Security team

Pence’s security team was saying goodbye to his family as Trump ‘chose to take no action’ in Capitol attack, Jan. 6 hearing reveals

The violence that unfolded as a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on the day Congress certified Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory has so alarmed Secret Service agents tasked with protecting the vice -then-President Mike Pence that some of them called their families to say goodbye, all while then-President Donald Trump did nothing, according to testimony given Thursday before the committee Restricted House on January 6.

The primetime session, the eighth in a series of hearings the nine-member panel has used to present what it learned about the attack on the Capitol during its year-long investigation, was revealed that Mr. Trump’s inaction for the 187 minutes between finishing a speech at a rally on the Ellipse that day when he went to the White House Rose Garden to film a now infamous video in which he told his followers to go home after calling them “very special”.

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two House members who led Thursday’s presentation, said Mr. Trump had not simply “failed to act” between when he left the Ellipse and told the crowd to go home.

“He chose not to act,” Mr. Kinzinger said.

The select committee made clear throughout its two-hour presentation that Mr. Trump’s inaction was intentional and deliberate: A former deputy White House press secretary, Sarah Matthews, testified that Mr. Trump was opposed to posting a tweet calling on the rioters to be “peaceful”. It was only after Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, advised him to do so, that he acquiesced. Ms Matthews also said several of her colleagues feared any attempt to condemn the violence would bring a “victory” to the media covering the pro-Trump riot. Several Trump administration officials, including Gen. Keith Kellogg, Mr. Pence’s national security adviser, also said Mr. Trump had made no attempt to contact defense or U.S. officials. order, with former White House attorney Pat Cipollone telling the panel that Mr Trump flatly refused to take a call from the acting defense secretary.

Live updates on the January 6 hearing

Ms. Matthews, a longtime Republican who serves as communications director for House Republicans on the select committee on the climate crisis, said she considered the two tweets posted by Mr. Trump to be insufficient. But one of his colleagues disagreed. She said the Trump administration official “suggested the president shouldn’t condemn the violence because they thought it would be ‘give the media a win’ if [he] were to condemn his supporters”.

During the hearing, the official House GOP Twitter account called Ms Matthews “a liar and a pawn in [House Speaker Nancy] The Pelosi Witch Hunt” before deleting the tweet. Mr Trump also denied knowing her.

“’15 Minutes of Fame’ Matthews, whom I didn’t know, is clearly lying,” he said in a statement.

The committee also revealed testimony from multiple sources corroborating what former Trump White House official Cassidy Hutchinson alleged in his testimony several weeks ago regarding an altercation between Mr Trump and members of his service. secret. Ms Hutchinson had told the select committee that she had heard from Mr Trump’s retail chief that he had turned violent when told he could not accompany the rioting crowd of his supporters as they walked through the 1.8 miles from the White House to the Capitol. .

Secret Service officials, including Trump retail chief Robert Engel and Trump’s former deputy White House chief of staff Tony Ornato — himself a Secret Service agent — have denied that such an altercation has taken place. But a retired District of Columbia police officer who took part in the presidential motorcade that day, Sergeant Mark Robinson, told the committee there was a “spirited discussion” in Mr Trump’s limo. which had caused a delay, which he had never witnessed. the hundreds of motorcades he had worked on.

Multiple witnesses also said Trump was told rioters had breached Capitol defenses minutes after violence erupted at the site of the quadrennial joint session in which Congress was to formalize its defeat of Joe. Biden.

The committee revealed that Mr Trump’s first call after returning to the White House was to his personal attorney at the time, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, at 1:39 p.m.

Ten minutes later, Metropolitan Police officials in Washington, DC declared a riot at the United States Capitol. At the same time – 1:49 p.m. – Mr Trump tweeted a video of the speech he had given at the Ellipse just before.

At the Capitol, the situation was becoming tense. Mr Pence, who was presiding over the Senate, was kicked out of the chamber by his protective detail.

In an unprecedented move, the select committee released recordings of the encrypted radio channel used by the special agents tasked with guarding Mr Pence.

Officers discussed the progress of the rioters, who had entered the Senate wing of the Capitol and were heading to the second floor, where the vice president had just presided over the upper house.

“If we waste time, we could lose the ability to leave… If we have to leave, we have to do it now,” one agent said, the tension evident in his voice.

A White House security official, his voice masked to protect his identity, told the committee that the situation on Capitol Hill had become so alarming that Secret Service agents began to fear for their safety.

“Members of VP retail at this time were beginning to fear for their own lives,” the official said. “There were calls to say goodbye to family members.”

At 2:24 p.m., Mr. Trump sent a tweet criticizing Mr. Pence for refusing to help him annul the election they had lost. Rioters were infuriated by the tweet to the point that Mr Pence’s bodyguards had to move it yet again.

Matt Pottinger, US Marine Corps veteran and former the wall street journal A journalist who served as Mr. Trump’s deputy national security adviser, told the select committee that the tweet about Mr. Pence was what prompted him to resign from his post.

“One of my assistants handed me a sheet of paper containing the tweet… I read it and was quite disturbed by it. I was disturbed and worried to see that the president was attacking [Mr] Pence for doing his constitutional duty. So the tweet struck me as the opposite of what we really needed at the time, which was de-escalation. And that’s why I said…it sounded like oil being poured on the fire. So that’s when I decided I was going to quit. It would be my last day in the White House. I just didn’t want to be associated with the events that were unfolding [at] the Capitol,” he said.

Many aides, allies and even members of his own family have urged Mr. Trump to tell the rioters to go home. But Mr Trump resisted the idea for hours until he was finally convinced to film the Rose Garden video in which he tells rioters: “We love you, you are very special”.

But even after the crowd cleared the building, Mr. Trump continued to insist on perpetuating the lies he tells to this day about the 2020 election.

Representative Pramila Jayapal, who was present at the hearing, said The Independent that the Justice Department needed to take steps to ensure that Mr. Trump could never hold office again.

“So I think if we’re ever going to be held to account on this, the Justice Department needs to be prosecuted, jailed, making sure that Donald Trump never runs for office again and everyone involved must face appropriate punishment. and penalty,” she said.

In what was one of his last tweets, Mr. Trump wrote that the events of the day were “the things that happen” when the election is stolen, even if the election was not stolen.

His personal aide, Nick Luna, told the select committee that he told Mr. Trump the tweet made it look like it had something to do with the attack on the Capitol, but Mr. Trump told him. still sent.

The next day, he continued to maintain the lies.

On the advice of his aides, Mr. Trump went to the Roosevelt Room of the White House to record a video of the events of the previous day.

The committee released excerpts from the video the White House released that day. In it, Mr. Trump balks at saying one of the opening lines of the speech condemning the mob violence he had instigated.

“I don’t want to say the election is over,” he said.

Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a member of the committee, told reporters after the hearing that Mr. Trump’s refusal to declare an end to the election continued, given that he allegedly tried to make the Republican president Wisconsin changes 2020 election results.

“So to this day he does not accept the outcome of the election and he is trying to make this fiction a litmus test for participation in the Republican Party,” he said. “And if not, we see that he is really trying to run a political party like a religious cult.”

The hearing was the last officially announced, but Ms Cheney said the select committee would convene further hearings in September.

“Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued and the dam has begun to break,” she said. “And now, even as we conduct our ninth hearing, we have a lot more We have a lot more evidence to share with the American people, and more to gather.”

Mr. Raskin then clarified that no additional hearing had yet been announced for the month of September.

“I can bet you there will be other hearings in the future but we don’t say when and we don’t say exactly what the topics are,” he said.