Tuesday’s (12) congressional committee hearing into the6 January, 2021, Capitol riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump featured a detailed recounting of Trump’s actions to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Here are five takeaways from the hearing of the US House of Representatives Select Committee on 6 January:
MID-DECEMBER CONSENSUS: GAME OVER
By mid-December, after the US Electoral College count showed that Democrat Joe Biden had defeated the Republican Trump, leading Trump officials thought he should concede the election and wind down his presidency, they testified.
On 14December, the Electoral College declared Biden had won the election by 306-232 electoral votes.
In a videotape recording, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump was shown testifying: “I think it was my sentiment, probably prior as well.”Others providing the same assessment: former Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who also testified that then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows believed the same.
HIGH-VOLUME 18 December 2020, MEETING
The committee detailed a “surprise visit” to the White House the night of 18 December that lasted more than six hours.
It brought together outside Trump advisers ranging from personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to disgraced former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who fought to overturn the election on false claims of election fraud.
They presented a draft “executive order” calling for the US military to seize states’ voting machines. White House counsel Cipollone testified he thought that was a “terrible idea.”
What followed was several hours of screaming and insults that ranged from the Oval Office to Trump’s private quarters, participants testified.
“It was not a casual meeting. At times there were people shouting at each other, throwing insults at each other,” said Derek Lyons, former White House staff secretary. Giuliani said he accused White House staffers of not fighting for Trump’s interests.
“You guys are not tough enough. Or maybe I put it another way. You’re a bunch of pussies, excuse the expression. I’m almost certain the word was used,” he said.
At one point, Trump offered to give Powell a job as a special counsel with a security clearance, participants testified.
It was past midnight when the meeting ended, the witnesses said. Giuliani was escorted off White House grounds to make sure he did not wander back, US Representative Jamie Raskin said at Tuesday’s hearing, citing other testimony.
TWEET INSPIRES ACTION
Shortly after the late-night meeting, early on 19 December, Trump issued a tweet urging his supporters to assemble in Washington on 6 January for what he promised would be a “wild” gathering.
The committee provided evidence that this tweet energized militant groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to gather in Washington armed.
The committee showed an online broadcast of a right-wing personality calling for a “red wedding” on 6 January, code language for mass slaughter, Raskin said.
The committee showed social media posts in which Trump’s supporters advised people to bring body armour, shields and pepper spray to the Capitol on 6 January. Many of them contained racist or violent messages. One said protesters should “kill all Democrats.”
The committee said it found that Trump spoke twice on 5 January 2021, with former top adviser Steve Bannon, who was shown on videotape saying, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” as he referred to a “point of attack” that would be “quite extraordinarily different.”
KNOWN IN ADVANCE
The committee produced evidence that Trump supporters and staffers knew beforehand that the President would urge them to march to the Capitol on 6 January.
“Trump is supposed to order us to the Capitol at the end of his speech,” wrote Ali Alexander, an organizer of the rally outside the White House in a text message on 5 January.
A draft Trump Twitter message that never was sent referred to the upcoming speech. “Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the Steal!” It was stamped “President has seen.”
FOLLOWING TRUMP’S ORDERS
Stephen Ayres, a participant in the 6 January riot, testified that Trump’s speech prompted him to head to the Capitol.
“Basically the president got everybody riled up, told everybody to come on down. So we basically would just follow what he said,” Ayres said.
Ayres said he left the scene after Trump asked supporters on Twitter to stop the riot. He said he had since lost his job after his employer learned of his involvement, and had to sell his home.
Trump incited 6 January attack after ‘unhinged’ White House meeting, panel told.
Trump phone call to 6 January witness prompts DOJ referral.
By Richard Cowan, Patricia Zengerle, DoinaChiacu and Rose Horowitch