January 6th Committee Closes in on Trump's Actions During the Attack
In their eighth hearing on the events of January 6th, Rep. Liz Cheney led the panel in uncovering the absence of Donald Trump during the attack on the Capitol.
In perhaps its most revealing hearing yet, the committee compiled evidence and testimony to detail the 187-minute hiatus Trump took soon after giving his speech on the south lawn of the White House. In the two-hour inquisition, the committee portrayed a stubborn Trump, refusing to listen to top advisers and his children, as he sat and watched the attack unfold on Fox News in a room adjacent to the oval office.
In never-before-seen video, viewers were astonished to witness a stubborn Trump ignore the pleas of his top aides and refuse to accept the election results. Harrowing accounts and testimony by law enforcement officers on the scene and several representatives portray the urgency and fear for their lives as the mob broke into the Capitol building, destroying offices and coming within feet of key leaders.
The panel revealed a lineup of key witnesses, former assistants to the President, Deputy National Security Advisor, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and even his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Each account contributed a detailed analysis of Trump's thoughts and actions on that day.
Here are the most important takeaways of the evening:
Trump's refusal to listen to top aides
The committee revealed several weeks ago new evidence, in the form of a draft tweet written by Trump himself, in which he encouraged the thousands of supporters at his rally to stop the steal. Trump tweeted, "I will be making a big speech at 10 AM on January 6th at the Elipse (South of the White House). Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the steal!"
Soon after his speech, in which he encouraged supporters to march and branded his own Vice President as a traitor, the thousands of supporters followed through on their orders. Shortly after, the violence erupted.
As the violence ensued, several key members of his staff and his children pleaded several times with Trump to condemn the violence. Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel, stated several attempts to persuade the President to deliver a response were made. In his testimony, Cipollone had stated he used a rather forceful tone when addressing Trump, to no avail. The committee revealed text messages to Mark Meadows, Trump's Chief of Staff, from various media personalities such as Sean Hannity and Lauren Ingraham, multiple senators and representatives, and even Donald Trump JR to persuade the President to deliver a response condemning the attack and accepting his defeat. These efforts yet again failed.
In testimony by Sarah Matthews, the Deputy Press Secretary, Trump had every opportunity to deliver a speech condemning the attack. Matthews had stated, "If the President had wanted to make a statement and address the American people, he could've been on camera almost instantly."
The Commander in Chief Did Not Call Anyone
One of the leading takes during the hearing was about Trump's commitment to his oath of office and his role as Commander in Chief. The panel included two veterans, Rep. Kinzinger and Rep. Luria, both reprimanding the absence of leadership required by the Commander in Chief during the attack.
The committee, through various testimonies, showed that Donald Trump did not make one attempt to call law enforcement leaders and military officials. Although supposedly law enforcement's biggest supporter, Trump did not inquire about the condition of law enforcement officers while he watched the close hand-to-hand combat ensue on the steps of Capitol hill. To this day, Trump has still not publicly recognized the efforts of law enforcement during the attack or those killed.
General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed his disgust at the absence of leadership from the President. The general had stated in his testimony with the committee, "You're the commander in chief — you've got an assault going on the Capitol of the United States of America, and there's nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?".
The Secret Service and the V.P
Trump's refusal to accept defeat led to the branding of his own Vice President as a traitor for certifying the electoral votes. Because of this, rioters within the building came close to confronting the V.P, making the situation for the Secret Service incredibly dangerous. Radio chatter from various Secret Service agents revealed the fear they had been experiencing, as they believed they would be overrun and killed. One agent, who remained anonymous, stated, "We came very close to either Service having to use lethal options or worse."
From a secure site, the V.P had committed to making decisions as a lack of leadership from Trump would exacerbate the situation. Pence ordered the Secretary of Defense and General Milley to deploy the D.C national guard to the Capitol.
At roughly 4 o'clock, Trump finally delivered a speech encouraging the rioters to stand down. In what was supposed to be a scripted speech, video evidence showed Trump's refusal to follow it. Instead, he delivered the speech off the cuff, neglecting to address defeat and the violence.
The next day Donald Trump delivered another speech from inside the White House. In video evidence, Trump blatantly refused to accept defeat. "I don't want to say the election is over, I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election is over, OK?" Mr. Trump said.
A wave of resignations followed as aides and advisors tried to distance themselves from the administration out of dissatisfaction with the President or to protect their integrity. Pat Cipollone had stated he and other top advisors wanted to resign but did not for fear of who would replace them.
This hearing served as possibly one of the most important ones conducted by the panel thus far. With the amount of evidence gathered by the committee, key officials across Washington wonder what legal implications can follow. The justice department has begun to inquire about collecting evidence from the committee for possible criminal convictions of leaders at the time.
Rep.Cheney and the committee concluded the hearing with closing remarks. Cheney had concluded with remarks on the implications of such an event on the republic. "We cannot abandon the truth and remain a free nation." She continued to reprimand the President, stating, "Can a president who is willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of January 6th ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation?'
UPDATE: Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist to the President, has been found guilty of contempt for defying Jan 6th committee subpoena.