January 6 probe: Trump softened criticism of rioters in day-after speech
Washington DC - Former President Donald Trump resisted a push to firmly denounce his supporters who stormed the US Capitol in a speech the day after the attack, a member of the January 6 House Select Committee said Monday.
Trump crossed out lines in a draft of the speech telling the rioters, "You don’t represent me. You don’t represent our movement," according to a video released by Representative Elaine Luria.
Additional text deleted from the January 7 speech included: "I am directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawbreakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We must send a clear message – not with mercy but with JUSTICE. Legal consequences must be swift and firm."
When the committee asked White House aide Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, why Trump crossed out specific lines, he responded twice: "I don’t know."
In her Monday tweet, Luria said, "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."
Trump aides urged "de-escalation"
In the video released by Luria, Trump aide Jared Kushner says he had spoken with other aides and they were trying to put remarks together for the president.
"We felt like it was important to further call for de-escalation," Kushner testified to the committee.
Pat Cipollone, the top White House lawyer, also testified that he believed Trump should have forcefully laid out the consequences for the rioters.
"In my view, he needed to express very clearly" that the rioters "should be prosecuted, and should be arrested."
During its eighth public hearing last Thursday, the January 6 committee unveiled footage of Trump not wanting to denounce the rioters in real time as the attack unfolded. It also showed clips of Trump reading the January 7 speech and awkwardly refusing to stress that they must be punished.
In the outtakes, Trump becomes frustrated and discusses the wording with the staff present, including Ivanka. At one point, he tells them, "I don’t want to say the election is over." Angry, he pounds his fist.
In recent testimony, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who also testified in person in a surprise hearing last month, said the scramble to get Trump to speak again on January 7 was partly because of a "large concern" within the White House that some of his Cabinet officials might try to invoke the constitutional process of the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
Cover photo: Al Drago / POOL / AFP