Elaine Luria

Opening Statement at the Tenth Public Hearing of the January 6th Select Committee – Dec. 19, 2022

Elaine Luria
December 19, 2022— Washington, D.C.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

All of President Trump’s efforts came to a head on the afternoon of January 6th. Standing on the stage of the Ellipse, President Trump told tens of thousands of angry supporters that the election was stolen, that they had the power to change that if they marched to the Capitol, and that they wouldn’t have a country anymore if the Presidency was taken away him. He told them he would be there with them. Then, as the crowd descended on the Capitol, President Trump watched it on television.

Despite pleas from his senior advisors, from lawmakers on the Hill, and from his own children, President Trump would not issue a public statement instructing his supporters to disperse and leave the Capitol.

Mr. Trump’s failures span the period from 1:10 p.m., when his speech ended and he instructed his supporters to march to the Capitol, to 4:17 p.m., when he finally begrudgingly told his supporters to go home.

For 187 minutes, he actively disregarded his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. As we have established through months of investigation, that is because the mob wanted what President Trump wanted: to impede the peaceful transition of power.

These are the Select Committee’s findings about President Trump’s dereliction of duty.

From the outset of the violence and for several hours that followed, people at the Capitol, people inside President Trump’s administration, elected officials of both parties, members of President Trump’s own family, and even Fox News commentators who were sympathetic to President Trump all tried to contact the White House to urge him to do one singular thing, the one thing that all of these people immediately understood was required: instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol.

The President repeatedly refused pleas, as he watched the violence at the Capitol on television.

During the day, the President never spoke with National Guard, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, or any law enforcement agency. At no point during the day, or any other, did he issue any order to deploy any law enforcement agency to assist.

Multiple witnesses, including President Trump’s White House Counsel, testified to these facts. You heard White House employees who had been speaking directly with President Trump state that “he didn’t want anything done.”

The President was making phone calls that afternoon, but they weren’t to law enforcement officials. Rather, President Trump continued to call his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Both President Trump and Mr. Giuliani spoke with congressional leaders, even after the violence had begun, to encourage them to continue delaying the session.

Approximately 3 hours after being informed of the violence at the Capitol—hours during which, as our evidence has shown, Donald Trump sat in his dining room and watched the violence on television—the President released a video statement, in which he again repeated that the election was stolen, told his supporters at the Capitol that he loved them, and ultimately suggested that they disperse.

This statement had an immediate impact on elements of the crowd, many of whom have testified that it led them to depart the Capitol.

At 6:01 p.m., President Trump sent his last tweet of the day. He did not condemn the violence. Instead, he attempted to justify it.

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away,” he wrote. “Remember this day forever!”

There is no doubt that President Trump thought that the actions of the rioters were justified. In the days after January 6th, he spoke to several different advisors, and in those conversations, he minimized the seriousness of the attack.

Here is new testimony from another one of the President’s senior advisors, Kellyanne Conway.

Mr. GEORGE. You said you talked to the President the next day. Tell us about that conversation on the 7th.

Ms. CONWAY. Yes. I don’t think it was very long. I just said, that was just a terrible day, I’m working on a long statement. I said it’s crazy.

Mr. GEORGE. What did he say?

Ms. CONWAY. “No, these people are upset. They’re very upset.”

In the days following the attack, President Trump also expressed a desire to pardon those involved in the attack. Since then, he has suggested that he will do so if he returns to the Oval Office.

In summary, President Trump lit the flame, he poured gasoline on the fire, and sat by in the White House dining room for hours watching the fire burn. Today, he still continues to fan those flames. That was his extreme dereliction of duty.

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.