January 6 hearing: Trump did nothing to stop the deadly violence for three crucial hours

'A stain on our history': US House hearing slams former president's conduct in hours around attack on Capitol

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Former US president Donald Trump sat for hours watching Fox News in the White House dining room as the January 6, 2021 insurrection unfolded yet made no attempt to stop the deadly violence despite pleas from family members and staff, a House committee said on Thursday.

The panel also heard how Secret Service agents guarding then-vice president Mike Pence were so alarmed at the deteriorating security situation that they feared for their own lives as a mob brayed for Mr Pence to be murdered.

The two-hour hearing presented a detailed timeline of Mr Trump's actions — or lack of action — during three critical hours around the time of his supporters' attack on the US Capitol.

"President Trump did not fail to act in the 187 minutes between leaving the Ellipse and telling the mob to go home. He chose not to act," Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger said at the start of Thursday's prime-time hearing.

He later said that Mr 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."

"It is a stain on our history," Mr Kinzinger said.

The panel said Mr Trump spent the afternoon watching the events at the US Capitol on television instead of calling for additional law enforcement to address the violence.

Instead, he was calling senators to get them to object to the Congressional certification of the 2020 election results that was ongoing at the Capitol, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany testified.

The committee played radio clips from Mr Pence's Secret Service team, which depicted a frenzied scramble to secure the vice president as rioters closed in, some of them chanting: "Hang Mike Pence!"

"The members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives," a White House security official testified.

Once Mr Pence and his team were in a secure space, the unnamed White House security official said some made "calls to say goodbye to family members".

Leaders of the committee said presented more pivotal footage from White House counsel Pat Cipollone's testimony.

Mr Cipollone said that multiple people, including Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and chief of staff Mark Meadows, were trying to compel the former president to directly call on his supporters to stop the violent Capitol attack.

"Trump was being advised, by nearly everyone, to immediately instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol, disperse, and halt the violence," panel member Congresswoman Elaine Luria said.

Ms Luria said Mr Trump did not call on the military, federal law enforcement, Washington city police, or other law enforcement agencies to quell the violence. He also did not call Mr Pence as he was stuck in the Capitol.

The panel showed new footage of Congressional leaders speaking with military officials to secure the Capitol.

It also showed footage of far-right Republican Representative Josh Hawley running away from the rioters, just shortly after cheering them on outside the Capitol.

Former Trump White House staffers Sarah Matthews, the former deputy press secretary, and former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger testified on Thursday.

The former president only recorded a video message to the rioters when it was clear the insurrection wouldn't succeed.

New footage shown on Thursday and testimony by White House staffers showed how he went "off the cuff" by continuing to refuse to concede in the 2020 election and lie that the election was stolen.

Ms Matthews said that she resigned that evening because of Mr Trump's refusal to condemn the violence.

Thursday's hearing was the second held during prime-time hours, after the opening hearing that attracted a huge audience online and on TV.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said that there would be more public hearings in September.

The committee is continuing to conduct depositions as it reviews a large amount of evidence. Representative Liz Cheney said the panel has sent more subpoenas and information, and "the dam has begun to break".

The panel plans to send a report to US Congress on its findings this autumn.

The report may include criminal referrals to the US Justice Department, which would then mean the decision on whether to formally charge Mr Trump or anyone in his circle rests with Attorney General Merrick Garland.

On Wednesday, Mr Garland said the January 6 inquiry was the "most important" that the department had conducted and stressed that "no one is above the law in this country".

But MSNBC on Monday revealed an internal document by Mr Garland that suggested the department would not take on any investigations involving presidential candidates given "election year sensitivities".

Mr Trump is widely expected to announce he is running for president run in 2024.

Updated: July 22, 2022, 8:37 AM
NEWSLETTERS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL