January 6 takeaway: White House in chaos, Trump immovable

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House January 6 Committee closed its series of summer hearings with its most detailed focus yet on the investigation’s primary target: former President Donald Trump.

Thursday’s panel looked at 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 it took the former president to call out the rioters. The panel focused 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 specials” but that 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 attended the hearing remotely in due to 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 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 have to be told” to leave, Cipollone reminded the president, urging Trump to make a public announcement. “Quick.”

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 in the White House, Trump made no effort to request increased assistance from law enforcement on Capitol Hill. 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 hid 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.

“He put a target on his own vice president’s back,” Luria said.

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.

Pottinger and Matthews told the committee of his 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”.

She also described a debate within the press office about whether the violence should be condemned – and her frustration that such a debate was even taking place and that they were debating the politics of a tweet.

Matthews said she pointed to the television. “Do you think we are winning? Because I don’t think it is,” she said.

DESPERATE TEXTS

The committee showed some of the texts that were sent to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, as White House aides tried to get the president to act. Meadows delivered the texts to the panel before ceasing to cooperate.

“That’s the one you go on mattresses,” Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, sent to Meadows. “They’ll try to f— his whole legacy on it if it gets worse.”

“Mark, he has to stop this, now,” emailed Mick Mulvaney, a former Meadows GOP House colleague and former director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“Hey Mark, the President needs to tell the people on Capitol Hill to go home,” Fox News Channel host Laura Ingraham emailed.

FINALLY, A VIDEO MESSAGE

While some of the worst fights on Capitol Hill were still going on and had been going on for hours, Trump released the video at 4:17 p.m.

The committee showed a video of Trump filming the statement and a copy of the script which he ignored. “I ask that you leave the Capitol Hill area NOW and return home peacefully,” the script reads.

But the president didn’t actually say that, instead repeating baseless allegations of voter fraud without condemning the violence. “Then go home. We love you. You are very special,” Trump ended up saying. “I know what you’re feeling.”

In video testimony, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner said he had come to the end of filming and “I think he was basically stepping down for the day.”

The committee showed video of the Capitol headquarters at the exact moment – rioters violently trying to break into the main gates, beating officers who had been fighting for hours. Police radio traffic relayed, “Another officer unconscious.”

THE NEXT DAY

The committee showed never-before-seen excerpts from a speech prepared for Trump on Jan. 7 in which he was supposed to say the election was over. But he bristled at that line, telling a roomful of supporters, “I don’t mean the election is over.

In the takes, Trump was visibly angry – at one point slapping his hand on the podium – as he worked through the prepared remarks, with his daughter Ivanka and others overheard making suggestions.

In the final videoTrump condemns the violence and says, “Congress has certified the results and the new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My goal now is to ensure a smooth, orderly and transparent transition of power.

“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, Jill Colvin, 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.

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