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THE OTHER SIDE: Insurrection 101

I suspect many of you have more than enough things to do, and may not read the 154 pages of the Executive Summary or the 845 pages of the Full Report. So, in Insurrection 101, the first of several columns, let me offer a condensed version of the Committee’s conclusions.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word that describes what happened. Insurrection: “1. The act or an instance of open revolt against civil authority or a constituted government. 2. A rising up; uprising. 3. The act of rising against civil authority or governmental restraint; specifically, the armed resistance of a number of persons to the power of the state; incipient or limited rebellion.”

December 19, 2022 began with my usual iced latte at Fuel Great Barrington, making last minute revisions to my Floundabout column for The Berkshire Edge, then, back home, I settled in to watch the last public meeting of the Select Committee to Investigate January 6.

Quite frankly, Liz Cheney presented me with a great challenge. First, she inherited my significant dislike of her father, Dick Cheney, whose many lies about weapons of mass destruction helped launch the unnecessary Iraq War, a war responsible for untold tragic deaths and injury of Iraqis and Americans, and the unnecessary destruction of Iraqi civil society. Then, on her own, Liz Cheney had earned my distaste with her opposition to same-sex marriage and near constant pro-Trump voting record.

But ever so slowly, her unwavering commitment to the peaceful transfer of presidential power and her steadfast willingness to risk her political career to demand that the ringleaders of the January 6 attack on the Capitol be held accountable has won my respect. She and fellow Republican Adam Kinzinger defied partisan politics to ensure that we would learn the whole and uncomfortable truth about that shameful day.

Her very personal statement made so very tangible the profound reality that we have lived through an attempted insurrection:

“In April of 1861, when Abraham Lincoln issued the first call for volunteers for the Union Army, my great-great-grandfather, Samuel Fletcher Cheney, joined the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He fought through all four years of the Civil War from Chickamauga to Stones River to Atlanta … Silas Canfield, the regimental historian of the 21st Ohio volunteer infantry described the men in the unit this way. He said they had a just appreciation of the value and advantage of free government and the necessity of defending and maintaining it, and they enlisted prepared to accept all the necessary labors, fatigues, exposures, dangers and even death for the unity of our nation and the perpetuity of our institutions.” (Emphasis added.)

Cheney continued: “I have found myself thinking often, especially since January 6th of my great-great-grandfather and all those in every generation who have sacrificed so much for the unity of our nation and the perpetuity of our institutions. At the heart of our republic is the guarantee of the peaceful transfer of power. Members of Congress are reminded of this every day as we pass through the Capitol Rotunda. There, eight magnificent paintings detailed the earliest days of our republic. One painted by John Trumbull depicts the moment in 1793 when George Washington resigned his commission, handing control of the continental army back to Congress. Trumbull called this ‘one of the highest moral lessons ever given the world.'”

Cheney had offered us historical perspective, linking the decision to defend the Republic against the Southern insurrectionists who took up arms to maintain slavery to the work that the Committee has done and that the American people must continue to do.

I suspect many of you have more than enough things to do, and may not read the 154 pages of the Executive Summary or the 845 pages of the Full Report. So, in Insurrection 101, the first of several columns, let me offer a condensed version of the Committee’s conclusions: “In the Committee’s hearings, we presented evidence of what ultimately became a multi-part plan to overturn the 2020 Presidential election. That evidence has led to an overriding and straight-forward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.” (Emphasis added.)

While we witnessed some of the more public parts of the plan to overturn the 2020 Presidential election, many of us were unaware of what was happening beneath the surface. We heard Donald Trump condemn mail-in ballots; we watched him warn of fraud and illegal voting; and, yes, we heard him declare he couldn’t lose a fair election.

And when challenged by Joe Biden to condemn the violence of white supremacists and militia members, many of us weren’t surprised by his response: “The Proud Boys,” Mr. Trump said, “Stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem.”

I dismissed this as a repeat of his Charlottesville rhetoric, yes dangerous and provocative, but mostly more of his usual over the top rhetoric. I didn’t realize that Donald Trump was depending on this apparent alliance with the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and members of the militias. They were a critical piece of the multi-part campaign to guarantee that Donald Trump remained in power despite the results of the election.

This was an uprising planned in advance.

As for the central justification, the myth of the stolen election, the Committee tells us: “As votes were being counted in the days after the election, President Trump’s senior campaign advisors informed him that his chances of success were almost zero. Former Trump Campaign Manager Bill Stepien testified that he had come to this conclusion by November 7th, and told President Trump … ‘the group that went over there outlined, you know, my belief and chances for success at this point. And then we pegged that at, you know, 5, maybe 10 percent based on recounts …’”

Trump Campaign Senior Advisor Jason Miller testified that the primary data person for the campaign, Matt Oczkowski, told President Trump “in pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose.”

Nevertheless, even though advisors like Stepien and Miller argued against falsely announcing victory on election night, President Trump declared: “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election … We want all voting to stop.”

Nobody in the campaign who had really looked at the actual results of the voting believed that they had won. But that reality was no longer relevant. As the Committee reveals: “President Trump’s decision to declare victory falsely on election night and, unlawfully, to call for the vote counting to stop, was not a spontaneous decision. It was premeditated … The evidence also includes an audio recording of President Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon, who said this on October 31, 2020 …

“‘And what Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory, right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. He’s just gonna say he’s a winner … more of our people vote early … Theirs vote in mail. And so they’re gonna have a natural disadvantage, and Trump’s going to take advantage of it … So when you wake up Wednesday morning, it’s going to be a firestorm … because he’s gonna sit right there and say “They stole it. I’m directing the Attorney General to shut down all ballot places in all 50 states.” It’s going to be, no, he’s not going out easy … if Biden’s winning, Trump is going to do some crazy shit.’”

(Emphasis added.)

Here’s Roger Stone: “I really do suspect it will still be up in the air. When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. No, we won. Fuck you, Sorry. Over. We won. You’re wrong. Fuck you.” (Emphasis added.)

One way or the other, Trump was going to win. As it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be an electoral victory, it had to be a victory by any means necessary.

The Committee outlines the multi part effort of the Trump campaign to make that happen: “Beginning election night and continuing through January 6th and thereafter, Donald Trump purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud … to overturn the election and for purposes of soliciting contributions. These false claims provoked his supporters to violence on January 6th.”

An example the Committee offers to show “the very stark differences between what he was being told and what he said publicly” Page 22, Executive Summary. Highlighting added.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr testified: “And I repeatedly told the President in no uncertain terms that I did not see evidence of fraud, you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election. And, frankly, a year and a half later, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on that.” (Emphasis added.)

The report continues: “Former Trump Campaign lawyer Alex Cannon, who was asked to oversee incoming information about voter fraud and set up a voter fraud tip line, told the Select Committee … ‘So I remember a call with Mr. Meadows … And I remember sharing with him that we weren’t finding anything that would be sufficient to change the results in any of the key States.’”

Then, “Knowing that he and his supporters had lost dozens of election lawsuits … Donald Trump refused to accept the lawful result of the 2020 election. Rather than honor his constitutional obligation to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,’ President Trump instead plotted to overturn the election outcome.”

Claiming the election was stolen, Trump summoned his supporters to Washington for January 6:

Donald Trump’s call for his followers to come to Washington on January 6.

The Committee’s report explicitly lays out Trump’s role in attempting to overthrow the election: “Despite knowing that such an action would be illegal, and that no State had or would submit an altered electoral slate, Donald Trump corruptly pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes during Congress’s joint session on January 6th …

“Donald Trump sought to corrupt the U.S. Department of Justice by attempting to enlist Department officials to make purposely false statements and thereby aid his effort to overturn the Presidential election. After that effort failed, Donald Trump offered the position of Acting Attorney General to Jeff Clark knowing that Clark intended to disseminate false information aimed at overturning the election …

“Without any evidentiary basis and contrary to State and Federal law, Donald Trump unlawfully pressured State officials and legislators to change the results of the election in their States …

“Donald Trump oversaw an effort to obtain and transmit false electoral certificates to Congress and the National Archives …

“Donald Trump pressured Members of Congress to object to valid slates of electors from several States.”

The Committee explains: “To understand the plan President Trump devised with attorney and law professor John Eastman, it is necessary to understand the constitutional structure for selecting our President …

“Article II of our Constitution, as modified by the Twelfth Amendment, governs election of the President. Article II created the electoral college, providing that the States would select electors in the manner provided by State legislatures, and those electors would in turn vote for the President. Today, every State selects Presidential electors by popular vote, and each State’s laws provide for procedures to resolve election disputes, including through lawsuits if necessary. After any election issues are resolved in State or Federal court, each State’s government transmits a certificate of the ascertainment of the appointed electors to Congress and the National Archives. The electoral college meets in mid-December to cast their votes, and all of these electoral votes are then ultimately counted by Congress on January 6th. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the joint session of Congress to count votes … The person having the greatest number of votes for President shall be the President …’

“As January 6th approached, John Eastman and others devised a plan whereby Vice President Pence would, as the presiding officer, declare that certain electoral votes from certain States could not be counted at the joint session … John Eastman knew before proposing this plan that it was not legal … Eastman nevertheless drafted memoranda … proposing that Pence could do exactly that on January 6th — refuse to count certified electoral votes from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin …

“Contemporaneous written correspondence also confirms both that: (1) Eastman himself recognized Pence could not lawfully refuse to count electoral votes, and (2) President Trump also knew this …” (Emphasis added.)

Remarkably, “late in the evening before the January 6th Joint Session, President Trump dictated to Jason Miller a statement falsely asserting, ‘The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.’ This statement was released at President Trump’s direction and was false.

“Thereafter, Trump continued to apply public pressure in a series of tweets. At 1:00 a.m. on January 6th …” One such tweet that is referenced in the report is shown below.

Donald Trump’s tweet from 1 a.m. on January 6 falsely asserting Mike Pence’s power.

“At 8:17 a.m. on January 6th, he tweeted again: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage! …”

Later, “the President called Vice President Pence a ‘wimp,’ told him it would be ‘a political career killer’ to certify the lawful electoral votes electing President Biden, and accused him of ‘not [being] tough enough to make the call.’”

The Committee also addressed both the successes and failures of the intelligence community. Yes, they were aware of the potential for violence, especially from the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and informed the Secret Service and the National Security Council. But, tragically, the intelligence community was unaware of how extensive the conspiracy to wage an insurrection really was.

While so many of us watched the riot live on television, almost no one really appreciated the secret plan that the President had to incite and urge the crowd he had summoned to march to the Capitol, and his intention to join them. Not to peacefully protest as Trump’s attorney maintained in his defense during the second impeachment, but to prevent the certification of Joe Biden to replace him. What might have appeared on the surface as a demonstration spontaneously morphing into a riot—and what might, in fact, have felt exactly like that for so many of those who found themselves at the Capitol—was, in fact, a planned insurrection.

And while some in the intelligence community might not have known or suspected Donald Trump’s plan to lead the insurrection, those close to the President surely did. Here’s Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony of June 28, 2022 before the Committee:

LIZ CHENEY: “Ms. Hutchinson, do you remember Mr. Giuliani meeting with Mr. Meadows on January 2, 2021?”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “I do. He met with Mr. Meadows in the evening of January 2, 2021 … [And] as Mr. Giuliani and I were walking to his vehicles that evening, he looked at me and said something to the effect of, Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It’s going to be a great day. I remember looking at him saying, Rudy, could you explain what’s happening on the 6th? He had responded something to the effect of, we’re going to the Capitol. It’s going to be great. The President’s going to be there. He’s going to look powerful. He’s—he’s going to be with the members. He’s going to be with the Senators. Talk to the chief about it, talk to the chief about it. He knows about it

“[So] I went back up to our office and I found Mr. Meadows in his office on the couch … I remember leaning against the doorway and saying, I just had an interesting conversation with Rudy, Mark. It sounds like we’re going to go to the Capitol. He didn’t look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, there’s a lot going on, Cass, but I don’t know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6th.” (Emphasis added.)

Liz Cheney played video of Hutchinson’s testimony from the Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue in which he says, “And we knew that if you have tens of thousands of very obsessive people showing up in Washington DC that there was potential for violence,” and Hutchinson responded, I recall hearing the word Oath Keeper and hearing the word Proud Boys closer to the planning of the January 6th rally when Mr. Giuliani would be around.”

Cheney then continued with her questioning.

LIZ CHENEY: “There are reports that police in Washington, DC had arrested several people with firearms or ammunition following a separate pro-Trump rally in Freedom Plaza on the evening of January 5th. Are those some of the reports that you recall hearing about?”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “They are.”

LIZ CHENEY: “Of course, the world now knows that the people who attacked the Capitol on January 6th had many different types of weapons. When a President speaks, the Secret Service typically requires those attending to pass through metal detectors known as magnetometers, or mags for short. The Select Committee has learned that people who willingly entered the enclosed area for President Trump’s speech were screened so they could attend the rally at the Ellipse. They had weapons and other items that were confiscated: pepper spray, knives, brass knuckles, tasers, body armor, gas masks, batons, blunt weapons. And those were just from the people who chose to go through the security for the President’s event on the Ellipse, not the several thousand members of the crowd who refused to go through the mags and watched from the lawn near the Washington Monument …

“Ms. Hutchinson, in prior testimony you described for us a meeting in the White House around 10 a.m. in the morning of January 6th involving Chief of Staff Meadows and [former Deputy Chief of Staff] Tony Ornato. Were you in that meeting?”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “I was.”

In a video played by Representative Cheney, Hutchinson described the meeting: “I recall Tony and I having a conversation with Mark probably around 10 a.m., 10:15 a.m. where I remember Tony mentioning knives, guns in the form of pistols and rifles, bear spray, body armor, spears, and flagpoles … Mark was sitting on his couch and on his phone which was something typical. And I remember Tony just got right into it … And I remember distinctly Mark not looking up from his phone, right? … I almost said, Mark, did you hear him? And then Mark chimed in. It was like, Alright, anything else? Still looking down at his phone. And Tony looked at me and I looked at Tony and he—Tony said no, Sir … And I looked at Tony and I was like, Sir he just told you about what was happening down at the rallies. And he was like yeah, yeah. I know. And then he looked up and said have you talked to the President? And Tony said yes, Sir. He’s aware. And he said Alright. Good …”

LIZ CHENEY: “… So Miss Hutchinson, is it your understanding that Mr. Ornato told the President about weapons at the rally on the morning of January 6th?”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “That’s what Mr. Ornato relayed to me …”

LIZ CHENEY: “Ms. Hutchinson, we’re going to show now an exchange of texts between you and Deputy Chief of Staff Ornato. And these text messages were exchanged while you were at the ellipse. In one text you write: But the crowd looks good from this vantage point. As long as we get the shot. He was effing furious. And the text messages also stress that President Trump kept mentioning the OTR, an off the record movement … first of all, who it is in the text who was furious?”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “The he in that text that I was referring to was the President … He was furious because he wanted the arena that we had on the ellipse to be maxed out at capacity for all attendees. The advanced team had relayed to him that the mags were free flowing. Everybody who wanted to come in had already come in. But he still was angry about the extra space and wanted more people to come in.”

Representative Cheney once again played a recording from Hutchinson’s earlier testimony in which she said, “[H]e was very concerned about the shot, meaning the photograph that we would get … and he was angry that we weren’t letting people through the mags with weapons … I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the President say something to the effect of, ‘you know, I—I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take that effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away.'” (Emphasis added.)

The Committee’s report notes: “Secret Service confiscated a haul of weapons from the 28,000 spectators who did pass through the magnetometers: 242 cannisters of pepper spray, 269 knives or blades, 18 brass knuckles, 18 tasers, 6 pieces of body armor, 3 gas masks, 30 batons or blunt instruments, and 17 miscellaneous items like scissors, needles, or screwdrivers. And thousands of others purposely remained outside the magnetometers, or left their packs outside.”

Which brings us to Donald Trump’s speech in which he reportedly  “went off-script five different times to pressure the Vice President”: “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.” Then, addressing Pence directly, he said, “Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country … And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories … So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do. And I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to.”

Clearly, Donald Trump put a target on Mike Pence’s back. And so the gallows that appeared before the Capitol wasn’t just about political theatre. The crowd that chanted “Hang Mike Pence” would have loved to use that gallows, evidenced by reactions from the crowd highlighted in the Committee’s report:

“I’m hearing reports that Pence caved … No way. I’m telling you, if Pence caved, we’re going to drag motherfuckers through the streets. You fucking politicians are going to get fucking drug through the streets.”

“Pence voted against Trump … That’s when we marched on the Capitol.”

“We just heard that Mike Pence is not going to reject any fraudulent electoral votes … Mike Pence has betrayed this President and he has betrayed the people of the United States and we will never, ever forget. [Cheers]”

“Bring out Pence. Bring him out …”

“Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.”

Back to Representative Cheney and Cassidy Hutchinson:

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “I had two or three phone conversations with Mr. Ornato when we were at the ellipse. And then I had four men on Mr. Meadows’ detail with me … They’re getting notifications through their radios and Mr. Ornato on one phone conversation had called me and said make sure the Chief knows that they’re—they’re getting close to the Capitol … It was becoming clear to us and to the Secret Service that Capitol Police officers were getting overrun at the security barricades outside of the Capitol building … after I had the conversation with Mr. Ornato I went to have the discussion with Mr. Meadows. He was in a secure vehicle at the time making a call … I went to open the door to let him know and he had immediately shut it …”

LIZ CHENEY: “And when you finally were able to give Mr. Meadows the information about the violence at the Capitol, what was his reaction?”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “He almost had a lack of reaction. I remember him saying Alright, something to the effect of how much longer does the President have left in this speech?”

LIZ CHENEY: “… Were you aware of concerns that White House counsel Pat Cipollone or Eric Herschmann had about the language President Trump used in his ellipse speech?”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “… In my conversations with Mr. Herschmann, he had relayed that we would be foolish to include language that had been included at the President’s request, which had lines along—to the effect of fight for Trump. We’re going to march the Capitol.

“I’ll be there with you. Fight for me. Fight for what we’re doing. Fight for the movement. Things about the Vice President at the time too. Both Mr. Herschmann and White House counsel’s office were urging the speechwriters to not include that language for legal concerns, and also for the optics of what it could portray the president wanting to do that day.”

LIZ CHENEY: “… We’ve heard you use two different terms to describe plans for the president’s movement to the Capitol or anywhere else.

“One of those is a scheduled movement and another one is OTR. Could you describe for us what each of those means?”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “A scheduled presidential movement is on his official schedule … It’s known to the public, known to the Secret Service, and they’re able to coordinate the movement days in advance. An off the record movement is confined to the knowledge of a very, very small group of advisers and staff … mostly [those] that are just included in the national security package. You can pull an off to—off the record movement together in less than an hour. It’s a way to kind of circumvent having to release it to the press … On January 3rd, Mr. Cipollone had approached me knowing that Mark had raised the prospect of going up to the Capitol on January 6th. Mr. Cipollone and I had a brief private conversation where he said to me we need to make sure that this doesn’t happen. This would be a legally a terrible idea for us … And he then urged me to continue relaying that to Mr. Meadows, because it’s my understanding that Mr. Cipollone thought that Mr. Meadows was indeed pushing this, along with the president.”

LIZ CHENEY: “And we understand, Ms. Hutchinson, that you also spoke to Mr. Cipollone on the morning of the 6th … and Mr. Cipollone said something to you like make sure the movement to the Capitol does not happen …”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “… I saw Mr. Cipollone right before I walked out onto West Exec that morning, and Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.”

LIZ CHENEY: “And do you remember which crimes Mr. Cipollone was concerned with?”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “… Pat was concerned it would look like we were obstructing justice or obstructing the Electoral College count. And I apologize for probably not being so very clear with my legal terms here, but that it would look like we were obstructing what was happening on Capitol Hill.

“And he was also worried that it would look like we were inciting a riot or encouraging a riot to erupt on the Capitol—at the Capitol.”

LIZ CHENEY: “When the president said that he would be going to the Capitol during his speech on the Ellipse, the Secret Service scrambled to find a way for him to go … When President Trump left the Ellipse stage at 1:10, the staff knew that rioters had invaded the inaugural stage and Capitol Police were calling for all available officers to respond …”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “… I know that there were discussions about him having another speech outside of the Capitol before going in. I know that there was a conversation about him going into the House chamber at one point … [And] When I returned to the White House, I walked upstairs towards the chief of staff’s office, and I noticed Mr. Ornato lingering outside of the office … he quickly waved me to go into his office, which was just across the hall from mine … and I noticed Bobby Engel, who was the head of Mr. Trump’s security detail, sitting in a chair, just looking somewhat discombobulated and a little lost.

“… Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in the beast … he thought that they were going up to the Capitol. And when Bobby had relayed to him we’re not, we don’t have the assets to do it, it’s not secure, we’re going back to the West Wing … The president said something to the effect of I’m the f’ing president, take me up to the Capitol now, to which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing. The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel … Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel. And Mr.—when Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles …”

LIZ CHENEY: “Did Mr. Engel correct or disagree with any part of this story from Mr. Ornato? …”

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: “Neither Mr. Ornato nor Mr. Engel told me ever that it was untrue.”

Then at 2:24 p.m. on January 6, President Trump tweeted:

Donald Trump’s tweet, January 6, 2021, 2:24 p.m.

A rioter commented, “Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like officially, the crowd went crazy. I mean, it became a mob. We crossed the gate.” Almost immediately thereafter, the crowd around the Capitol surged, and more individuals joined the effort to confront police. The insurrection had turned bloody.

“One minute after the President’s tweet, at 2:25 p.m., the Secret Service determined they could no longer protect the Vice President in his ceremonial office near the Senate Chamber, and evacuated the Vice President and his family to a secure location, missing the violent mob by a mere 40 feet.”

The Report continues: “Knowing that violence was underway at the Capitol, and despite his duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, Donald Trump refused repeated requests over a multiple hour period that he instruct his violent supporters to disperse and leave the Capitol, and instead watched the violent attack unfold on television. This failure to act perpetuated the violence at the Capitol and obstructed Congress’s proceeding to count electoral votes.”

His lust for power was matched by his greed: “Evidence gathered by the Committee indicates that President Trump raised roughly one quarter of a billion dollars between the election and January 6th. Those solicitations persistently claimed and referred to election fraud that did not exist.”

As for those who believed the Big Lie and followed his lead: “On October 31, 2022, in a Federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., Graydon Young testified against Stewart Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers militia group. The defendants had been charged with seditious conspiracy against the United States and other crimes related to the January 6, 2021, attack on Congress … Young explained to the jury how he and other Oath Keepers were provoked to travel to Washington by President Donald Trump’s tweets and by Trump’s false claims that the 2020 Presidential election was ‘stolen’ from him … Reflecting on that day more than a year and half later, Young testified: ‘Today I feel extremely ashamed and embarrassed’ … ‘I guess I was [acting] like a traitor, somebody against my own government.’”

The Committee offered comments from other rioters: “Reimler: ‘And I’m sorry to the people of this country for threatening the democracy that makes this country so great … My participation in the events that day were part of an attack on the rule of law.’”

“Pert: ‘I know that the peaceful transition of power is to ensure the common good for our nation and that it is critical in protecting our country’s security needs. I am truly sorry for my part and accept full responsibility for my actions.’”

“Markofski: ‘My actions put me on the other side of the line from my brothers in the Army. The wrong side. Had I lived in the area, I would have been called up to defend the Capitol and restore order … My actions brought dishonor to my beloved U.S. Army National Guard.’”

The Committee notes, “Hundreds of Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan police officers performed their duties bravely on January 6th, and America owes those individuals immense gratitude for their courage in the defense of Congress and our Constitution. Without their bravery, January 6th would have been far worse.”

While these officers risked and some lost their lives: “President Trump had authority and responsibility to direct deployment of the National Guard in the District of Columbia, but never gave any order to deploy the National Guard on January 6th or on any other day. Nor did he instruct any Federal law enforcement agency to assist …”

Additionally, testimony reveals President Trump knew about the rioters’ anger at Vice President Mike Pence. Cassidy Hutchinson recounted that Pat Cipollone told Mark Meadows: “‘Mark, we need to do something more. They’re literally calling for the Vice President to be f’ing hung.’ And Mark had responded something to the effect of, ‘You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.'”

At 4:17 p.m. on January 6, 187 minutes after finishing his speech at the Ellipse, President Trump finally broadcast a video message in which he asked his supporters to leave the Capitol:

“I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now. We have to have peace.”

At 6:01 p.m., President Trump sent his last tweet of the day, not condemning the violence, but instead attempting to justify it:

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred election landslide victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

As of a few days ago, 964 people have been charged and nearly 500 have been convicted or have pleaded guilty for their participation in the Capitol insurrection. On March 7, 2022, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published the results of a report they prepared on the Capitol attack, including a survey they conducted with Capitol Police officers. And while only 20 percent of the officers responded to the survey, the results offered some important details into how many officers were attacked and injured:

GAO Survey of Capitol Police officers’ experience on January 6, 2021.

Finally, “taking all of these facts into account, and based on the breadth of the evidence it has accumulated,” the Committee made the following criminal referrals to the Department of Justice’s Special Counsel:

I. Obstruction of an Official Proceeding (18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)) — Section 1512(c)(2) of Title 18 of the United States Code makes it a crime to “corruptly” “obstruct, influence, or impede any official proceeding, or attempt to do so.”

II. Conspiracy to Defraud the United States (18 U.S.C. § 371) — Section 371 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code provides that “[i]f two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” The Committee believes sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of President Trump and others under this statute.

III. Conspiracy to Make a False Statement (18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1001) — President Trump, through others acting at his behest, submitted slates of fake electors to Congress and the National Archives. Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code applies, in relevant part, to “whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—

  1. falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
  2. makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
  3. makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry.”

IV. “Incite,” “Assist” or “Aid and Comfort” an Insurrection (18 U.S.C. § 2383) — Section 2383 of Title 18 of the United States Code applies to anyone who “incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto.” The Committee recognizes that §2383 does not require evidence of an “agreement” between President Trump and the violent rioters to establish a violation of that provision; instead, the President need only have incited, assisted or aided and comforted those engaged in violence or other lawless activity in an effort to prevent the peaceful transition of the Presidency under our Constitution.

Insurrection: the act of rising against civil authority or governmental restraint; specifically, the armed resistance of a number of persons to the power of the state; incipient or limited rebellion.

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