187 Minutes: Jan. 6 Witnesses Describe What Trump Did — and Didn't Do — While Riot Raged at Capitol

"Those on Capitol Hill and across the nation begged President Trump to help," Rep. Elaine Luria said at a Jan. 6 hearing, "but the former president chose not to do what all of those people begged"

House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building
Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty

The House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 presented evidence at Thursday's primetime hearing about what President Donald Trump did during 187 minutes while the U.S. Capitol was under attack by a mob of his angry supporters.

But what he didn't do — call for an end to the violence, as advisors pleaded — amounts to a dereliction of duty, the committee argued in its final scheduled televised hearing.

"For 187 minutes on Jan. 6, this man of unbridled destructive energy could not be moved," Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Miss. Democrat who serves as the chairman of the committee, said in opening remarks via video. "Not by his aides, not by his allies, not by the violent chant of rioters, or the desperate pleas of those facing down the mob. He could not be moved."

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Rep. Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat and former Navy officer, said the committee heard testimony indicating that Trump found out about violence soon after he arrived at the White House after giving a speech to supporters and telling them to march to the Capitol.

"Within 15 minutes of leaving the stage," she said, "President Trump knew that the Capitol was besieged."

For the next few hours, the committee's evidence shows that "virtually everyone" around the president told him "to condemn the violence in clear and unmistakable terms," according to Luria.

"Those on Capitol Hill and across the nation begged President Trump to help," she continued, "but the former president chose not to do what all of those people begged."

US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing Harlingen, Texas on January 12, 2021
Donald Trump. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

Images showing the layout of the White House flashed on the screen during the presentation on Thursday to show viewers how close the Oval Office is to a dining room, where Trump sat and "watched the attack on television while his senior-most staff, closest advisors and family members begged him to do what is expected of any American president," Luria said.

According to witness testimony, Trump was watching Fox News for "more than two-and-a-half hours" as the riot unfolded, interrupting the electoral vote count for the 2020 presidential election that President Joe Biden won and causing members of Congress to flee and hide in fear.

The presidential call log and the daily diary, which keep notes about the president's meetings and appointments, are empty for a two-hour period after the Capitol was breached, Luria told viewers.

A photographer asked to capture images of the president at the White House, arguing the photos would be important for the historical record but she was told, "No photographs," Luria said.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, whose testimony was played on video Thursday, said he made it clear "almost immediately" that the president needed to issue "an immediate and forceful statement" imploring the rioters to leave the Capitol.

"Many people felt the same way," he said, answering affirmatively when asked whether he was joined in that sentiment by Senior Advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner as well as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

It wasn't until later in the afternoon that Trump released a video statement telling the rioters to leave. "I know your pain, I know you're hurt," Trump said in the video. "But you have to go home now, we have to have peace. We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order."

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois and Air Force veteran, explained why he believes, based on evidence, the president didn't act for so long while violence continued, alleging in his comments on Thursday that Trump believed the mob was doing its job.

"What explains President Trump's behavior? Why did he not take immediate action in a time of crisis? Because President Trump's plan for Jan. 6 was to halt or delay Congress's official proceeding to count the votes," Kinzinger said. "The mob attacking the Capitol quickly caused the evacuation of both the House and the Senate and the count ground to an absolute halt and was ultimately delayed for hours. The mob was accomplishing President Trump's purpose, so of course he didn't intervene."

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