Using visceral video footage of the attack, text messages, White House call logs and other records obtained by the committee, the events of the January 6 moment were deftly revealed by Representatives Elaine Lurie and Adam Kinzinger.
The evidence showed how Trump did not contact any law enforcement or national security agencies at the time of the attack, but instead spent that afternoon in the White House dining room watching a melee game on Fox News.
But he was not completely inactive.
He used the time to tweet and make phone calls — mostly not to official White House phones — to Republican senators he believed would help him end vote certifications during the joint session. He also made two calls to his attorney and the manager of his storied electoral contest, Rudy Giuliani.
Trump had already spent January 6 tweeting furiously about so-called election fraud from 1 to 11 a.m. Then he went to the Ellipse and, despite all the best advice and guidance he’d been given for weeks by his lawyers, members of the national intelligence apparatus and Department of Justice on the results of the 2020 election, he persistently spread the lie that the results were rigged.
He then encouraged the large crowd of thousands to “march” to the Capitol and promised to join them.
Investigators showed how thousands of people who gathered in D.C. after Trump’s earlier call for what he called a “big protest” hung on his every word. When he insulted then-Vice President Mike Pence in his speech from the Ellipse, they gathered, cheered and called for Pence to be hanged.
The breach had already begun as Trump spoke, and it would only get worse in the coming hours.
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s previous testimony to the committee claimed the 45th president was furious when his security detail told him he would not be taken to the Capitol afterward. his speech was confirmed by Sergeant Mark Robinson of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Robinson, who was assigned to Trump’s motorcade on January 6 and directed its operations that day, testified: “The only description I got was that the president was upset and that he was adamant about going to the Capitol and that there was heated debate.
Committee Chairman Benny Thompson summed up the former president succinctly when he gave opening remarks at the hearing.
He said Trump was “a man of unbridled destructive energy [that] He could not be moved by his aides or allies, nor by the violent chants of the rebels, nor by the desperate pleas of those who were turning against the rebels.
When Trump finally sent a tweet at 2:24 p.m. on Jan. 6 attacking Pence for lacking the “courage” to stop the count, Washington police had already called a riot, records show. In fact, Trump had tweeted just moments after announcing the riots.
message? A retweet of his inflammatory, disinformation-filled speech from Ellipse.
Trump watched the siege live, Kinzinger said.
This was corroborated by testimony from former White House press secretary Kaylee McEnany and several others, including Trump’s executive assistant Molly Michaels and his attorney Pat Cipollone.
The horror of Trump’s neglect was also underscored by testimony from White House security officials protecting Pence on Jan. 6, who described a frantic period amid the siege when they feared getting the vice president out of the Capitol would be impossible. Smoke filled the hall, there were insurgents on both floors.
Agents could be heard frantically planning their maneuvers in Secret Service radio traffic broadcast for the first time Thursday night.
“If we lose more time, we may lose the ability to leave. So if we’re going to leave, we have to do it now,” one agent said.
The desperation of Pence’s Secret Service detail was palpable. The National Security Council monitored the unrest in real time. One entry from the council journal that day noted: “[Secret] Service at the Capitol doesn’t sound good right now.
Things were not “good” because the situation was changing and fast.
“It was upsetting, I don’t like to talk about it. But there were calls to say goodbye to family members and things like that,” an unidentified White House security official testified in a taped closed-door deposition.
“There were discussions about reinforcements, but it was just chaos,” the witness added.
The person’s identity was not released for their protection.
“If they run out of options and get nervous, it looks like we’re very close to the service having to resort to lethal options, or worse. At that point I don’t know. is VP compromised? Are parts at risk? We didn’t—I don’t know. But if they shout and say, for example, “say goodbye to the family”, then the group must know that it is about to enter a whole other level. the agent said.
Among the living witnesses who testified Thursday were Trump’s former deputy national security adviser, Matthew Pottinger, and former deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews. Both resigned on January 6. Pottinger said it was Trump’s tweet attacking Pence that prompted his resignation. Matthews told the committee that she understands, as a member of Trump’s press team, there will likely come a time when she will be forced to defend the president’s words and actions. She couldn’t, so she resigned, she said.
There was much shock and dismay at Trump’s failure to quell the riots. Perhaps most telling was the disbelief of General Mark Millay, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Milley reflected on Trump in the recorded audio: “You’re Commander in Chief – you have an attack on the United States Capitol and nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?”
It was only a 60-second walk between the White House dining room and the White House press room, Matthews testified.
The president could have delivered the national address at any time he chose. But he chose not to.
Thursday’s hearing was technically the select committee’s ninth public presentation. The very first meeting was convened in July 2021, when officers from the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department shared their experiences with the nation for the first time.
The probe has come a long way since then, but the work is far from over. Chairman Thompson said the committee will hold another hearing in September, and members are expected to review the details of the committee’s interim report.
A final report will be prepared and is expected by November.
Kinzinger said the report would recommend legislative changes to protect the country from another January 6.
Trump’s reaction to the wiretapping was poor. He went on a rampage through his social media platform, Truth Social, attacking the character of the committee members, the findings of the investigation and, still, the results of the 2020 election.
Even Trump’s foot soldiers in the House GOP got in on the act, attacking Matthews while she was testifying.
“Just another liar and pawn in Pelosi’s witch hunt,” a tweet from the House Republican Conference account said.
Matthews is currently the Republican Party’s director of member communications House Committee on Climate Crisis. A House GOP spokesman later issued a statement blaming the tweet on a “staff-level” staffer. The tweet was not authorized, nor was it “a position of the conference,” the spokesman said.
While much of what was actually said during the hearing was disturbing enough, interestingly, it was something left unsaid that spoke volumes.
In his taped statement to the committee, Trump attorney Pat Cipollone raised questions about whether any White House staff wanted the rebels to go home on Jan. 6.
“What would you put in this category?” Cheney asked.
Cipollone rattled off a list from memory that included Trump lawyer Pat Philbin, White House counsel Eric Hershman. He added that Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, “generally” wanted it.
He acknowledged that the list, which may be missing some names, also included Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, her husband and Trump adviser Jared Kushner, national security adviser Keith Kellogg, White House press secretary Kaylee McEnany and Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino . .
And who on staff didn’t want people to leave the Capitol? Cheney asked again.
“About the staff?” Cipollone repeated.
At the White House, Cheney said.
“I can’t think of anyone that day who didn’t want people out of the Capitol, especially after the violence started. I mean…” he said, shaking his head before trailing off.
– What about the president? asked committee member and representative Adam Schiff.
“She said ‘staff,’ so I answered,” Cipollone replied.
Cheney repeated that she was asking if anyone The White House wanted the rebels to go home.
Cipollone apologized and said she meant “who else on staff”.
His hands crossed and his lips pursed, Cipollone turned to his attorney, who was sitting next to him, for a private deposition.
“I can’t disclose the communication,” Cipollone said, citing executive privilege between her and Trump.
“But obviously I mean, you know . . .” he said without finishing the sentence.
Instead he turned to his advisor and the men silently searched each other’s faces. There was no advice. Cipollone did not respond to the question. So he went back to Cheney and ended his testimony.