Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Trump watched Jan. 6 US Capitol riot unfold on TV, ignored pleas to call for peace

Trump watched Jan. 6 US Capitol riot unfold on TV, ignored pleas to call for peace

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump sat for hours watching the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol unfold on live TV, ignoring pleas by his children and other close advisers to urge his supporters to stop the violence, witnesses told a congressional hearing on Thursday.

The House of Representatives Select Committee used its eighth hearing this summer to detail what members said was Trump's refusal to act for the 187 minutes between the end of his inflammatory speech at a rally urging supporters to march on the Capitol, and the release of a video telling them to go home.

"President Trump sat at his dining table and watched the attack on television while his senior-most staff, closest advisors and family members begged him to do what is expected of any American president," said Democratic Representative Elaine Luria.

The panel played videotaped testimony from White House aides and security staff discussing the events of the day.

Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone was asked question after question in the recorded testimony about Trump's actions: did he call the secretary of defense? The attorney general? The head of Homeland Security? Cipollone answered "no" to each query.

"He's got to condemn this shit ASAP," Trump's eldest son, Don Jr., appealed in a text message to Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows. "They will try to fuck his entire legacy on this if it gets worse."

The onslaught on the Capitol, as Vice President Mike Pence met with lawmakers, led to several deaths, injured more than 140 police officers and delayed certification of Democratic President Joe Biden's victory in the November 2020 election.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the committee, said Trump had no interest in calling off the rioters.

"The mob was accomplishing President Trump's purpose, so of course he didn't intervene," Kinzinger said.

Trump remains popular among Republican voters and continues to flirt with the possibility of running for president again in 2024. But a Reuters/Ipsos poll concluded on Thursday found his standing among Republicans has weakened slightly since the hearings began six weeks ago. Some 40% of Republicans now say he is at least partially to blame for the riot, up from 33% in a poll conducted as the congressional hearings were getting underway. 

Trump denies wrongdoing and continues to claim falsely that he lost because of widespread fraud. "These hearings are as fake and illegitimate as Joe Biden — they can't do anything without a teleprompter," Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington said in a post on his Truth Social social media site during the hearing.

OFFICERS FEARED FOR THEIR LIVESScheduled during the evening to reach a broad television audience, the hearing was shown on most of the major US television networks. Another round of hearings will begin in September, said the panel's Republican vice chairperson, Representative Liz Cheney.