January 6 takeaway: Trump ‘couldn’t be moved’ amid violence

By MARY CLARE JALONICK
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Jan. 6 House committee is wrapping up its series of summer hearings by focusing in more detail on the investigation’s primary target: former President Donald Trump.

The panel examines Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021, as hundreds of his supporters stormed into the US Capitol, taking viewers minute by minute through the deadly afternoon to show how long he has took the former president to call the rioters. . The panel focuses on 187 minutes that day, between the end of Trump’s speech calling on supporters to march to the Capitol at 1:10 p.m. and a video he released at 4:17 p.m. telling rioters they were “very special.” but they had to go home.

Trump was “the only person in the world who could call off the crowd,” but he refused to do so for several hours, said committee chairman Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, who was attending the hearing remotely due to of a COVID-19 diagnosis. “He couldn’t be moved.”

THE WHITE HOUSE DINING ROOM

The panel highlighted where Trump was as the violence unfolded — in a White House dining room, seated at the head of the table, watching the violent Capitol breach on Fox News. He retired to the dining room at 1:25 p.m., according to Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., one of the two members who conducted the hearing. This was after some rioters had already broken through the barriers around the Capitol – and after Trump was notified of the violence within 15 minutes of returning to the White House.

Fox News was showing live footage of rioters pushing police, Luria said, showing snippets of coverage.

In video testimony shown during the hearing, former White House aides spoke of their frantic efforts to get the president to tell his supporters to turn back. Pat Cipollone, Trump’s top White House lawyer, told the panel that several aides — including Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump — advised the president to say something. “People need to be told” to leave, Cipollone recalled, telling people, urging Trump to make a public announcement.

Trump “couldn’t be moved,” Thompson said, “from getting up from his dining room table and walking the few stairs down the White House hallway to the press conference room where the cameras were waiting. anxiously and desperately to deliver his message to the armed and violent crowd savagely beating and killing law enforcement officers.

NO CALL FOR HELP

While seated in the White House, Trump made no effort to request increased assistance from law enforcement on Capitol Hill, the committee said. Witnesses confirmed that Trump did not call the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security or Attorney General.

The committee played audio of General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reacting in surprise to the former president’s reaction to the attack. “You are the commander-in-chief. You have an ongoing assault on the United States Capitol. And there is nothing? No call? Nothing Zero? said Milley.

As Trump refused to call for help, Vice President Mike Pence was hiding in the Capitol, yards from the rioters who were about to enter the Senate Chamber. The committee released audio of an unidentified White House security official who said Pence’s Secret Service agents “began to fear for their own lives” on Capitol Hill and called on members of the family in case they don’t survive.

Shortly after, at 2:24 p.m., Trump tweeted that Pence lacked the “courage” to block or delay election results as Congress certified Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

FORMER WHITE HOUSE HELPS

Matt Pottinger, who was then Trump’s deputy national security adviser, and Sarah Matthews, then deputy press secretary, testified at the hearing. Both resigned from their posts in the White House immediately after the uprising.

Both Pottinger and Matthews told the committee of their disgust at Trump’s tweet about Pence.

Pottinger said he was “disturbed and concerned that the president was attacking Vice President Pence for doing his constitutional duty,” which he said was “the opposite of what we needed at this time- the”.

“That’s when I decided I was going to quit,” Pottinger said.

Matthews said the tweet was “essentially giving him the thumbs up to these people”, and said Trump supporters are “really hanging on to every word and every tweet”.

“WE HAVE A LOT MORE TO DO”

At the start of the hearing, Thompson and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s Republican vice chair, announced that the panel would “meet again” in September to continue presenting its findings.

“The doors opened, new subpoenas were issued, and the dam began to break,” Cheney said of the committee’s investigation. “We have a lot more to do. We have much more evidence to share with the American people and more to gather. »

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Associated Press reporters Eric Tucker, Farnoush Amiri, Kevin Freking, Chris Megerian and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the January 6 committee hearings at https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege.