Putting aside Trump’s role in provoking the riot on Capitol Hill, his reaction was enough to justify impeachment
After the assault on the United States Capitol began last month, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported, “White House officials were shocked by Trump’s reaction.” She said they described him as “bordering on enthusiasm because that meant certification. [of Joe Biden’s election] was going off the rails. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), In an interview two days after the riot with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, also said that “senior White House officials” told him that Trump ” walked around the White House confused as to why the other members of his team weren’t as excited as him as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to enter the building. Sasse described Trump as “delighted” by the violence.
You can’t credit these second- and third-hand accounts with Trump’s mood as his supporters, outraged by his fantasy of stolen elections, stormed the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. . CNN isn’t exactly friendly to Trump, and Sasse is a longtime critic. Their reports were based on information from anonymous officials who cannot be asked to confirm or deny making the comments attributed to them. Yet, as members of the House suing Trump for inciting the Capitol Riot, point out, these accounts are consistent with Trump’s public behavior after the protest he called to “stop the theft” turned violent. .
Whether Trump intended to riot would be crucial if he were to be criminally prosecuted for his conduct on January 6. But whatever his intention before the riot began, Trump was surprisingly reluctant to intervene after the riot began, and his irresponsibility at this point is an independent ground for impeachment. His reaction betrayed his duty to “see that the laws are faithfully executed” as well as his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”.
Rioters began fighting with police and breaking through security barriers around the Capitol at 12:53 p.m., nearly an hour after Trump’s inflammatory speech at Ellipse Park, where he urged his supporters at the “Save America” rally “To” show their strength “against a” blatant attack on our democracy “by marching towards the building where Congress was about to anoint” an illegitimate president “, warning that” our country will be destroyed “if Biden was authorized to take up his duties. Video shows spectators started heading toward the Capitol during Trump’s speech, which began just before noon and ended at 1:12 p.m.
About an hour after Trump supporters acting on his imaginary grievance began their attack, he tweeted a video of his speech. Why not? After all, as he later told reporters, his remarks were “totally appropriate” and had nothing to do with the riot.
Half an hour later, after Vice President Mike Pence was rushed from the Senate to save him from the rioters who wanted to “hang” him because he refused to reject the election votes for Biden, Trump took the time to tweet this: “Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.” He was referring to the mistaken belief that Pence had the unilateral power to overturn the results elections, a claim Trump made repeatedly in his speech at the rally.
“Once we found out that Pence had turned on us and they stole the election like, officially the crowd went mad,” a man charged in connection with the riot said in a video Youtube. “I mean, it became a crowd.” Far from calling for calm, Trump chose this moment to stimulate the crowd by stepping up the rioters’ anger against the man they threatened to kill. And he did that after he was informed that Pence had been forced to flee.
Even after members of Congress were asked to protect them from rabid Trump supporters, he was still focused on challenging Biden’s election votes. At around 2 p.m., he mistakenly called Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) while trying to reach Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), One of the senators who had supported objections to the states’ electoral votes. battlefield. Lee handed his cell phone to Tuberville, who spoke to the president for a few minutes. Trump was “trying to convince him to make further objections to the Electoral College vote,” CNN reported, but “the call was dropped because senators were told to move to a place of safety.” Yesterday Tuberville told reporters that Trump “hasn’t had a chance to say much because I said, ‘Mr. President, they just took out the vice president. I have to go.'”
As this incident suggests, Trump was remarkably jaded by the violent invasion of Capitol Hill by his supporters. “There is no evidence that President Trump called Vice President Pence, President Pelosi or Senator Chuck Grassley – the top three in the line of succession – or anyone on Capitol Hill to check their safety during the attack “, note those responsible for the dismissal of the House. . Although “members of the House and Senate from both parties,” including parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), “Urged the president to intervene,” Trump did nothing until 2 p.m. 38, an hour and 45 minutes after the riot started.
“Please support our Capitol police and our security forces,” he said. tweeted. “They are really on our Country’s side. Stay in peace!” He reiterated this message 35 minutes later: “I ask everyone on the United States Capitol to remain peaceful.
As the House directors note, “these tweets were, obviously, totally ineffective in stopping the violence.” They argue that Trump’s late appeals for peace “did not reflect any substantial effort by the President of the United States to protect Congress.”
Finally, more than three hours after the riot began, Trump posted a short video in which he said this:
I know your pain. I know you are in pain. We had an election that was stolen from us. But you have to go home now. We must have peace. We must have law and order. We must respect our great people in law and order. It was a fraudulent election, but we cannot play these people’s game. We must have peace. We love you. You are very special. You see how others are treated so badly and so badly, but come home and come home in peace.
Trump thus reinforced the illusion that motivated the riot even as he called for peace, which he did not do because the violence was morally wrong, but because it was a tactical error that ” play[ed] in the hands of these people. The Capitol was declared secure approximately 15 minutes after the video was broadcast, nearly four hours after the riot began. The joint session of Congress resumed around 8 p.m., completing ratification of Biden’s election early the next morning. .
Trump summed up his feelings about the riot in a tweet he posted at 6:01 p.m. on Jan.6: Badly and unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever! “
Trump’s thoughtful view, in other words, was that the murderous violence of his supporters, while perhaps regrettable, was an understandable response to a terrible injustice he had invented. For Trump, the ardor displayed by his supporters was something to be remembered with pride. Instead of unambiguously condemning the riot, as he ultimately did a week later in a five-minute video released on the day of his impeachment, Trump expressed his love and appreciation for the criminals who had invaded and vandalized the Capitol, assaulted the officers who defended it, killing one of them and injuring many others; threatened to assassinate his own vice-president; forced members of Congress to run for their lives; and caused an unprecedented disruption in the Electoral College’s vote count, committing a “flagrant attack on our democracy” in the name of shutting down one.
Given his attitude, it’s no surprise that Trump hesitated for so long and ultimately did nothing significant to stop the violence or protect the Capitol. They were his people. While they may have gotten carried away, they were motivated by their dedication to him, which is the noblest cause Trump can imagine.