Day 1,453: Gleefully watching TV, Trump had to be begged to act during deadly Capitol siege
During the insurrection inspired and encouraged by Donald Trump on January 6, there was panic and mania in the Capitol. But Trump, according to a Washington Post report, did absolutely nothing, and had to coaxed by multiple people into taking action.
He was too busy delightedly watching on TV from the White House.
But as senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas.
“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.”
The worst part of Trump’s inaction is that it was largely due to the fact that he saw the insurrectionists, as they saw him: allies.
Even as he did so, Trump did not move to act. And the message from those around him — that he needed to call off the angry mob he had egged on just hours earlier, or lives could be lost — was one to which he was not initially receptive.
“It took him awhile to appreciate the gravity of the situation,” [Sen. Lindsey] Graham [R-SC] said in an interview. “The president saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen.”
Congressional Republicans, ready to trash their reputations and stain the Constitution by voting against election certification, begged for help once it was the Capitol that was being trashed and blood was staining its floors.
Several Republican members of Congress also called White House aides, begging them to get Trump’s attention and have him call for the violence to end. The lawmakers reiterated that they had been loyal Trump supporters and were even willing to vote against the electoral college results — but were now scared for their lives, officials said.
Trump couldn’t even pick up the phone to check on his veep, even as they called for his execution.
Even as his supporters at the Capitol chanted for Pence to be hanged, Trump never called the vice president to check on him or his family. Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, eventually called the White House to let them know that Pence and his team were okay, after receiving no outreach from the president or anyone else in the White House.
Meanwhile, in the West Wing, a small group of aides — including Ivanka Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Meadows — was imploring Trump to speak out against the violence. Meadows’s staff had prompted him to go see the president, with one aide telling the chief of staff before he entered the Oval Office, “They are going to kill people.”
In the end, Trump sent a tweet, but had to be persuaded to include the message to “stay peaceful” to his supporters.
Trump baselessly claiming election fraud for months led to the January 6 event.
At the event, he implored his MAGA minions to take action.
When they did, he didn’t call them off until there was death and destruction in one the nation’s most sacred buildings.
Afterwards, Trump’s biggest concern wasn’t the health of police officers who defended the Capitol. It wasn’t the damage to the reputation of the U.S. regarding peaceful transfers of power. It wasn’t his allies in Congress. It wasn’t even his supporters hauled off by federal authorities.
It was that his late words even inching toward reconciliation made him appear weak. And that it led to the loss of a golf tournament at one of his courses.
1,453 days in, 9 to go