The US House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack held its eighth and final hearing Thursday for the summer where it focused on former President Donald Trump’s inaction during the 2021 US Capitol attack. The committee proceedings highlighted the fact that Trump failed to intervene to stop the riot until two hours after it had commenced. The hearing was the committee’s second aired on primetime television, and detailed a minute-by-minute account of the events as the former President moved from a political rally held at the Ellipse to the White House.
Former Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger and former White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews testified during the hearing. Both were present in the White House on January 6, and both resigned after the Capitol riot.
Sarah Matthews confirmed testimony given in a previous hearing by Pat Cipollone that the President could have appeared and spoken to the media at any time, saying “If the President had wanted to make a statement and address the American people, he could have been on camera almost instantly.”
The committee also presented evidence from two witnesses confirming that an “angry confrontation” in the presidential SUV occurred when Trump wanted to be driven to the mob at the Capitol, corroborating testimony given to the committee by Cassidy Hutchinson on June 28. Sgt. Mark Robinson from the DC Metropolitan Police testified that officials knew the rioters were armed and said “The President was still adamant about going to the Capitol.”
The motorcade waited 45 minutes for the Secret Service to decide whether or not Trump would go to the Capitol. From 1:25-4 pm, the President stayed in the West Wing dining room watching Fox News. At 2:13 rioters charged into the Capitol, smashing windows, damaging property and making their way closer to the Senate chambers where Vice President Mike Pence was held by the Secret Service.
“Members of the VP Detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives,” an unnamed White House security official testified, adding that there were “disturbing” personal goodbye calls made by Secret Service officers to family members over the radio. Security officials questioned if the Vice President was compromised and considered using lethal weapons to clear the crowd.
President Trump’s statement in the Rose Garden telling rioters to “go home in peace” came at 4:17, 187 minutes after Trump left the site of his “Stop the Steal” rally. Texts from former Trump Campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh to Pottinger revealed Trump’s unwillingness to condemn the rioters, stating “He won’t do that, because they’re his people.”
At the close of the hearing, Rep. Elaine Luria condemned the “glaring silence” by President Trump on the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick on January 7. “President Trump has never publicly acknowledged his responsibility for the attack,” she said.