Lara Trump, the wife of Donald Trump’s second son Eric, has suggested that the former president “warned” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other officials about threats of violence as his supporters attacked the US Capitol on 6 January.
She told Fox News on 15 December that the Capitol did not have “adequate security” on 6 January, echoing similar deflections from other Republican officials who claimed that lawmakers failed to protect the Capitol that day as they scrambled for law enforcement support, but she did not address why a mob of Trump supporters stormed the halls of Congress in the first place, following months of attempts to undermine the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
“These people know – whether it’s Adam Schiff, whether it’s Liz Cheney, whether it’s [Adam] Kinzinger – they all know Donald Trump didn’t orchestrate this whole thing. He didn’t tell people to go to the Capitol and break in,” she said in one widely derided clip shared on social media.
“But he tried to warn them,” she added. “So many people tried to warn Nancy Pelosi, so why didn’t they have the adequate security there?”
Her appearance on the network defending her father-in-law’s response to the riots follows revelations that his allies – while publicly amplifying baseless election fraud conspiracy theories that fuelled the attack, then turning the blame on Democrats in the aftermath – had pleaded in text messages to his chief of staff Mark Meadows urging the president to stop it.
“He’s got to condemn this s*** ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,” the president’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr wrote in a text to Mr Meadows, according to texts obtained by the House select committee investigating the attack.
“He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” he added.
Mr Meadows reportedly texted in response: “I’m pushing it hard.”
As rioters organised online and discussed plans for violence ahead of 6 January, when Congress convened to certify electoral college results, Mr Trump on 19 December 2020 called on his supporters to gather in Washington DC and “be there, will be wild!”
“JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!” he said on Twitter on 30 December.
On New Year’s Day, he announced a “BIG Protest Rally” followed by “StopTheSteal!”
In his speech that day, he said “we will never concede. It will never happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.”
He also condemned his vice president Mike Pence for lacking “the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”
In his speech he said “we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down.”
He also added that “you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated.”
The former president waited hours to direct his supporters on-camera to leave the building, while texts obtained by the House committee reveal several lawmakers, journalists and Fox News personalities including Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity called on Mr Meadows to stop the assault.
After messages from Fox News hosts were revealed on Monday, and largely ignored by the network until the following night, top network personalities claimed that they have remained consistent in their views on the attack and assailed news media and the committee itself, which they claim is politically motivated.
While hosts publicly condemned acts of violence, they did not appear to link any of the events to Mr Trump, his baseless fraud narrative, his allies’ incitement and other right-wing calls for action in an attempt to forcefully reject the outcome from millions of Americans’ votes.
“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol,” Hannity wrote, according to texts obtained by the committee.
On his radio broadcast that day, he said that “we had the reports that groups like antifa, other radical groups – I don’t know the names of all of them – that they were there to cause trouble.”
“We also knew that there’s always bad actors that will infiltrate large crowds. I don’t care if they’re radical left, radical right, I don’t know who they are, they’re not people I would support,” he said.
“Mark, the President needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Ms Ingraham wrote, according to messages obtained by the committee.
Later that day on the network, she claimed that “the Capitol was under siege by people who can only be described as antithetical to the MAGA movement” and that “antifa sympathizers may have been sprinkled throughout the crowd.”
The House of Representatives voted to refer Mr Meadows to the US Department of Justice for contempt of Congress after his refusal to appear before the committee.
The Independent has requested comment from Lara Trump.
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