually persuaded him to use the phrase “keep peaceful.” The riot was Trump’s last hope, and the next day he still refused to say the election was over

Fry Electronics Team

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