Texts, Unsent Tweet Suggest Trump’s Inner Circle Planned For Jan. 6 March To Capitol

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is laying out the case that the day's violence was not simply a spontaneous protest that got out of hand.

WASHINGTON ― Former President Donald Trump knew he wanted to send his supporters to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but he didn’t want to broadcast that in advance, according to the House committee investigating the attack on Congress that day.

Trump had previously encouraged his supporters to come to Washington for a protest against his loss in the 2020 presidential election. “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” he tweeted on Dec. 19, 2020. “Be there, will be wild!” But prior to Jan. 6, he hadn’t specified a march to the Capitol.

“The president’s own documents suggest the president had decided to call on his supporters to go to the Capitol on January 6, but he chose not to widely announce it until his speech that morning,” committee member Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) said Tuesday.

Former President Donald Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington for a “wild” protest on Jan. 6, 2021, but he hadn’t specified a march to the Capitol.
Former President Donald Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington for a “wild” protest on Jan. 6, 2021, but he hadn’t specified a march to the Capitol.
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The committee obtained an undated, unsent draft tweet from Trump outlining the upcoming day’s events, which he said would start with a speech and then a march to the Capitol, where lawmakers would be certifying the election result. (The committee had previously subpoenaed White House records from the National Archives.)

“I will be making a Big Speech at 10AM on January 6th at the Ellipse (South of the White House),” Trump wrote in an unsent draft tweet obtained by the committee. “Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the Steal!!”

“Although this tweet was never sent, rally organizers were discussing and preparing for the march to the Capitol in the days leading up to January 6,” Murphy said.

Text messages allegedly sent among rally organizers corroborated the idea that Trump’s inner circle had quietly planned for action at the Capitol. On Jan. 4, one unidentified organizer wrote in a text to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell that “this stays between us” that there would be a march on Congress: “POTUS is just going to call for it, unexpectedly.”

Another text, sent the following day from rally organizer Ali Alexander, said the president is “supposed to order us to the capitol at the end of his speech but we will see.”

Police at the Capitol had expected protesters that day and had surrounded the complex with fences, but they weren’t prepared for the onslaught of Trump supporters who eventually arrived.

In a previous hearing, the House committee heard bombshell testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said she heard the president say on Jan. 6 that he didn’t care about police reports that some of his supporters had brought weapons to his speech.

“I don’t f**ing care that they have weapons,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson. “They’re not here to hurt me.”

During his speech at the Ellipse, Trump told the crowd: “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.”

From the outset, the committee has argued that the attack on the Capitol was not a protest that got out of control, but an intentional effort to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election and keep Trump in the White House illegitimately. The primary documents displayed in the committee room Tuesday bolstered the committee’s case that Trump was following a plan.

“The evidence confirms this was not a spontaneous call to action, but rather was a deliberate strategy decided upon in advance by the president,” Murphy said.

The committee’s seventh day of testimony centered on Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet ― “Be there, will be wild!” ― arguing that it was the catalyst for organizing violent protests at the Capitol by right-wing extremists.

Committee members also presented testimony from White House lawyers and campaign advisers about a chaotic Dec. 18 meeting where Trump discussed signing an executive order to seize voting machines and making Sidney Powell, a conspiracy theorist and his personal attorney, a White House special counsel. Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone said he pushed back against ideas for further contesting the election after dozens of court challenges had flopped.

Additionally, the committee heard live testimony from Jason Van Tatenhove, a former Oath Keepers spokesperson, and Stephen Ayres, a Trump supporter from Warren, Ohio, who attended the rally at the Ellipse and was later criminally charged with breaching the Capitol.

Ayres said he did not intend to go to the Capitol when he first came to Washington, but that he did so at Trump’s urging.

“The president got everybody riled up, told everybody to head on down,” Ayres said. “So we basically, we just followed what he said.”

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