After telling his supporters at a rally earlier that day to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell,” Trump “gleefully” watched the violence unfold on TV from the White House dining room, his former press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN. He gushed: “Have a look at all the people fighting for me,” she recounted.
Trump “hit rewind” for some sections of the riot on a recorded TV program to look at them again, said Grisham, who was first lady Melania Trump’s press secretary and chief of staff on the time.
Grisham, who was interviewed by Jan. 6 investigators, said she quit her job after she asked the primary lady that day if she would tweet a message asking rioters to face down. Her boss flatly responded “no,” in accordance with Grisham.
One other possible witness who may appear is former White House press aide Sarah Matthews, who said in a portion of a videotaped statement aired in an earlier hearing that she was stunned when Trump attacked Pence in a tweet mid-riot. Matthews said the message was like “pouring gasoline on the hearth.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the House select committee, said at Tuesday’s hearing that Trump had attempted to talk on the phone with a committee witness who had yet to look (and should be on the roster for Thursday). Trump’s motion appeared to be an try and influence the unidentified “support staff” witness, Cheney suggested.
Several people, including Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News host Sean Hannity, reached out to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Jan. 6 to plead with him to influence Trump to make an announcement calling on the rioters to face down and go home. Ivanka Trump reportedly personally appealed to her father at the very least twice that day to inform rioters to go home.
Meadows’ former assistant Cassidy Hutchinson testified earlier this month that a panicky Cipollone told Meadows that the mob was “literally calling” for Pence to “be f-ing hung.” When Meadows replied that Trump believed “Mike deserves it,” Hutchinson testified, Cipollone replied: “That is f-ing crazy.”
Trump never reached out to Pence, nor did he call for the National Guard or police reinforcements that day.
Trump finally recorded a video, 187 minutes after the violent eruption, telling his supporters to go home, adding: “We love you. You’re very special.”