A congressional committee has learned that former US President Donald Trump ignored his children and staff members who “begged him” to confront the crowd as he watched television at the White House during the Capitol brawl last year.
Adam Kinzinger, one of the two Republicans on the Democratic-led committee, stated that “he opted not to act.”
Mr. Trump allegedly didn’t make a single call to the national security or law enforcement personnel during the prime-time session.
The investigation claimed that his motivation was “his self-centered desire to maintain power.”
In its eighth session of the summer on Thursday, the House of Representatives Select Committee drew a chronology depicting Mr. Trump’s activities during 187 minutes on January 6, 2021, as a horde of his followers stormed Congress.
The panel is seeking to build a case that Mr Trump, a Republican, acted illegally in a bid to overturn his defeat by Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the November 2020 presidential election. Members of the committee have suggested there might be enough evidence to charge Mr Trump with such counts as obstructing an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the American people or witness tampering.
Any potential prosecution of Mr Trump would be led by the Department of Justice. But some commentators have suggested that advice issued by Attorney General Merrick Garland requiring prosecutors to obtain approval before embarking on politically sensitive investigations means it is unlikely Mr Trump will ever face trial. Mr Trump, who has been hinting he may run again for president in 2024, has dismissed the inquiry as a “kangaroo court” designed to distract Americans from the “disaster” of Democratic governance.
Former President Trump reportedly spent more than two and a half hours in the White House’s private dining room watching Fox News coverage of the disturbance.
“President Trump sat at his dining table and watched the assault on television while his senior-most staff, closest advisers, and family members asked him to do what is required of any American president,” said Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat on the committee.
Additionally, the member said that the principal White House photographer had requested permission to snap photos during the historic occasion but had been denied.
A former White House national security staffer, whose voice was obscured to conceal his identity, said officials in the executive mansion were “in a state of shock” over what was unfolding at the Capitol. The committee also played parts of a videotaped testimony by former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who said he had pushed for a strong statement from the president condemning the onslaught. “I said that people need to be told, there needs to be a public announcement, fast, that people need to leave the Capitol,” said Mr Cipollone.
The president’s children, Ivanka Trump and Don Jr, had also wanted him to call off the rioters, the committee heard. But former press aide Sarah Matthews testified that an unnamed White House colleague had argued that if Mr Trump were to disavow the violence. it would be “handing a win to the media”. At 14:24 that day, Mr Trump sent a tweet attacking his Vice-President, Mike Pence, saying he “didn’t have the courage to” spurn his constitutional duty of certifying Mr Biden’s election win at Congress.
Ms Matthews said the post amounted to “pouring gasoline on the fire”. She and Matthew Pottinger, who was deputy national security adviser to the president, testified that that tweet had prompted them both to resign.
Three hours and seven minutes after the assault began, Mr Trump released a video at 16:17, recorded from the White House Rose Garden, in which he praised the rioters as “very special”, but asked them to disperse. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the committee and a Mississippi Democrat, said in his opening remarks: “For 187 minutes on Jan 6, this man of unbridled destructive energy could not be moved. “Not by his aides, not by his allies, not by the violent chants of rioters, or the desperate pleas of those facing down the mob. He could not be moved.”
The committee also aired a previously unseen video outtake of Mr Trump on 7 January repudiating the violence at the Capitol of the day before.
During the tape, Mr. Trump was heard saying, “I don’t want to announce the election is over,” as he appeared to be reading from a script.
According to US polling, the hearings aren’t having much of an influence on Republican supporters’ perceptions of Mr. Trump personally.
According to a recent PBS poll, more than half of party members want the 76-year-old to be the Republican nominee for president in 2024, but only one in five believe the man should be prosecuted for what he did on January 6.
In the meantime, President Joe Biden’s support rating among Americans has dropped to only 37%, which is worse than it has ever been for Mr. Trump during his administration.