Jan 6 hearings: Trump ‘chose not to act’
On January 6, 2021, only hours after rioters took control of the US Capitol, then-President Donald Trump sent a video message to the demonstrators.
“I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt.
“It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil.
“I know how you feel, but go home, and go home in peace.”
I still remember watching his statement on Twitter on January 6 and thinking: “This is the best he could come up with?” After all, the Capitol had just seen an armed insurrection that left several people dead and more than 100 police officers wounded. (Since then, more than 840 people have been arrested in connection with the attack that day.)
And Trump was telling those people that he loved them and that they were “very special”? Not to mention repeating the same lies about the election (“We had an election that was stolen from us”) that led to the insurrection in the first place?
There is no remorse on Trump’s part for his sarcastic tone of voice that day. And the following day, he intended to demonstrate his sympathy for the rioters even more overtly in a speech.
“They show Trump having a difficult time working through the effort to tape the message. Trump refused to say the election results had been settled and attempted to call the rioters patriots. He also went to great lengths to not accuse them of any wrongdoing.”
“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20,” he said. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of powers. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
That was not, however, the address he originally intended to deliver, as we now know. But he wanted to keep raising doubts about the elections and praising the protesters who had taken over the Capitol just 24 hours before.
The Trump administration’s strategy to both the January 6 and the 2020 elections is consistent with this.
In an interview with the Washington Post earlier this year, Trump said that he will be marching to the Capitol on January 6. In a heartbeat, I would have made the trip. Ex-Trump White House adviser Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified before a House select committee probing the uprising, said that Trump had approved of the “hang Mike Pence” chanting from the rioters when Pence’s vice president refused to seek an overturning of 2020 election outcomes. On a daily basis, Trump throws out unsubstantiated claims about how the last election was rigged in his favour.
The latest information on the aftermath of the Capitol riot confirms something we have seen signs of before: Trump did not understand (or did not care to understand) the gravity of what transpired on January 6. He didn’t see it as an attack on our democracy. Instead, he viewed it as an expression of patriotic fervor.
He did not understand it at the time. After all this time, he does not understand it. And he will almost certainly be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024. Let that sink in for a while.