Did Trump Refuse To Call Off Rioters?
In an expletive-laced phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy while the Capitol was under attack, then-President Donald Trump said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.
“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy.McCarthy insisted that the rioters were Trump’s supporters and begged Trump to call them off.Trump’s comment set off what Republican lawmakers familiar with the call described as a shouting match between the two men. A furious McCarthy told the then-President the rioters were breaking into his office through the windows, and asked Trump, “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?” according to a Republican lawmaker familiar with the call.The newly revealed details of the call, described to CNN by multiple Republicans briefed on it, provide critical insight into the President’s state of mind as rioters were overrunning the Capitol. The existence of the call and some of its details were first reported by Punchbowl News and discussed publicly by McCarthy.
The Republican members of Congress said the exchange showed Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene. Several said it amounted to a dereliction of his presidential duty.“He is not a blameless observer, he was rooting for them,” a Republican member of Congress said. “On January 13, Kevin McCarthy said on the floor of the House that the President bears responsibility and he does.”
Speaking to the President from inside the besieged Capitol, McCarthy pressed Trump to call off his supporters and engaged in a heated disagreement about who comprised the crowd. Trump’s comment about the would-be insurrectionists caring more about the election results than McCarthy did was first mentioned by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington state, in a town hall earlier this week, and was confirmed to CNN by Herrera Beutler and other Republicans briefed on the conversation.“You have to look at what he did during the insurrection to confirm where his mind was at,” Herrera Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans who voted last month to impeach Trump, told CNN. “That line right there demonstrates to me that either he didn’t care, which is impeachable, because you cannot allow an attack on your soil, or he wanted it to happen and was OK with it, which makes me so angry.”“We should never stand for that, for any reason, under any party flag,” she added, voicing her extreme frustration: “I’m trying really hard not to say the F-word.”Herrera Beutler went a step further on Friday night, calling on others to speak up about any other details they might know regarding conversations Trump and Pence had on January 6.“To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time,” she said in a statement.
He called the idea that Trump wanted to stir violence a ‘preposterous and monstrous lie,’ and said he was only asking his supporters to pursue legal political ends.
‘The reality is Mr. Trump was not in any way shape or form instructing these people to fight using physical violence,’ he said. ‘What he was instructing them to do was challenge their opponents in primary elections, to push for sweeping electoral reforms, to hold big tech responsible – all customary and legal ways to petition your government for redress of grievances.’
Mr. van der Veen told the senators that “at no point was the president informed that the vice president was in any danger.” But in fact, Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, told reporters this week that he spoke by telephone with Mr. Trump during the attack and told him that Mr. Pence had been rushed out of the chamber. Officials have said that Mr. Trump never called Mr. Pence to check on his safety and did not speak with him for days.
Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican of Washington, who voted to impeach last month, confirmed a report by CNN that when Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, called Mr. Trump during the attack and pleaded with him to call off the riot, the president told him, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” A spokesman for Mr. McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment, but Ms. Herrera Beutler said he had relayed details of the conversation to her directly, and she issued a statement pleading with White House witnesses, potentially including Mr. Pence, to come forward and say what they knew.