New Report Details How Donald Trump Resisted Pleas to Stop Capitol Rioters: 'People Will Die'

A new investigation by The Washington Post details how many of Trump's closest advisers sought to have the president publicly condemn the mob of his supporters

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Rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty

As his own supporters breached the U.S. Capitol and began ransacking the seat of American democracy on Jan. 6, then-President Donald Trump remained holed up in his dining room. There, he watched the increasingly violent scene play out on television and resisted calls from those closest to him to urge the rioters to disperse, instead stewing over his recent electoral loss.

That's the scene painted in a sprawling new hour-by-hour investigation by The Washington Post, which retraces how Trump resisted the efforts of everyone from his chief of staff to his daughter and adviser Ivanka, who urged him to do something to put a halt to the mayhem.

Before the rioting broke out, President Trump had publicly pressured his own vice president, Mike Pence, to somehow use his position to overturn the 2020 election results when Congress met to ratify now-President Joe Biden's victory on Jan. 6.

Speaking at a rally held shortly before before the mob at the Capitol turned violent, Trump encouraged his supporters to march to where Congress had convened. Though he said they should be peaceful, he also said they needed to "fight like hell" and risked losing their country.

The rest is history: At the Capitol, a swarm of Trump supporters overwhelmed law enforcement and occupied the Capitol complex, forcing Pence and other lawmakers to be quickly evacuated and placed under lockdown.

According to the Post's new reporting, as the situation began to spiral many in Trump's orbit tried to reach the president to encourage him to put out a statement condemning the violence.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump. James Devaney/GC Images

Among those who attempted to get the attention of the president were spokeswoman Alyssa Farah, whom the Post reports called and texted her then-boss, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, urging him to tell Trump to denounce the chaos before it got worst.

"If someone doesn't say something, people will die," one of Farah's messages read, per the Post.

The paper reports that Pence's national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, made a similar entreaty, at one point telling Trump: "You need to tweet something. … Once mobs get moving, you can't turn them off. Once they start rolling, it's hard to bring it under control. But you've got to get on top of this and say something."

Ivanka, meanwhile, went back and forth between her own office on the second floor of the West Wing and the president's dining room, working with Meadows to try and persuade him to get the rioters under control, according to the Post.

As the rioters breached the building, Trump was confronted by others, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whom several outlets have reported shouted at the president over the phone to call off the rioters.

Trump wasn't entirely silent during the first hour after the rioters breached the building. He published two tweets — one calling on the group to "stay peaceful!" and another requesting "no violence!" — though those closest to him thought that the statements didn't go far enough.

Still, Trump resisted calls to release something more strongly-worded, even when adviser Jason Miller drafted two tweets from the president's account falsely claiming that "crazed leftists" were to blame for the violence. When asked about posting either of those drafts, Trump said no to both, the Post reports.

Trump still had not publicly addressed the nation at 4:05 p.m., when President-elect Biden spoke publicly from Wilmington, Delaware.

As the Post reports, senators watching Biden's speech from a secure room at the Capitol complex applauded when it aired.

"It was like, wow, we have a leader who said what needed to be said," Republican Sen. Mitt Romney told the paper.

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Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump in January. Samuel Corum/Getty

Trump's first speech came just minutes later, posting on Twitter at 4:17 p.m. As the Post reports, it required at least three takes — Trump kept going off-script, telling those ransacking the Capitol, "We love you. You're very special," and urging them to "go home."

At least five people died in connection with the rioting. Numerous people have since been charged.

By 6 p.m., the situation had been mostly contained and the National Guard had moved in. Trump, though, continued to send messages that even his allies — like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — would later call "bad."

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"These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long," Trump tweeted at 6:01 p.m, in a post that helped prompt his ban from the platform. "Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!"

Over the next few hours, lawmakers came back to the building, and Pence began presiding over the vote to certify Biden's electoral win. Even then, Trump was not dissuaded. Per the Post, an attorney advising him emailed Pence's counsel "around 9 p.m. to try to convince the vice president to move to not certify the election results."

Pence's attorney reportedly did not respond to the email.

Since leaving office in January, Trump has continued to falsely claim the election was stolen from him, even doubling down on his blame of Pence in a statement released after the riots, claiming that the former vice president lacked "courage."

Pence, meanwhile, has said of the two: "I don't know if we'll ever see eye-to-eye on that day."

A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment on the Post report. According to the Post, his office dismissed their findings as "fake news" and said the rioters were "agitators" unconnected to him.

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