Donald Trump watched Capitol riots on TV in White House dining room instead of intervening, investigation finds | American News

Donald Trump watched the Capitol riots on television in his dining room and did not take “immediate action in a time of crisis”, according to an inquest.

During the eighth hearing of the The January 6 riotsthe committee was told the former president was aiming to stop or delay congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election victory by not intervening.

Thousands of his supporters stormed Congress during last year’s riots, smashing windows, forcing open doors and scaring politicians.

The insurrection left five dead, including a policeman, and more than 100 policemen injured.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney said the only thing helping Mr Trump’s goal was the “angry gun mob” he was “sending to Capitol Hill”.

She added that Mr. Trump chose not to respond to calls from Republican lawmakers to step in and stop the violence for hours after the riots began.

“He refused to do what every American president has to do,” she said.

The committee was told that his daughter Ivanka Trump and former chief of staff Mark Meadows were among those urging him to issue strong condemnation of the events.

His son, Donald Trump Junior, also pleaded for his father to do something, telling Mr Meadows: “He needs to condemn this shit ASAP.

“This one you go on mattresses. They’ll try to fuck his whole legacy on it if it gets worse.”

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Dramatic footage of the Capitol Riots

A duration of 187 minutes

Congressman Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the committee, said Mr Trump “resisted” tweeting that protesters should be peaceful, former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews said. claiming he only agreed to do it after his daughter suggested using the phrase.

Ms Matthews said her tweet “didn’t go far enough” and that Mr Trump “initially didn’t want to include any mention of peace in it”.

Analysis by US correspondent Sally Lockwood

This hearing was an amazing insight into President Trump’s state of mind during these hours of violence on Capitol Hill. What was he doing? This is the question at the heart of this committee’s investigation.

We now know he was watching the riot unfold on television from a West Wing dining room and refused to call out the crowd. The Secret Service radio recordings sound panicked. A White House official described how staffers feared for their lives and called family members to say goodbye.

The committee also revealed the large number of text messages sent to his chief of staff Mark Meadows calling on him to end the violence – from Fox News hosts, fellow Republicans, his son Donald Junior. All his relatives were asking him to do something. He wasn’t listening to anyone.

It took him more than three hours before agreeing to tell the rioters to go home. Testimony from his former deputy press secretary revealed that it was his daughter Ivanka who ultimately convinced the former president to accept conciliatory language.

Then a day later, more evidence to show the president’s continued denial. Excerpts from a video message he recorded on January 7 were shown to the committee. It does not mean “the election is over”.

How likely is it that the evidence presented before this committee could result in Donald Trump facing criminal charges? It is uncertain.

A key question is the question of intent.

Donald Trump never told this crowd to enter the Capitol, he didn’t tell them to bring guns. We have no evidence to that effect. But there may be evidence when hearings resume in September that further ties Donald Trump – or those close to him – to the attack on the US Capitol.

The hearing was intended to show a “minute-by-minute” account of Mr. Trump’s actions during the duration of the attack on the Capitol building – a period of 187 minutes.

Beginning at 1:10 p.m. when Mr. Trump finished his riot-initiating speech, it ended at 4:17 p.m. when he posted his now infamous video on Twitter telling his supporters to “go home in peace. ”.

U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) speaks during a public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill, Washington, United States, July 21, 2022. REUTERS / Sarah Silbiger
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Adam Kinzinger

At 1:25 p.m., just 15 minutes after finishing his speech, Mr. Trump went to the private dining room in the Oval Office, where he remained until about 4 p.m.

MP Elaine Luria explained how he saw the chaos unfold on TV, saying he refused to do anything because of his “selfish desire to stay in power”.

She said witnesses told the committee he was seated in his “usual place” at the head of the table facing the television on the wall, which was showing Fox News.

The audience noted that, despite the calls for action, Mr. Trump instead sent out a number of tweets, including one sharing a link to his speech and another referencing Vice President Mike Pence.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with pharmaceutical leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, March 2, 2020, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence

“Pouring Gasoline on the Fire”

In the tweet, he said Mr. Pence “didn’t have the guts to do what should have been done to protect” the United States.

Footage shown at the hearing showed much anger was focused on Mr Pence, with protesters chanting for him to be hanged, calling him a traitor and saying he had ‘targeted’ the American people.

Shortly after the tweet was sent, the committee said the incident had escalated, but Mr. Trump continued to make calls to delay Mr. Biden’s certification to Congress as president.

Ms Matthews described the tweet as “pouring gasoline on the fire”.

Former US President Donald Trump's Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews attends a public hearing of the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, on Capitol Hill , in Washington, U.S. July 21, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyne Hockstein
Image:
Sarah Matthews

In the Secret Service radio traffic broadcast to the committee, officers can be heard expressing concern about the possibility of getting Mr Pence safely out of the building.

Read more:
‘I am President effing’: White House aide describes Trump’s anger
Amazing testimonials can help the committee resonate with the public

Trump pressured officials to ‘say the election was corrupt’

“Start kicking in the windows of the Capitol. The VP is removed. Decision in the next 2-3 minutes or… VP may be blocked at the Capitol,” the security logs say.

“If we waste more time, we could lose the ability to leave,” an agent said. “If we have to leave, we have to do it now.”

Sharing footage from the White House calls log, the committee said they showed Mr Trump made no calls as the violence ensued.

Pro-Trump protesters clash with Capitol police during a rally to challenge the US Congress' certification of the 2020 US presidential election results, at the US Capitol in Washington, US, January 6 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Release of Trump’s video message revealed

It was not until shortly after 4 p.m., more than three hours after the siege began, that Mr Trump recorded his video message from the White House Rose Garden.

The committee learned that a script had been written for him to read, but decided to “hurry up” instead.

An excerpt from his message, played at the hearing, showed that Mr. Trump meant to assert that the majority of supporters were acting “peacefully” on Capitol Hill.

“I urge all of my supporters to do exactly what 99.9% of them have already done – peacefully express their passions and opinions,” he said.

In another clip, showing an excerpt from a recorded message the next day, the former president still refused to say that “the election is over”, simply asking to say that Congress had certified the result instead.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Kinzinger described Mr. Trump’s conduct as a “supreme violation of his oath of office” and a “dishonor” to American democracy.

“It’s a stain on our history,” he added.

The hearing could be the last this summer, with another round due in September.

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