“For nearly three hours, according to the committee, Trump watched Fox News as it broadcast live images of the Capitol being breached and the mob attacking law enforcement officers. That matched previous press reports about Trump’s activities at the time.
The committee shared testimony from numerous White House officials reinforcing the fact that Trump did nothing to reach out to law enforcement or military officials during this time. They also provided evidence that, during this period, Trump called Rudy Giuliani, and he called senators to lobby them to support his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
White House staff, including Matthews and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, were beseeching Trump to communicate something to quell the violence as it began to unfold near the Capitol. Trump, also aware of the violence, instead tweeted disparagingly about Vice President Mike Pence.
“The tweet looked to me like the opposite of what we needed at that moment, which was a de-escalation,” Pottinger said. “It looked like fuel being poured on the fire. That is the moment I decided I would resign.”
“I see the impact that his words have on his supporters,” said Matthews, who had previously worked on Trump’s 2020 election campaign. “They latch onto every tweet and word that he says. For him to tweet out that message about Mike Pence, it was him pouring gasoline on the fire and making it much worse.””
“On the eve of former President Donald Trump’s infamous tweet calling for his supporters to show up in Washington on January 6, the West Wing was “unhinged.”
As shown by the select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, the December 19 tweet followed an Oval Office meeting where insults, personal attacks, and even challenges to fistfights were exchanged among participants, as a group of outside advisers to Trump tried to persuade him to issue an executive order to seize voting machines and name lawyer Sidney Powell as a special counsel to investigate fraud in the election.
In a text message provided to the committee, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who was also in the West Wing at that time, described the meeting to another White House aide. “The west wing is UNHINGED,” she wrote.
Even that fails to describe the fiery nature of the showdown between attorneys from the White House counsel’s office and the likes of Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne. Giuliani testified that he called Trump’s White House lawyers “a bunch of pussies” for not zealously backing Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.”
“In one fell swoop, former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson transformed the story of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Hutchinson, who was a top deputy to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, revealed a series of stunning details about the events of the Capitol riot during her testimony to the January 6 committee. Hutchinson’s testimony suggests that the president knew in advance that violence was a possibility that day, and may very well have approved of it. He instructed his supporters to go to the Capitol, knowing that they were armed, and planned to join them personally once they arrived. After he was prevented from going personally, he told top aides that his vice president deserved the “hang Mike Pence” chants and that the rioters weren’t doing anything wrong.”
“Hutchinson is not the first committee source to describe Trump as approving the idea of Pence’s execution. But hearing more confirmation, together with testimony that he believed that the crowd assaulting police officers and ransacking the Capitol was doing nothing wrong, paints an even clearer picture of a president who not only condoned the violence, but actively approved of it.
Put together and, assuming the details are true, we now have good reason to believe that the violence of the day was not accidental but intentional: that Trump wanted a violent mob to attack the Capitol on his behalf, to use force to disrupt Congress’s certification of the election results and thus give him a chance at illegally holding on to the presidency.
It appears, in short, to be a kind of attempted regime change: a coup that we would have no problem describing as such in any other country but our own.”
“Nearly every component of Trump’s plan revolved around then-Vice President Mike Pence succumbing to pressure. In Trump’s view, Pence — who presided over the counting of state electors on Jan. 6, 2021 — could single-handedly reject Biden’s electors or postpone the count altogether and let GOP state legislatures approve pro-Trump electors instead.
Pence, relying on the advice of his counsel Greg Jacob, balked at Trump’s strategy. Jacob and other White House lawyers repeatedly told Trump the scheme was illegal.
Even that could’ve gone differently. Jacob has also made clear that there was one scenario in which Pence might have been obligated to flip the outcome: if any state legislatures had actually pulled the trigger and adopted Trump electors. In that scenario — where a state legislature and governor have certified competing slates, with one saying Biden won and the other declaring the state for Trump — Jacob said it would be reasonable to defer to the text of the Constitution, which gives state legislatures the ultimate power to choose electors.
“A reasonable argument might further be made that when resolving a dispute between competing electoral slates … the Constitution places a firm thumb on the scale on the side of the State legislature,” Jacob wrote.
That’s why John Eastman, an attorney who designed much of Trump’s plans to stay in power, spent the final hours before the riot on Jan. 6 pushing Pence to delay — contending that Pennsylvania’s legislature appeared on the verge of reconvening to appoint Trump electors. Had Pence or Jacob agreed to a delay — particularly as the Capitol recovered — Trump, Eastman and lawyer Rudy Giuliani intended to use the time to bring legislatures back into season.”
“The carnage was impossible to deny. As the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol laid out its evidence that former President Donald Trump was the catalyst of the assault on American democracy, a 12-minute video showed the full consequences of Trump’s willful lie that the election was stolen. It was perhaps the committee’s most compelling argument.
The video — which included images recorded by participants in the attack, security footage, news footage, audio recordings from police radio communication and police body-camera recordings — tracked the evolution of the violence on that day, from an agitated crowd gathering at the outskirts of the Capitol, through the bloody, forceful invasion of the building. Much of the footage was raw and played at length; the violence was visceral. In one clip, a first-person view from a fallen U.S. Capitol Police officer’s body camera, you can see the mob bearing down, beating the officer mercilessly.
You can watch as many clips of Jan. 6 participants calmly strolling through the rotunda as you like, but the footage shared during the hearing make it inarguable that this was no “normal tourist visit,” as GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde claimed four months after the attack.”
“Videos — some previously released, others being aired for the first time — were carefully sprinkled throughout the hearing, punctuating information shared by Cheney and committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson. Even in his opening remarks, Thompson included video to underscore the fact that the 2020 election was not stolen from Trump, signaling how big a role media would play in the hearings to come. Warning that the clip contained “strong language,” Thompson paused his remarks to play a clip from former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr’s testimony to the committee, where Barr said he remembers at least three discussions with the president where “I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.”
Later, clips of testimony from Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, another senior White House adviser, demonstrated that those closest to the former president were aware that his claims of fraud were baseless. Video testimony of defendants charged for their alleged involvement in the attack saying that they were in Washington, D.C., that day because Trump had summoned them underscored the president’s role in inspiring the attack. Footage of Caroline Edwards, a U.S. Capitol Police officer on the front lines that day, being knocked unconscious after the mob plowed past a barricade toward her punctuated her live testimony on how violent Jan. 6 was.”