Despite desperate pleas from aides, allies, a Republican congressional leader and even his family, Donald Trump refused to call off the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol, instead “pouring gasoline on the fire” by aggressively tweeting his false claims of a stolen election and celebrating his crowd of supporters as “very special,” the House investigating committee showed Thursday night.
The next day, he declared anew, “I don’t want to say the election is over.” That was in a previously unaired outtake of an address to the nation he was to give, shown at the prime-time hearing of the committee.
The panel documented how for some 187 minutes, from the time Trump left a rally stage sending his supporters to the Capitol to the time he ultimately appeared in the Rose Garden video that day, nothing could compel the defeated president to act. Instead, he watched the violence unfold on TV.
“President Trump didn’t fail to act,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a fellow Republican but frequent Trump critic who flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. “He chose not to act.”
After months of work and weeks of hearings, the prime-time session started the way the committee began — laying blame for the deadly attack on Trump himself for summoning the mob to Washington and sending them to Capitol Hill.
The defeated president turned his supporters’ “love of country into a weapon,” said the panel’s Republican vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
Far from finishing its work after Thursday’s hearing, probably the last of the summer, the panel will start up again in September as more witnesses and information emerge. Cheney said “the dam has begun to break” on revealing what happened that fateful day, at the White House as well as in the violence at the Capitol.
“Donald Trump made a purposeful choice to violate his oath of office,” Cheney declared.
“Every American must consider this: Can a president who is willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of Jan. 6 ever be trusted in any position of authority in our great nation?” she asked.
Trump, who is considering another White House run, dismissed the committee as a “Kangaroo court,” and name-called the panel and witnesses for “many lies and misrepresentations.”
Plunging into its second prime-time hearing on the Capitol attack, the committee aimed to show a “minute by minute” accounting of Trump’s actions with new testimony, including from two White House aides, never-before-heard security radio transmissions of Secret Service officers fearing for their lives and behind-the-scenes discussions at the White House.
With the Capitol siege raging, Trump was “giving the green light” to his supporters by tweeting condemnation of Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to go along with his plan to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, a former White House aide told the committee.
Two aides resigned on the spot.
“I thought that Jan. 6 2021, was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history,” Sarah Matthews told the panel. “And President Trump was treating it as a celebratory occasion. So it just further cemented my decision to resign.”
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