Jan. 6 takeaways: “Screaming” and a never-sent Trump tweet
WASHINGTON (AP) — A tweet from the president that some saw as a “call to arms.” A “way out of joint” meeting at the White House. Violent extremists plot to storm the Capitol as President Donald Trump spread lies about voter fraud.
At its seventh hearing, the Jan. 6 panel of the House of Representatives presented more evidence on Tuesday that Trump has been repeatedly told that his cheating allegations are false – but he continues to push them anyway. At the same time, he reached out to as wide an audience as possible on Twitter, calling his sometimes violent supporters to Washington on January 6, 2021, not just to protest but to be “wild” as Congress certified President Joe Biden’s victory.
“A CALL TO ACTION… A CALL TO ARMORS”
A focus of the hearing was Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet about a “major protest” at the upcoming joint session of Congress: “Be there, will be wild!”
Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democratic member of the panel, said the tweet “serves as a call to action and, in some cases, a call to arms.” She said the president “demanded support” when he argued that Vice President Mike Pence and other Republicans did not have the guts to try to block Biden’s certification while he chaired the joint session.
The tweet “electrified and electrified” Trump’s supporters, said Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, another member of the Democratic committee, particularly “the dangerous extremists of the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and other far-right racist and white nationalist groups who are out for a fight.” are. ”
The committee showed a montage of videos and social media posts following the tweet as supporters responded, planning trips to Washington, some of which used violent rhetoric and talked about killing cops.
MEET A “CRAZY” WOMAN
The committee stitched together video clips from interviews to describe, in near minute detail, a chaotic meeting on Dec. 18 in the hours before Trump’s tweet.
Former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified live before the panel two weeks ago, called the meeting between White House advisers and informal advisers who “unhinged” the allegations of fraud in a text to another Trump adviser that evening. Other aides described “screams” and profanity at the meeting, as advisers floated wild theories of voter fraud without evidence and White House attorneys aggressively pushed back.
The video clips contained testimonies from attorney Sidney Powell, who had come up with some of the wildest theoriesincluding breached voting machines and hacked thermostats, which she somehow linked to the false claims of fraud.
White House Counsel Eric Herschmann, one of the aides who pushed back, said the theories were “insane” and “it got to the point where the screaming was completely, completely out there.”
The aides described a chaotic six-hour back-and-forth beginning with Trump speaking to a group of informal advisers in the absence of White House aides. Both Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel, and Powell said in interviews that Cipollone rushed in to disrupt the gathering. Powell sarcastically said she thought Cipollone set a new “ground speed record” to get there.
Cipollone, who sat down with the committee for a private interview Last week, after a subpoena, he said he didn’t think the group was giving Trump good advice, saying he and the other White House attorneys kept asking them, “Where’s the evidence?” But they didn’t get good answers , he said.
Hours later at 1:42 a.m., Trump sent the tweet urging supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6.
A RIOTER AND A FORMER OATH GUARDIAN
Two witnesses were in the hearing room as witnesses – a rioter who has pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol and a former Oathkeeper who described his experiences with the group.
Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor misdemeanor last month and is due to be sentenced in September, said he was in Washington at Trump’s behest on Jan. 6 and was leaving the Capitol when Trump — after several hours — told them in a tweet to go. “Basically, we just followed what the president said,” Ayres said.
He said his arrest less than a month later “changed my life, not for the better,” and it enraged him that he was hanging on Trump’s every word and that some people still do. Asked by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney if he still thinks the election was stolen, Ayres said, “Not so much now.”
Jason Van Tatenhove, a former ally of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes who left the group years before the riot, said the group was a “violent militia”.
“I think we have to stop cutting up words and just talking about truths, and what it was going to become was an armed revolution,” he said. “I mean, people died that day… That could have been the spark that started another civil war.”
Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers, along with another far-right group, the Proud Boys, have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the most serious cases the Justice Department has brought to date in the Jan. 6 attack.
IN THE WHITE HOUSE
The committee revealed that Trump had been planning for days to march his supporters to the Capitol – and that he would join them.
The panel showed a draft tweet, undated and never sent, which said: “Please arrive early, large crowds are expected. March to the Capitol afterwards. Stop stealing!” And they showed texts and email exchanges between planners and White House aides about a secret plan for the march.
“Just keep it between us, we have a second leg before the Supreme Court,” one of the rally’s organizers, Kylie Kremer, wrote to a Trump confidant after Trump’s rally. “POTUS will have us marching there/to the Capitol.” People will try to “sabotage” it if they find out, she said.
Murphy said the president’s call to march at his rally was “not a spontaneous call to action, but a deliberate strategy decided in advance by the president.”
Hutchinson’s statement last month also focused on Trump’s desire to march with the protesters and his anger at security guards who wouldn’t let him go.
The committee examined Trump’s speech at this morning’s rally and some of his ad libs about Vice President Mike Pence that were not included in the speech’s original drafts. He ended up mentioning the vice president eight times, telling the crowd he hoped Pence would “do the right thing” and try to block Biden’s certification at the joint session of Congress.
Ignored advice and regrets from staff
As they have done at several hearings, the committee’s lawmakers showed video testimonies of White House advisers who said they did not believe there was widespread fraud in the election and had reported it to the president. Several advisers said they firmly believed Biden’s victory was a done deal after states certified voters on Dec. 14 and dozens of Trump’s campaign lawsuits failed in court.
Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter, said it was her opinion the election was over after December 14 and “probably before that.” Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she had plans for a post-White House life at the time. Trump Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said he told the president in a call it was time to say Biden had won.
And then there was regret. In an exchange of texts revealed by the panel, former Trump campaign aide Brad Parscale wrote to assistant Katrina Pierson: “This week I feel guilty for helping him win” and “If I were Trump and I knew that my rhetoric killed someone.”
“It wasn’t the rhetoric,” Pierson replied.
“Katrina,” wrote Parscale, who still attends a weekly strategy call with Trump aides. “Yes, it was.”
At the end of the hearing, Cheney revealed some new information: Trump attempted to call a prospective witness and the committee alerted the Justice Department to the call.
According to Cheney, the witness did not answer the call. She did not identify the witness but said it was someone the public had not heard from.
The committee has previously said that people close to Trump have contacted witnesses in a way that could reflect, or at least create the appearance of, undue influence.
Associated Press writers Alanna Durkin Richer, Michael Kunzelman, Jill Colvin, Amanda Seitz, and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.
For full coverage of the January 6 hearings, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege.