Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ultimately, President Trump did not succeed in bending State and Federal officials to his will. At every turn, State officials, the Department of Justice, Mike Pence, and many others stood up for the rule of law and resisted the President’s wishes. In that way, our American institutions held after the 2020 election.
But that did not stop President Trump. Instead, he turned to his supporters, those who believed his lies about a stolen election. He summoned a crowd to the Nation’s capital on January 6th, hoping that they would pressure Congress to do what he could not do on his own.
The Select Committee has made the following findings on this issue.
Two years ago today, in the early morning hours of December 19th, Donald Trump sent a tweet urging his supporters to travel to Washington for a protest on January 6th. “Be there, will be wild!” he tweeted.
Between December 19th and January 6th, the President repeatedly encouraged his supporters to come to Washington.
The President’s December 19th tweet galvanized domestic violent extremists, including members of the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and organized militia groups. These individuals began organizing to come to the capital in large numbers with the specific intent to use violence to disrupt the certification of the election during the joint session.
Prior to January 6th, the FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police, D.C. government, and other law enforcement agencies gathered substantial evidence suggesting the risk of violence at the Capitol during the joint session. These included warnings like the following:
“Their plan is to literally kill people. Please, please take this tip seriously and investigate further.”
“President Trump supporters have proposed a movement to occupy Capitol Hill.”
“Alert regarding the VP being a dead man walking if he doesn’t do the right thing.”
“I saw several other alerts saying they will storm the Capitol if he doesn’t do the right thing.”
In the days leading up to January 6th, President Trump’s advisors explicitly told him that he should encourage his supporters to be peaceful that day. But he refused.
One witness, Hope Hicks, provided the Committee with records of her text messages on January 6th. In one exchange with another staffer, he texted her, “Hey. I know you’re seeing this. But he,” referring to President Trump, “really should tweet something about [b]eing NON-violent.”
“I’m not there,” Hicks replied. “I suggested it several times Monday and Tuesday and he refused.”
When Ms. Hicks came in to provide testimony to the Committee, we asked her about this exchange. Her explanation is that the “he” in this text wasn’t the President but, rather, it was Eric Herschmann.
Take a listen to her testimony.
Mr. WOOD. When you wrote, “I suggested it several times”—and the “it” presumably means that the President say something about being non-violent. You wrote, “I suggested it several times Monday and Tuesday and he refused.” Tell us what happened.
Ms. HICKS. Sure. I didn’t speak to the President about this directly, but I communicated to people like Eric Herschmann that it was my view that it was important that the President put out some kind of message in advance of the event.
Mr. WOOD. And what was Mr. Hirschman’s response?
Ms. HICKS. Mr. Herschmann said that he had made the same, you know, recommendation directly to the President and that he had refused.
Mr. WOOD. Just so I understand, Mr. Herschmann said that he had already recommended to the President that the President convey a message that people should be peaceful on January 6th, and the President had refused to do that?
Ms. HICKS. Yes.
The public will be able to review this in the transcripts and see the perspective Eric Herschmann gave before we took Hope Hicks’s testimony.
Despite having knowledge of the threats of violence presented by the crowd gathered on January 6th, President Trump gave an incendiary speech, declaring without basis that the election had been stolen and encouraging his supporters to “fight like hell.”
During the speech and immediately thereafter, President Trump stated his intention to travel to the Capitol with his supporters in an effort to influence the joint session.
The Select Committee has developed evidence indicating that President Trump did, in fact, intend to go to the Capitol on the afternoon of January 6th and that he repeatedly expressed that intention during the afternoon and in the days prior.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
House of Representatives, One Hundred Seventeenth Congress, Second Session. (Dec. 19, 2022). Meeting of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. U.S. Government Printing Office. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-117hhrg50119/pdf/CHRG-117hhrg50119.pdf.