Trump aides feared he would make Capitol riot worse with initial videos, Jan. 6 committee says

·Chief National Correspondent
·5 min read

A Thursday letter from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection shed new light on the frenzied scene at the White House as supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol.

In particular, the committee revealed that its investigation shows a roughly two-hour period in which White House staff, including Ivanka Trump, pleaded with the president to tell his supporters to go home, but could not get him to do so.

Donald Trump
Trump speaks at the "Save America March" rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

In fact, the letter — which was sent to Ivanka Trump and invites her to speak with the committee — states that “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.”

Ivanka Trump was central, according to testimony by several Trump officials before the committee, to the effort to get her father to stop his supporters from rampaging through the Capitol. The ensuing riot delayed the certification of the 2020 election from moving ahead.

“Did you think that she [Ivanka Trump] could help get him [President Trump] to a place where he would make a statement to try to stop this?” committee staff asked Gen. Keith Kellogg, who was national security adviser to the vice president but was also close to Trump and with him on Jan. 6 at the White House.

“Yes,” Kellogg replied.

The committee asked Kellogg if Trump had rejected pleas from top staffers to try and stop the assault, including Kellogg, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany — and whether these staffers then concluded that “he might say yes to his daughter.”

“Exactly right,” Kellogg responded.

Keith Kellogg
Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence. (Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Kellogg said that Ivanka Trump made multiple trips to the Oval Office to reason with her father. This took place as many others were frantically trying to get the president to stop the mayhem, which came after he called on his supporters to march on the Capitol.

“Is someone getting to [Trump]? He has to tell protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed,” read one text from an unnamed person outside the White House to a White House staffer, according to documents obtained by the committee.

The White House staffer, also unnamed, responded: “I’ve been trying for the last 30 minutes. Literally stormed in outer oval to get him to put out the first one. It’s completely insane.”

The “first one” was an apparent reference to Trump’s first tweet in which he asked supporters to be peaceful, but did not ask them to leave the Capitol. “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!" Trump tweeted at 2:38 p.m.

A former Trump White House official has already told CNN that Trump did not want to include the words “stay peaceful” in his 2:38 tweet.

Protesters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Protesters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Earlier, Trump had egged on the crowd with a tweet blasting Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to throw out the election results in an effort to reject a democratic election and hand the presidency back to Trump. “Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done,” Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m.

It wasn’t until 4:17 p.m. that Trump released a video in which he told his supporters to “go home,” even as he continued to falsely claim that the “election was stolen from us.”

And the letter sent Thursday to Ivanka Trump says that “the select Committee understands that multiple takes of the video were filmed but not utilized. Information in the Select committee’s possession suggests that the President failed in the initial clips to ask rioters to leave the Capitol.”

The committee said the unused videos are on file with the National Archives, and it is seeking access to them.

It adds up to a two-hour period in which Trump watched the riot on TV, refusing entreaties from his closest staff and his daughter to tell his supporters to go home. The committee has asked Ivanka Trump to testify voluntarily, and has declined so far to issue a subpoena compelling her testimony.

The committee also said it wants to talk to Ivanka Trump about whether her father ever took action to order National Guard or law enforcement personnel to the Capitol to stop the riot.

Ivanka Trump
Ivanka Trump, White House adviser and daughter of Donald Trump. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“The Committee has identified no evidence that President Trump issued any order, or took any other action, to deploy the guard that day. Nor does it appear that President Trump made any calls at all to the Department of Justice or any other law enforcement agency to request deployment of their personnel to the Capitol,” the letter stated.

The letter comes a day after the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 on Wednesday that the National Archives could turn over materials requested by the committee, rejecting a request by Trump’s lawyers to withhold the materials under executive privilege.

And on Thursday, the Fulton County district attorney in Georgia requested the formation of a special grand jury to aid her investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results in that state.

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report Tuesday alleging that Trump’s family business had engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices.

“We have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit,” James said.

It’s not yet clear whether James, a Democrat, will file a civil lawsuit against Trump. She is not conducting a criminal investigation.

The rioters got within two doors of Vice President Mike Pence's office. See how in this 3D explainer from Yahoo Immersive.

Move through the story. Experience how close the rioters got in augmented reality by scanning this QR code with your phone
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