The last Jan. 6 committee hearing of the summer was a clear condemnation of former President Donald Trump’s actions as his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol. Note that I said “action” and not “inaction,” as has often been applied to Trump’s conspicuous absence for 187 minutes of that day.
Because it’s now very clear that the president's refusal to call off the rioters who had broken through police lines was a choice.
Because it’s now very clear that the president's refusal to call off the rioters who had broken through police lines was a choice. Trump’s wording in the few tweets he did send out after his speech at the Ellipse, targeting his vice president and flattering his supporters, was also a choice. The lack of calls from Trump to any members of his national security staff or law enforcement was a choice. Tossing out the speech drafted for him to instead praise the mob and, incredibly, repeat his lies about a stolen election was a choice.
What was also clear from the footage that the committee released on Thursday night is that Trump wasn’t engaged with the peaceful transfer of power until forced to be. After he finally recorded a video statement in the Rose Garden telling rioters to go home that afternoon, the White House closed up shop with staff “emotionally exhausted” from trying to get the president to do his job. It would take hours for the job of clearing out the Capitol to be completed, even as the president himself had checked out.
In this raw footage, and in equally striking outtakes from the next day, we see Trump repeatedly try to reframe his speech to the nation and keep his big lie going. “I don’t want to say the election is over,” Trump told his staff. “I just want to say ‘Congress has certified the results’ without saying the election is over, okay?”
The date is Jan. 7, 2021, and Donald Trump still doesn’t want to say that the 2020 election is over. And that, too, is a choice.