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The problem(s) with Trump’s pushback against the Jan. 6 committee

The former president had plenty of time to prepare a proper response to the Jan. 6 committee’s findings. Apparently, Trump couldn’t think of anything real.


After the Jan. 6 committee referred Donald Trump to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, many congressional Republicans just didn’t have much to say. Maybe it’s the time of year; maybe it’s the mountain of evidence; maybe the GOP prefers to ignore the House select panel; maybe there’s a sense of overwhelming fatigue surrounding the former president.

Whatever the explanation, Trump’s party just couldn’t muster much of a response. “The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters. “Beyond that, I don’t have any immediate observations.”

The House Jan. 6 committee will release its full report on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Follow our live blog beginning at 10 a.m. ET for expert analysis in real time at

Of course, Trump didn’t wait for fellow partisans to rally to his defense; he tried to help his own cause. As my MSNBC colleague Hayley Miller explained, it didn’t go especially well.

“...But Liz Chaney lost by a record 40 points!” Not the strongest rebuttal from Trump, who posted those nine words on his social media site Truth Social after the Jan. 6 committee wrapped up its meeting. (Not to mention, he spelled the vice chair’s last name wrong.)

It went downhill from there.

After moving on from focusing on the results of Wyoming’s congressional primary in August — as if that race were somehow relevant to his many alleged crimes — the former president rolled out some similarly foolish defenses.

By way of his social media platform, the Republican argued, for example, “The Fake charges made by the highly partisan Unselect Committee of January 6th have already been submitted, prosecuted, and tried in the form of Impeachment Hoax # 2. I WON convincingly. Double Jeopardy anyone!”

Or put another way, he still doesn’t know what “double jeopardy” means.

The former president also complained bitterly that congressional investigators failed to take his ridiculous conspiracy theories seriously, which is true, but which hardly constitutes persuasive criticism.

But of particular interest was Trump’s most specific defense. “Americans know that I pushed for 20,000 troops to prevent violence on Jan 6,” he wrote yesterday afternoon. The Republican added about a half-hour later that Democrats “wouldn’t use the 10,000 plus soldiers I recommended for Jan 6th.”

The fact that he struggled to keep the details of his claim straight — was it 10,000 troops or 20,000? — wasn’t a good sign, though the underlying claim wasn’t altogether new. A week earlier, Trump did an on-air interview with one of his employees, suggested that Democrats may have “wanted” the attack on the Capitol to happen, and again said Democrats “turned down” the 10,000 troops he wanted to deploy.

As it turns out, the Jan. 6 committee examined this specific claim and addressed it explicitly in the executive summary released yesterday.

“Some have suggested that President Trump gave an order to have 10,000 troops ready for January 6th. The select committee found no evidence of this.” it said. “In fact, President Trump’s acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller directly refuted this when he testified under oath.”

The former president had plenty of time to prepare a proper response to the Jan. 6 committee’s findings. Apparently, Trump couldn’t think of anything real.