Trump's defense team's claim he was 'horrified' by the MAGA riot

Donald Trump’s defense team’s claim he was ‘horrified’ by the MAGA riot violence comes under scrutiny with even Lindsey Graham revealed to have said then-president saw mob as ‘allies’

  • Donald Trump’s defense attorneys pushed back against reports Trump didn’t act fast enough or do enough to stop the rioters on January 6th 
  • ‘The House Managers’ suggestion that President Trump did not act swiftly enough to quell the violence is absolutely not true,’ they write
  • Argument is buried in a footnote of their 78-page defense brief 
  • ‘He, like the rest of the Country, was horrified at the violence,’ they note
  • But much of the action taken that day was done by Vice President Mike Pence and administration aides, who convinced Trump to tell rioters to go home 
  • Capitol was breached at 2:11 pm, Trump’s go home message came at 4:17 pm 

Buried in the 78-page brief Donald Trump’s defense attorneys filed in the impeachment trial is a footnote that pushes back against reports Trump didn’t act fast enough or do enough to stop the rioters on January 6th.  

‘The House Managers’ suggestion that President Trump did not act swiftly enough to quell the violence is absolutely not true,’ the attorneys note. 

They point to Trump’s tweets that day – which sent mixed messages of telling the rioters to be peaceful, saying that he loved them, and complaining the election was stolen.

The lawyers also argue Trump and ‘the White House further took immediate steps to coordinate with authorities to provide whatever was necessary to counteract the rioters.’

‘The fact is there are complex procedural elements involved in quelling a riot at the Capitol and on the mall – DC police, Capitol Police, National Guard, etc., There was a flurry of activity inside the White House working to mobilize assets. There is no legitimate proof, nor can there ever be, that President Trump was ‘delighted’ by the events at the Capitol. He, like the rest of the Country, was horrified at the violence,’ they write.

But much of the action taken that day was done by Vice President Mike Pence, who was in touch with law enforcement and Congressional leaders, and other aides who worked to convince Trump to denounce the violence.

It was Pence who helped facilitate the decision to mobilize members of the DC National Guard to the Capitol building on January 6th, CNN reported, and it was Pence who was in contact with the Pentagon on the matter.  Pence also spoke with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley that day.

Donald Trump’s defense attorneys pushed back against reports Trump didn’t act fast enough or do enough to stop the rioters on January 6th – the former president speaking at a rally that morning

House impeachment managers will argue Trump did not do enough to urge his supporters to go home on the day of the January 6th riot

A few days after the riot, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, said the president saw the rioters as ‘allies’ as he sought to overturn the election results

House impeachment managers, in their argument for prosecution, will allege Trump incited the insurrection with his rally and his claims the election was rigged. They will also argue Trump took to long to urge the rioters to go home.

The prosecution begins it case at noon on Wednesday. 

News reports from the time and later interviews with officials in Trump’s orbit paint a different story than that of the former president’s lawyers when it comes to his actions as his supporters stormed the Capitol – a riot that would leave five dead, a wake of physical destruction, and a second impeachment trial.

Trump was initially pleased to see his supporters fighting for him and had to be coaxed by staff – including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and daughter Ivanka Trump – into making a public statement asking the rioters to stand down. 

Some of the senators sitting as jurors’ in Trump trial, in the aftermath of January 6th, said it took him too much time to act.

‘It took him a while to appreciate the gravity of the situation,’ Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill, told The Washington Post two days after the riot. ‘The president saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen.’

Graham also revealed that on January 6th, as he was hidden with other senators in an undisclosed location to keep them safe from the rioters, he called Ivanka Trump to plead with her to have her father tell the rioters to stand down.

And House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who spoke with Trump after rioters were in the Capitol, was so worried about the Trump’s lack of response he followed up with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who was a powerful White House adviser, asking him to intervene.

The morning of January 6th began with Trump pressuring Pence, who, in his ceremonial role as president of the Senate would be overseeing the election certification, to overturn the results in Trump’s favor.

Trump has been putting the pressure on his vice president in the lead up to the certification, a move that angered many Republicans who saw Trump’s action as throwing his long-loyal vice president under the bus.

‘All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!’ Trump tweeted at 8:17 a.m.

He also called Pence before the vice president left the Naval Observatory to go to the Capitol, The Washington Post reported. 

Pence, instead told the president he would follow the law. He released a lengthy letter to members of Congress before arriving at the Capitol, explaining the Constitution did not allow him to change the results. 

Trump, angered at Pence’s response, prepared to address his supporters at a rally on the Ellipse, outside the White House. He speech would begin around 1 p.m. and followed warm up acts by his sons Eric and Don Jr., who encouraged the supporters to keep fighting for their father.

Trump even mulled walking with his supporters to the Capitol, bringing it up to aides ahead of time. 

The Secret Service and presidential aides nixed the idea for security reasons but Trump was so taken with the image of him leading a dramatic march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol steps, he referenced it in his speech.

‘After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you,’ Trump said.

‘I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,’ he added. ‘So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue!’ 

President Trump mulled walking to the Capitol with his supporters after his January 6th rally

Some of Trump’s tweets from January 6th

His supporters started marching before he finished talking. As Pence was in the House chamber, gaveling a special session into order, crowds of Trump supporters were outside the building.

At 2:11 p.m., the rioters broke into Capitol.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was pulled from the House chamber, where she had been presiding over an objection to the certification. Pence was pulled from the Senate chamber.

About this time, Trump called Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah – but by accident.

Trump thought he was calling new Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville, who had said he would object to the electoral votes of some states. 

Trump wanted to talk to Tuberville about expanding his challenges and slowing down the certification process even further. But he dialed Lee by mistake.  

The former president’s focus was on the certification. 

At at 2:24 p.m., Trump tweeted: ‘Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.’

Inside the Capitol building, the pro-Trump mob was looking for Pence with some shouting ‘hang Mike.’ Some rioters came within a few hundred feed of the vice president as Pence was pulled from the Senate floor by his security staff. 

Meanwhile, various members of Congress – who are some of the most well-connected people in the world – were calling White House officials, the governors of nearby Virginia and Maryland, and anyone else that they thought could help bring the building back under government control. 

A Trump adviser told The Post that, while this was going on, the then-president was spellbound to the TV, enjoying the spectacle. Aides worked to convince him to send a message calling off the rioters.

Trump supporters broke into the Capitol at 2:11 p.m.

At 2:38 p.m. Trump tweeted: ‘Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!’  

At 3:13 p.m., Trump tweeted again: ‘I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!’ 

During this time, as images of rioters storming the Capitol flooded TV screens, Trump didn’t reach out to check on Pence, who was sheltering in the complex, nor with any other Congressional leadership, including then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Speaker Pelosi. 

At 4:17 p.m., Trump posted a video to Twitter where he gave his most direct comments to date, telling the crowd: ‘You have to go home.’ 

But he also said he loved them: ‘Go home. We love you. You’re very special.’ 

And, at 6:01 p.m., as Washington D.C. came under a curfew, Trump tweeted yet again, this time complaining about the election results: ‘These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so ­unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!’ 

The Capitol was finally declared secured around 8 p.m. and Congress resumed its work of certifying Joe Biden’s electoral college win. 

At 3:45 a.m., they confirmed Biden would be the nation’s 46th president.

In the aftermath of the January 6th several White House aides quit because of their frustration with Trump’s lack of response to the riot.

‘If we could throw him to the angry mob, we’d throw him to the angry mob now,’ a Trump adviser told CNN. 

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