Donald Trump made little effort to hide his intentions about his 2020 defeat, even before it happened. In the run up to Election Day, the sitting president routinely said, for example, that he was prepared to reject the results based on whether he liked the outcome or not. All of this played out in public, for everyone to see.
But it’s the secret parts of the Republican’s strategy that warrant special attention.
The fake electors plot, for example, was kept under wraps, and participants were told not to disclose the scheme. But as yesterday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing also made clear, much of Trump’s plan to direct an armed mob to Capitol Hill was also concealed. As The New York Times explained:
President Donald J. Trump attempted to make the Jan. 6, 2021, march on the Capitol appear spontaneous even as he and his team intentionally assembled and galvanized a violence-prone mob to disrupt certification of his electoral defeat, the House committee investigating the attack showed on Tuesday.
The plan was for Trump to not only assemble the crowd, but also to deploy and join it. This simply wasn’t widely shared, however, even inside the White House.
The hearing highlighted a text from a Jan. 6 rally organizer, for example, who said Trump would have his followers march to the Capitol, though the then-president would pretend “to just call for it ‘unexpectedly.’”
The details, the organizer added, “cannot get out,” because other government agencies would object.
There was even a draft tweet, which documents show Trump personally saw ahead of Jan. 6, in which the Republican planned to tell his followers his rally would soon after be followed by a “march to the Capitol.”
The missive ultimately wasn’t published, but the point is that the then-president and his team planned to dispatch his summoned mob to the Capitol, and they were careful not to share this with others.
The Times’ report added, “For more than a year, Mr. Trump and his defenders have described the violence at the Capitol as a freewheeling peaceful protest gone awry. But the hearing on Tuesday laid out how the former president took a guiding role not only in bringing the mob fueled by his election lies to Washington that day, but also in the plan to direct it up to Capitol Hill, disregarding the advice of his closest aides.”
Indeed, this was a bizarre scenario in which the sitting president and members of his team had to keep parts of the federal government in the dark about his own plans precisely because he was acting against his own government’s interests.
Trump knew he was assembling a mob based on a lie. He knew the mob was armed. He knew he intended to dispatch the mob and have it descend on Congress. He knew top members of his own White House were vehemently opposed to all of this — fearing, among other things, being charged “with every crime imaginable.”
But Trump and members of his political operation quietly proceeded anyway.
Keep this in mind the next time someone on the right suggests the riot was simply a protest that spontaneously got out of hand.