“In conversations with voters at an early-voting location in Virginia Beach, the economy weighed far more heavily than the attack on the Capitol. While jets from a nearby Naval Air Station roared overhead, those coming and going from casting their ballots didn’t view January 6 as a factor. Mike Malbon told Vox that he had voted for Kiggans. Although he had never voted for Luria, he described himself as a swing voter who had voted for Trump, Obama, and George W. Bush. Malbon said his vote was based on the fact that he was “just not really happy with what the Democrats were doing.” When asked if he’d thought about January 6 while voting, Malbon said, “I’ve thought about it for sure. I probably would never vote for Trump again, I would have otherwise.”
Melinda Salmons, who said she was voting for Kiggans because she thought Luria was in Nancy Pelosi’s pocket, echoed this. When asked about Trump, she told Vox, “Donald Trump doesn’t affect me one way or another. The man is not running. I’m like a lot of people, I like what my pocketbook says. I do not like what he says.””
“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.”