New media reports about Donald Trump’s behavior during and leading up to the Capitol riot last year corroborate witness testimony and help illuminate what he knew about the violent events of Jan. 6, 2021.
Fifteen sources ― including former government officials, aides and law enforcement officers ― offered their insight in a Washington Post report published Friday. Several said Trump had brought up the idea of marching to the Capitol alongside his supporters several times after he lost the election, but they assumed he’d made the remarks in a “joking manner.”
Thus, no arrangements were made for Trump to lead the crowd and no speech was written for him to deliver.
“There was no plan for what to do if Trump showed up,” an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence told the Post. “Frankly, we didn’t think it was going to happen.”
One aide told the Post that no one on staff was even sure where Trump got the idea to march to the Capitol.
When Trump brought it up again on Jan. 4, two days before Congress was set to certify the election in favor of Joe Biden, senior staff reportedly warned him it would “be logistically impossible and dangerous” to carry out this plan, the Post reported.
When Trump told the crowd at his Jan. 6 rally that “we’re going to walk down [to the Capitol] and I’ll be there with you,” his staff was in shock.
“I told people we were not really going to the Capitol,” one senior staffer told the Post. “It never crossed my mind that was legitimate.”
Two Secret Service agents also spoke with CNN about what transpired between Trump and his security detail as he left his Jan. 6 rally in the presidential motorcade.
Those moments came under intense scrutiny after Cassidy Hutchinson, a former assistant to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified Tuesday before the House committee investigating the riot that Tony Ornato, the White House deputy chief of staff for operations, told her Trump had lost his temper when his Secret Service agents refused to drive him to the Capitol, lunged toward an agent and tried to grab the steering wheel.
The story has circulated throughout the Secret Service for the past year, the agents told CNN. They were not present in the car but heard several accounts similar to Hutchinson’s.
“He had sort of lunged forward ― it was unclear from the conversations I had that he actually made physical contact, but he might have. I don’t know,” one said. “Nobody said Trump assaulted him; they said he tried to lunge over the seat ― for what reason, nobody had any idea.”
Neither of the agents told CNN they’d heard stories about Trump trying to grab the steering wheel.
Sources who spoke to the Post also commented on the car incident, with one former law enforcement official saying three agents who were with Trump on Jan. 6 are disputing that Trump ever grabbed or assaulted anyone or reached for the steering wheel. However, the source said, they do not dispute that Trump was furious at them.