Monday, September 25

Watching TV while democracy is in danger: the committee investigating the assault on Capitol Hill reproaches Trump for his passivity

Former United States President Donald Trump decided not to stop the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 because it suited him and instead spent the afternoon watching it on television. That’s how resounding the committee investigating that attack was on Thursday when it reproached him for deliberate passivity.

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“He was the only person in the world capable of stopping the crowd. He could not be mobilized by either his assistants or his allies. He ignored the desperate requests of his own family, including (his children) Ivanka and Donald Jr. ”, said the chairman of that committee, Democrat Bennie Thompson. This new session, broadcast during prime time, was the eighth and last, until September, of this series of public interrogations that began a month ago.

The focus was on the 187 minutes that passed since Trump harangued the crowd to make themselves heard in the Capitol until at 4:17 p.m. that afternoon he posted a video on Twitter where he told them for the first time that they had to leave the seat of Congress.

In total, some 10,000 people participated in the protest – most of them Trump supporters – and about 800 broke into the building while the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the November presidential elections was being formally certified. The day left five dead and about 140 wounded agents.

Three and a half hour wait

For the committee, the 187 minutes examined provide a clear example of abandonment of power by the former president, who until the video cited had published a tweet to criticize the fact that his vice president, Mike Pence, refused to annul the elections, and two to ask protesters who were peaceful and respected the law. Trump refused to use the word peace and it was his daughter who convinced him to use that other formula.

The president was then in the White House, having failed to convince his drivers to take him to the Capitol, as recalled today and recounted on June 28 by a key witness in this political investigation, Cassidy Hutchinson, assistant to the then chief of presidential cabinet, Mark Meadows.

If he had appeared, according to a security agent, it would have ceased to be a public demonstration to become “something else.” “I don’t know if you want to use the word insurrection, coup or whatever,” he told the committee.

The two main witnesses were this Thursday Matthew Pottinger, assistant to the national security adviser in the Trump government, and the then White House deputy spokeswoman, Sarah Matthews, who resigned after the assault, considering it “indefensible.”

If Trump had wanted to quickly address the nation, according to Matthews, he could have done so in less than a minute. That’s how long it takes him to get from the private dining room in the west wing to the media room.

follow up on television

But Trump was following the altercations on the conservative network Fox News, and instead of listening to his advisers and mobilizing law enforcement, he called his lawyer, Rudy Giulani, and senators inside the Capitol to encourage them to delay. the certification of the electoral results. While the mob was already inside the building, there were agents of the Vice President, Mike Pence, who according to a security official began to fear for their lives and called their relatives to say goodbye.

Among those worried about how the situation was deteriorating and its implications was the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, who asked Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to intercede. On January 7, the former president still refused to close the elections.

The committee had hoped to have a series of text messages from the Secret Service sent on January 5 and 6 that might have offered more details, but has only received one. The rest were deleted as part of a previously planned system migration and according to the media cannot be recovered.

This Thursday it has become known that the Department of Homeland Security launched a criminal investigation into that elimination and has asked the Secret Service to cease theirs so that there is no interference.

Previous hearings had served to determine links between the former president and his circle with supremacist groups that led the protest and to influence that Trump’s closest entourage repeatedly stressed to him that his theory of election theft was unfounded.

The first lady, Melania Trump, said Thursday on Fox News that she did not immediately condemn the violence unleashed because she was working that afternoon and no one informed her of the altercations.