Former President Donald Trump omitted parts of his speech after the Capitol Riot that condemned the perpetrators and promised action by the Justice Department, according to recently released testimony from the House Select Committee investigating the attacks.
On Monday, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., a member of the committee, released a three-and-a-half-minute-long video of interviews with his aides that detailed how Trump went out of his way to remove language that appeared to cast blame on the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“It took more than 24 hours for President Trump to address the nation again after his Rose Garden video on January 6th in which he affectionately told his followers to go home in peace. There were more things he was unwilling to say,” Luria posted in a tweet with the video attached.
It took more than 24 hours for President Trump to address the nation again after his Rose Garden video on January 6th in which he affectionately told his followers to go home in peace.
There were more things he was unwilling to say. pic.twitter.com/cJBIX5ROxs
— Rep. Elaine Luria (@RepElaineLuria) July 25, 2022
What his aides made clear was that Trump possessed little interest in harsh condemnation of the mob, despite the threat they posed to his Vice President Mike Pence and their attacks on police officers defending the Capitol. Instead, he omitted entire portions of a speech he’d deliver following the riot that was prepared by his team of aides.
“I am directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawbreakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We must send a very clear message – not with mercy, but with JUSTICE. Legal consequences must be swift and firm,” read one entirely crossed-out section of the speech.
“I want to be very clear, you do not represent me. You do not represent our movement,” read another part that was crossed out about the rioters.
His aides testified to the committee that they did not understand Trump’s motivations for doing so. Amond the aides were his eldest daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.
Donald Trump’s aides recounted scrambling to come up with the appropriate remarks after the riot subsided, something Kushner described as essential to further de-escalation in the wake of the violence. Pat Cipollone, the former White House counsel, said that he wanted Donald Trump to express a desire to see violent rioters prosecuted and issue a complete disavowal of any association they had with him.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told investigators that there were also concerns about a potential invocation of the 25th Amendment as well as other risks to Donald Trump’s legacy in the last days of his presidency.
Hutchinson appeared before the committee for public testimony on June 28. She recounted how aides close to Donald Trump — they included Meadows and personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, as well as a number of Republican congressmen — requested pardons before Donald Trump left office.
However, convincing Donald Trump to deliver the appropriate comments appeared to be a struggle in its own right. Shown a copy of the speech by committee investigators and asked if she recognized the handwriting of the edits, Ivanka Trump admitted it was her father’s.
“I don’t know,” Kushner told investigators when questioned on why Trump specifically removed lines from his speech that disavowed or condemned the rioters.
Michael McEntee, Donald Trump’s former Director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, recounted that Kushner urged McEntee to persuade his father-in-law to deliver the remarks as written.
McEntee said that the hope was that this would “nudge [Donald Trump along]” into delivering the speech. Asked whether this was done because of reluctance to do so on Donald Trump’s part, McEntee said that was indeed the case.