Donald Trump ‘made conscious choice not to stop deadly Capitol riot’

The House select committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol held a prime-time hearing in the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday (Picture: Getty Images)

Former President ‘chose not to act’ to stop the Capitol riot in a ‘complete dereliction of his duty’ to the country, the January 6 committee argued in its prime-time hearing.

The eighth and final scheduled public hearing by the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot focused on what Trump was doing between the start of the insurrection and when he released a short video urging his supporters to ‘go home’.

‘For 187 minutes on January 6, this man of unbridled destructive energy could not be moved,’ said the committee’s chairman Rep Bennie Thompson in opening remarks on Thursday night.

‘Not by his aides, not by his allies, not by the violent chance of rioters, or the desperate pleas of those facing down the mob. He could not be moved.’

Rep Liz Cheney (left) and Rep Elaine Luria (middle) spoke at the beginning of the January 6 committee’s public hearing (Picture: Getty Images)

Evidence shows that Trump ‘sat in his dining room and watched the attack on television, while his senior-most staff, closest advisers, and family members begged him to do what was expected of any American president’, said committee member Rep Elaine Luria.

‘On January 6, when lives and our democracy hung in the balance,’ she said, ‘President Trump refused to act because of his selfish desire to stay in power.’

Luria said that Trump made no calls to law enforcement or military officials, and instead called senators to urge them to delay the certification of votes for Joe Biden’s victory.

‘The count ground to an absolute halt and was ultimately delayed for hours. The mob was accomplishing President Trump’s purpose, so of course he didn’t intervene,’ said committee member Rep Adam Kinzinger.

Former National Security Council member Matthew Pottinger (left) and former Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Matthews (right) were live witnesses in the January 6 committee hearing on Thursday (Picture: CNP)

‘President Trump did not fail to act… He chose not to act.’

The committee used an anonymous witness to describe a scene where a lawyer Eric Herschmann told White House counsel Pat Cipollone that Trump did not want anything to be done about the mob.

The panel called two live witnesses: Trump’s deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews and a former National Security Council official, Matthew Pottinger.

Matthews said that it would have taken Trump ‘less than 60 seconds’ to walk from the dining room to the press briefing room to deliver remarks.

Former National Security Council member Matthew Pottinger (left) and former Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Matthews (right) spoke about ex-President Donald Trump’s actions on January 6 (Picture: Reuters)

Matthews testified that then-White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told her that Trump ‘did not want to include any sort of mention of peace’ in a tweet that aides were urging him to post on the afternoon of January 6.

‘Those who were in the room and she said that there was a back and forth going over different phrases to find something that he was comfortable with,’ said Matthews. ‘And it wasn’t until Ivanka Trump suggested the phrase “Stay peaceful!” that he finally agreed to include it.’

After the hearing, Trump stated through his Save America PAC: ‘”15 minutes of fame” Matthews, who I didn’t know, is clearly lying.’

Pottinger testified that in the days after the insurrection, he heard from top officials that they ‘were concerned about the health of our democracy’.

The assault ’emboldened our enemies by helping give them ammunition to feed a narrative that our system of government doesn’t work, that the United States is in decline,’ Pottinger said.

Both Matthews and Pottinger submitted their resignations on January 6.

Thursday’s prime-time hearing was filled with timelines.

Luria said that at 1.49pm as DC police declared a riot at the Capitol and mobsters stormed through barricades, Trump tweeted a video of his speech at the Ellipse from an hour prior. During the rally, he had encouraged his supporters to go to the Capitol building.

Rep Adam Kinzinger called Ex-President Donald Trump’s conduct on January 6 ‘a complete dereliction of his duty to our nation’ (Picture: Reuters)

A 2.24pm tweet by Trump stating Vice President Mike Pence ‘didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution’ was a focal point in the hearing.

It showed that Trump not only did not act to end the riot, but stirred it at a crucial moment, according to the committee.

Senior staff urged Trump to call the assault off for about an hour but the president refused, and ‘kept resisting for another almost two hours’, according to Kinzinger.

The January 6 committee played outtakes of Ex-President Donald Trump’s address to the nation the day after the Capitol riot (Picture: CNP)

The committee also played never-before-seen outtakes of Trump’s address to the nation the day after the insurrection, in which he stumbled on prepared text and .

‘Donald Trump’s conduct on January 6 was a supreme violation of his oath of office and a complete dereliction of his duty to our nation,’ Kinzinger said.

‘It is a stain on our history. It is a dishonor to all those who have sacrificed and died in service of our democracy.’



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