WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump didn’t want to disavow the rioters who had stormed the U.S. Capitol in his name on Jan. 6, 2021, and he removed lines from prepared remarks the following day calling for their prosecution, according to new evidence released by a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia posted a video Monday on Twitter showing previously unpublicized testimony from several people close to Trump, centered on a speech he was supposed to give Jan. 7, 2021.
“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,” Luria tweeted. “There were more things he was unwilling to say.”
According to video testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump’s aides were pushing him to record another speech the day after the attack to quell talk of his impeachment or removal from office via the 25th Amendment.
In one part of the video Luria posted, Jan. 6 committee investigators showed Ivanka Trump – Trump’s eldest daughter and a former senior presidential adviser – a draft document titled “Remarks on National Healing.”
On the document were handwritten edits that Ivanka Trump identified as her father’s. He had apparently deleted any mention of the Justice Department prosecuting the rioters. Crossed out from the prepared remarks were these lines: “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.”
Also crossed out was this message to those who had committed the violence: “I want to be very clear: you do not represent me. You do not represent our movement.” At the beginning of the document, Trump had apparently also crossed out that he was “sickened” by the violence.
Luria’s tweet was a reference to the committee’s prime-time hearing on Thursday, in which video outtakes from the Jan. 7 speech showed that Trump refused to say “the election’s over” and appeared frustrated, slapping the lectern with his palm multiple times while taping. He also hesitated to vilify the rioters in that speech, according to the outtakes.
During the hearing on Thursday, former deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews testified that Trump “did not want to include any sort of mention of peace” in a tweet that aides urged him to send as the Capitol riot was unfolding.
John McEntee, former director of the White House presidential personnel office, testified that he was asked to “nudge” Trump along to ensure he delivered the Jan. 7 speech. When asked what gave him the impression that Trump was reluctant to give the speech, McEntee told the committee, “The fact that somebody has to tell me to nudge it along.”
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