Trump watched the Jan. 6 riots for two hours on Fox News, committee hears

Trump watched the Jan. 6 riots for two hours on Fox News, committee hears

Donald Trump sat in his presidential dining room for two and a half hours on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, watching a live broadcast on Fox News as crowds of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, a congressional committee heard.

A panel investigating the violence said Thursday night it had evidence from multiple White House witnesses that the former president ignored pleas from those closest to him – including his own family – to make a statement calling on his supporters to stand down.

Instead, the committee heard Trump watching the events on television, tweeting his speech at a rally earlier in the day and making calls to senators set to confirm the results of the 2020 election.

At the same time, Trump officials received messages from the Capitol that the safety of his Vice President, Mike Pence, was in such danger that members of his security detail feared for their lives.

At the main hearing, members heard from two White House aides who were present that day: Matt Pottinger, who worked as deputy national security adviser, and Sarah Matthews, a former press aide.

They played video evidence from several people who worked in the building that day, all of whom said they did not see or hear the former president call for law enforcement as the mob invaded Congress.

Mark Milley, the head of the US military, told the committee he was concerned about the lack of action. In recorded testimony, he said: “You are the commander-in-chief and there is an attack on the US Capitol. And there is nothing? No calls? Zero?”

The panel also presented evidence from multiple witnesses who recounted a confrontation between Trump and Secret Service officers as he tried to join his supporters at the Capitol — despite knowing some of them were armed.

After accepting that he had to return to the White House, Trump returned to his office where he watched the violence unfold live on television.

The committee heard that Trump expressed sympathy for his supporters, even as they chanted “Hang Mike Pence.”

Cassidy Hutchinson, a White House aide at the time, recounted a conversation between Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, and Pat Cipollone, a White House adviser.

“Mark replied something to the effect of, ‘You heard me, Pat, he thinks Mike deserves it, he doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong’.”

Several witnesses expressed concern about Trump’s 2:24 p.m. tweet, although White House officials believed Pence’s life was in danger: “Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what needed to be done to protect our country and our Constitution. ”

Hutchinson said she was “disgusted” by the tweet, while Pottinger said he decided to resign at the time.

Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Democratic Committee, opened the hearing remotely due to the recent diagnosis of Covid-19. He said at the session:[Trump] ignored and disregarded the desperate pleas of his family – including Ivanka Trump and Don Jr [his daughter and son] – even though he was the only one who could recall the mafia.”

Thompson added: “He couldn’t be moved to get up from the dining room table and walk down the stairs to the White House briefing room where the cameras were waiting and eager to relay his message to the wild mob.”

The committee held seven hearings aimed at refocusing voters’ attention on the violence that erupted after the last election — and Trump’s role in fueling it. Thursday’s meeting is the last in the series, although Thompson said the committee will meet again in September, when it will continue to present its findings and present new evidence.

The the hearings showed as Trump was told by many of his closest advisers that he had lost the election, but continued to pressure the Justice Department and individual states to stop processing the results. When he failed, he encouraged his supporters to protest in Washington, DC on January 6 – the date Congress officially confirmed the outcome.

Showing how close Trump came to overturning the election results, the hearings damaged the former president approval ratings and boosted the prospects of those who might challenge him for the 2024 Republican nomination.

There are gaps in the committee’s evidence regarding what happened at the White House on January 6, due to missing text messages sent by Secret Service officials.

The service deleted those messages just weeks after the uproar due to what it said was a “system migration process.” Only one text was downloaded and shared with the board, the associates said.

Thompson and Liz Cheney, the board’s vice chairwoman, issued a joint statement Wednesday urging the Secret Service to recover the lost data and warning that laws may have been broken.

“The process for preserving content prior to this purge appears to have been inconsistent with federal records retention requirements and may constitute a possible violation of the Federal Records Act,” they said.

Elaine Luria, a Democratic member of the committee, said they expect members of the Secret Service to testify in the coming weeks.

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