One set of lingering questions around January 6 involves events at the White House that day. What was the President doing as the attack unfolded? How did the President respond to his supporters’ actions?
An Associated Press report published Monday provides some answers to those questions, drawing on allegations from former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham and testimony shared by the Jan. 6 Select Committee.
As the insurrection unfolded, White House staffers watched the mob of Trump supporters storm the Capitol on television screens positioned throughout the West Wing.
Trump reportedly reveled in watching the attack in real-time — the then-President’s eyes were glued to the screen as he hit rewind and rewatched certain moments, the AP reported, citing Grisham.
“Look at all of the people fighting for me,” Grisham recalled Trump saying.
The then-President was reportedly puzzled about why his staffers didn’t share his enthusiasm as he watched the insurrection unfold.
Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who acted as then-Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser at the time, testified to the Jan. 6 Select Committee that staff called on Trump to immediately address the violence at the Capitol, the AP reported. But Trump remained defiant for hours.
It wasn’t just Kellogg — several in Trump’s inner circle joined mounting calls for the then-President to call off the insurrection, according to the AP.
Top Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also called Ivanka Trump, demanding that her father “ask people to leave.”
“We’re working on it,” she replied, according to the AP.
Kellogg, for his part, urged against asking the President to make a last-minute appearance in the press room.
“Apparently, certain White House staff believed that a live unscripted press appearance by the President in the midst of the Capitol Hill violence could have made the situation worse,” the Jan. 6 Committee wrote in its letter asking Ivanka Trump to cooperate.
Trump eventually agreed to a video statement hours after his supporters stormed the Capitol. Multiple takes were filmed but not used. In those initial takes, Trump did not ask insurrectionists to leave the Capitol, according to the AP.
Two hours after Trump excoriated Pence in a tweet for doing his job of certifying the election results, the President released a video on Twitter telling his supporters to finally go home.
“This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people,” Trump said in the video, still pushing the Big Lie. “We have to have peace. So go home. We love you — you’re very special.”