Trump's inaction uncovered during committee hearings

Trump Spurned Aides’ Pleas to Quell 6 January Riot, Panel Told

Trump Spurned Aides’ Pleas to Quell 6 January Riot, Panel Told
Former President Donald J. Trump appears on a video screen as Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies during a public hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 28 June 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Eric Lee)

Former President Donald Trump ignored pleas from his advisers and took no action for hours to quell the violent mob storming the Capitol because he wanted them to stop or delay certification of the 2020 election results, members of the panel investigating the insurrection said.

By Mike Dorning and Billy House

“President Trump did not fail to act,” Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, a member of the 6 January committee, said. “He chose not to act.”The committee’s prime-time hearing Thursday drew on testimony from senior aides who were in the White House with Trump during the attack describing repeated, fruitless attempts to persuade him to publicly urge his followers to leave the Capitol.It is the ninth public hearing by the committee, but Republican Liz Cheney, the vice chair, said it won’t be the last. The panel is continuing to gather evidence and hear from witnesses, which will lead to additional public hearings in September.

“Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break,” Cheney said. “We have far more evidence to share with the American people, and more to gather.”

The committee said that in numerous interviews with senior law enforcement and military leaders, Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, and D.C. government officials, none heard from Trump during the attack on the Capitol. Instead, he spent the time watching television and calling Republican senators to press them to stop or delay the electoral count, he said.

Trump did nothing publicly for 187 minutes, and there is evidence Trump didn’t want a record of what he was doing during the assault on the Capitol. The White House photographer was discouraged from taking photographs of Trump, and both the presidential call log and his activity log are largely devoid of any entries for the afternoon of Jan. 6.

‘Armed, Violent and Angry’

“For 187 minutes on January 6, this man of unbridled destructive energy could not be moved,” committee Chair Bennie Thompson said. “There can be no doubt he commanded a mob, a mob he knew was heavily armed, violent and angry to march on the Capitol to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power.”

Witnesses provided vivid testimony about the chaos and fear that engulfed the Capitol as Trump’s supporters stormed the building. Within minutes of the mob’s breach of the building, the situation inside became so desperate that members of Pence’s Secret Service were making calls to their families to say goodbye, an anonymous security official testified.

“The members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives,” the official said in recorded testimony.

On Secret Service radio traffic the panel played, agents spoke of smoke in the Capitol hallways and concerns they were within minutes of being overrun and losing control of the stairwell they used to evacuate Pence from the Senate chamber area.

In the midst of that, Trump posted his tweet berating Pence for not having the “courage” to overturn the election results.

Matt Pottinger, a deputy national security adviser to Trump, said he decided to resign his post when he saw Trump’s Pence tweet.

“I didn’t want to be associated with the events that were unfolding at the Capitol,” Pottinger told the committee.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said he began urging Trump to say something “almost immediately after I found out people were getting into the Capitol… in a way that was violent.”

White House aides including chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump joined him in urging Trump to act early on, Cipollone said.

He said he “can’t think of anybody” who worked in the White House who didn’t want the riot to stop. When asked specifically if Trump wanted the riot to stop, Cipollone hesitated and looked at his lawyer, before declining to respond, citing executive privilege

Two veterans, Kinzinger of Illinois, who flew Air Force missions in Iraq, and Democratic Representative Elaine Luria of Virginia, a retired Navy commander, led the questioning. They cast Trump’s inaction during the assault against the president’s role as commander-in-chief, describing Trump’s conduct as a “dereliction of duty.”

“Why did he not take immediate action in a time of crisis? Because President Trump’s plan on January 6 was to halt or delay congress’s official proceeding to count the votes,” Kinzinger said. “The mob was accomplishing President Trump’s purpose, so of course he didn’t intervene.”

Read More: DHS Watchdog Takes on Probe of Lost Jan. 6 Secret Service Texts

As the panel was preparing for the hearing, new controversy erupted over a potentially critical source evidence of Trump’s activity.

The Homeland Security Department’s watchdog opened a criminal investigation into the loss of Secret Service text messages from the days surrounding the attack. The House panel also has subpoenaed the texts.

The department’s inspector general had asked the Secret Service to preserve the text messages when it opened an investigation shortly after the assault. The Secret Service said the data was lost when it reset its mobile phone to factory settings in January 2021.


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