Jan 6. Committee: What Trump Did–and Did Not Do–During Riot’s 187 Minutes Essential Moments

Jan. 6 Hearings Draw to Damning Finale

Detailing Trump’s actions, or lack thereof, during the 187 minutes he spent at the White House before addressing his violent followers, Thursday night’s hearing made for powerfully disturbing television.

The House Jan. 6 committee announced that their next hearing would provide a minute-by-minute account of what Donald Trump was doing during his 187 minutes of inaction as the insurrection unfolded.
The hearing presented such a devastating indictment of the former president’s dereliction of duty to the Constitution and the nation that no one could ignore its findings.

This 9th edition of the weeks-long series and final primetime hearing delivered the goods, to say the least.

It didn’t just offer new information to devastating effect; it also reassessed what is already knew.  Trump spent those 187 minutes fiddling while the Capitol burned.

But as it became clear, it’s not only that he did nothing to quell the violence. By his silence and his incendiary tweets, he further incited it.

 

January 6th hearings
“President Trump did not fail to act, he chose not to act,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who co-chaired the evening with fellow congressperson Elaine Luria. That both of them served in the military, as did former Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger, one of the two live witnesses testifying, only accentuated the sense of patriotism fueling the investigation of how close our democracy came to faltering.

Trump spent the majority of the time in question in his private dining room, watching television Fox News, of course).

He also made lots of phone calls, although we don’t know exactly to whom because the White House Daily Diary and Call Log went blank during those hours.

Trump is apparently the only president in history to rely on burner phones. He made no attempt to enlist any military or law enforcement response to turn back the murderous rioters. But he did contact senators to urge them to delay the counting of the votes, and Rudy Giuliani to do whatever he wanted him to do.

The committee heard testimony from Pottinger and former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews, both of whom preserved their dignity and reputation by choosing to resign in the immediate aftermath of Jan. 6.

Both made for impressive witnesses, with Pottinger exuding respect for the rule of law and Matthews, lifelong Republican, expressing moral outrage at Trump’s refusal to call off his violent minions.

The committee used the words of Trump’s Republican enablers against them. Numerous video and audio clips provided reminders of the initial condemnation of Trump’s actions by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, who have since expressed their support of the former president should he run again.

The most powerful moment was a photo of Josh Hawley doing his infamous fist pump supporting the protesters from behind protective barricade, followed by footage of him frantically fleeing when they actually invaded the Capitol. The footage was repeated in slow-motion.

Hawley wasn’t the only one in fear of his life.

The Secret Service agents protecting Pence were beginning to panic, as harrowing excerpts from their radio traffic made clear.

As the rioters got closer and closer to the Vice President, some began phoning and yelling out goodbye messages to family members even as Trump was tweeting out attacks on Pence.

“Trump put a target on his own vice president’s back,” Luria pointed out, while Matthews commented that Trump was “pouring gasoline on the fire.”

As Trump sat in his dining room, everyone was imploring him to do something, anything, to tell his demented followers to stand down. This included his aides, advisors, congressional Republicans, his children, and even Fox News personalities.

Don Jr. texted Mark Meadows that his father’s legacy would be destroyed if Meadows didn’t convince him to do something. “This is one you go to the mattresses on,” he urged, in the worst Godfather reference ever.

In pre-taped testimony, Pat Cipollone said that he attempted to persuade Trump to do something, to no avail. During his questioning, the former White House Counsel periodically looked forlornly at this own lawyer, who reminded him not to answer certain questions because of executive privilege. But Cipollone didn’t take the Fifth.

Trump did nothing during all that time, except tweeting.

He sent out a link to a video of the incendiary speech he had just delivered at the Ellipse Rally.

Trump did get around to delivering his infamous Rose Garden speech, in which he ignored the remarks that had been prepared for him and instead blew wet kiss to the rioters. After imploring them to go home, he added, “We love you, you’re very special.” His final tweet of the day reminded them to “remember this day forever.”

There was raw footage of Trump attempting to record his Jan. 7 video condemning the rioters’ actions. “I don’t want to say ‘the election is over,’” he told his aides as he fumbled through the brief remarks, finally whining, “My only goal was to ensure the integrity of the vote.”

Pottinger further decried Trump’s actions, comparing him unfavorably to such losers as in the 1960 election, Richard Nixon. (You know how far we’ve sunk when Richard Nixon gets cited as a moral paradigm.) He made a forceful argument that the events of Jan. 6 “emboldened our enemies” and that our national security had been weakened as a result. There was also audio footage of Steve Bannon, recorded days before Jan. 6, laying out Trump’s strategy to overthrow the election in detailed fashion.

Liz Cheney’s damning closing summation decried Trump for abusing his followers’ trust by “preying on their patriotism.”

Trump claims not to be watching the hearings, but we all know he is. And there’s no doubt that her closing words, “We will see you all in September,” made him shudder.