The day after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, then-President Trump released a video finally, reluctantly agreeing to a transfer of power to the “new” Biden administration. As soon as two days after the release of the White House video, however, Donald Trump wanted a mulligan.
A person with direct knowledge of the matter tells Rolling Stone that Trump told aides who were sticking by him that he wanted to deliver another speech to the nation, one in which he would double-down on the lie that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” via “fraud.”
The re-do speech, which Trump envisioned as a primetime address, would have been a tonal 180 from the video the White House posted the day following the Trump-inspired mob assault. The source adds that the president would have directly attacked the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s incoming administration, and vowed to supporters that he would continue “fighting” for them.
Since he left office, Trump has — in a way — delivered the follow-up address that he never got to give while in the White House, when lawyers and close advisers were warning him of his potential criminal exposure after the deadly riot. The twice-impeached former president has for months been repeating his anti-democratic lies in numerous speeches, rallies, interviews, and online posts. He has tried to argue that the violence at the Capitol took place independently of his actions. He has come out in favor of the Capitol rioters while promising to pardon them if elected to another term. He has cemented his lies about the 2020 election as widely-held mainstream conservative positions.
Trump’s push to deliver a second speech countering the one he gave on Jan. 7 came amid an internal struggle over his post-Jan. 6 messaging. The Washington Post, citing sources familiar with the work of the Jan. 6 committee, reported on Wednesday that the former president stubbornly refused attempts by staff to get him to condemn the rioters in the taped statement from the White House on Jan. 7
According to the Post, “over the course of an hour of trying to tape the message, Trump resisted holding the rioters to account, trying to call them patriots, and refused to say the election was over.” Trump was allegedly loath to call off the dogs and only agreed to do so after staff reminded him that Congress was considering invoking the 25th Amendment against him.
The public could get a glimpse of outtakes from Trump’s attempts to deliver the address during Thursday’s primetime hearing, in which the committee plans to lay out what they say are their final public arguments in their case against Trump. The committee is expected to focus heavily on Trump’s inaction in the 187 minutes between Trump’s speech at the rally at the Ellipse, and his afternoon message telling the “very special” rioters to “go home.”
In a clip released on Thursday by committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone testify that Trump remained in the presidential dining room watching news broadcasts of the riot unfolding at the Capitol.
What was Donald Trump doing while the Capitol was under siege? Take a look. pic.twitter.com/9mz3P6C4qK
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) July 21, 2022
The committee is also expected to detail how Trump reveled in the chaos and violence taking place at the Capitol. “He wanted to see it unfold,” Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) said this week, according to the Post. “And it wasn’t until he realized that it was not going to be successful that he finally stood up and said something.”