Ex-president Donald Trump sat for hours watching insurrection on live TV on January 6, 2021, ignoring pleas by his children and other close advisers to urge his supporters to stop the violence, witnesses tell US congressional hearing.
An irate Donald Trump demanded to be taken to the Capitol after the supporters he sent laid siege, well aware of the deadly attack and that some in the mob were armed but refusing to call it off as they fought to reverse his election defeat, witnesses have told the January 6 investigating committee.
Ex-US president Trump had dispatched the crowd to Capitol Hill in heated rally remarks at the Ellipse behind the White House, and "within 15 minutes of leaving the stage, President Trump knew that the Capitol was besieged and under attack," said the committee member Elaine Luria on Thursday.
She said the panel had received testimony confirming the powerful previous account of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson of an altercation involving Trump as he insisted the Secret Service drive him to the Capitol.
"President Trump sat at his dining table and watched the attack on television while his senior-most staff, closest advisors and family members begged him to do what is expected of any American president," said Luria.
Among the witnesses testifying in a recorded video was retired DC Metropolitan Police Department Sergeant Mark Robinson who told the committee that Trump was well aware of the number of weapons in the crowd of his supporters but wanted to go regardless.
"The only description that I received was that the president was upset, and that he was adamant about going to the Capitol and that there was a heated discussion about that," Robinson said.
The panel heard Trump was "irate."
Luria said Trump "did not call to issue orders. He did not call to offer assistance."
Trump denies wrongdoing and continues to claim falsely that he lost because of widespread fraud. "These hearings are as fake and illegitimate as Joe Biden — they can't do anything without a teleprompter," Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington said in a post on his Truth Social social media site as the hearing began.
Needs for accountability
Chairman Bennie Thompson opened Thursday’s prime-time hearing of the committee, saying Trump as president did "everything in his power to overturn the election" he lost to Joe Biden, including before and during the deadly Capitol attack.
"He lied, he bullied, he betrayed his oath," charged Thompson.
After months of work and weeks of hearings, committee co-chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming said "the dam has begun to break" on revealing what happened that day, at the White House as well as in the violence at the Capitol.
This was probably the last hearing of the summer, but the panel said they will resume in September as more witnesses and information emerges.
"Our investigation goes forward," said Thompson testifying remotely as he isolates after testing positive for Covid-19. "There needs to be accountability."
Plunging into its second prime-time hearing on the Capitol attack, the committee vowed close scrutiny of Trump's actions during the deadly riot, which the panel says he did nothing to stop but instead "gleefully" watched on television at the White House.
The panel, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the violent insurrection, is holding its eighth public hearing into the attack on the Capitol.