Former President Donald Trump spent his time as the Capitol riot unfolded last year watching footage of his supporters battling with law enforcement and storming the building with enthusiasm as he cheered on the people “fighting for” him, according to a top aide.
Stephanie Grisham told The Associated Press that Mr Trump spent much of the time on 6 January 2021 watching cable news footage and rewinding it to see parts that he wanted to see multiple times: “Trump’s attention was so rapt that he hit rewind and watched certain moments again,” according to Ms Grisham, a former White House press secretary
At one moment he even turned to Ms Grisham, among those shocked aides who would resign in protest after the attack, and said with admiration: “Look at all of the people fighting for me.”
During that time the president also showed confusion as to why Ms Grisham and other aides were not as enthused by the horrifying, violent scene taking place at the Capitol building as he himself was.
The shocking revelation depicts a president showing little to no signs of concern for the beleaguered members of US Capitol Police who were facing significant danger as they battled his supporters on Capitol Hill; several committed suicide after the attack, and one died after suffering two strokes a day after he was on scene being fiercely attacked by rioters.
Much of the 6 January committee’s focus has been on what Mr Trump was doing during the time he was in the White House and his supporters were attacking the Capitol; it now appears that Mr Trump was well aware of the extent of the danger and was actively cheering on the unfolding chaos. His allies, top advisers and even members of his own family were meanwhile desperately imploring him to act, which he did in the form of a tweet and (much later) a video message urging his supporters to go home.
Among those aides who urged someone to convince the president to act was Alyssa Farah, a former loyalist and communications staffer in the White House who according to the AP on Monday texted a top aide to Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, pleading for Mr Trump to call off his supporters.
“Is someone getting to potus? He has to tell protestors to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed,” she correctly predicted.
The revelations are expected to mean bruising public testimonials of the attack and Mr Trump’s actions that will take place this spring as the January 6 committee prepares to release its report on the riot. The firsthand accounts of the riot from inside the White House could spell more political blowback for Republicans and could illuminate whether anyone will face criminal charges for instigating the massive crowds in DC who charged the Capitol after Mr Trump ordered them to “fight like hell” for his false claims about the 2020 election.
Mr Trump has continued spreading falsehoods about his election defeat and the US election system in general since losing, and remains a major figure in the GOP as he openly contemplates a 2024 bid for the White House.
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