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Trump ‘ignited the fire’ of Capitol insurgency

WASHINGTON — The House committee’s January 6 final report says Donald Trump criminally engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the legal results of the 2020 presidential election and failed to act to prevent his supporters to attack the Capitol, concluding an extraordinary 18-month investigation into the former president and the violent insurgency two years ago.

Trump “ignited this fire,” writes the committee’s chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson.

The 814-page report released Thursday night comes after the panel interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, held 10 hearings and obtained more than a million pages of documents. Witnesses – ranging from many of Trump’s closest aides to law enforcement to some of the rioters themselves – detailed Trump’s “premeditated” actions in the weeks leading up to the attack and how his wide-ranging efforts to overturning his defeat directly influenced those who brutally pushed past the police and smashed the windows and doors of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The central cause was “a man,” the report says: Trump.

The insurgency has gravely threatened democracy and ‘put the lives of American lawmakers at risk’, the nine-member bipartisan panel concluded, offering the most definitive account of a dark chapter in American history so far. modern. It functions not only as a compendium of the most dramatic moments of testimony from months of hearings, but also as a document to be preserved for future generations.

In a foreword to the report, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the findings should be a “clarion call to all Americans: to vigilantly protect our democracy and cast our vote only those who are dedicated to the defense of our Constitution”.

The report’s eight chapters tell the story much as the panel hearings did this summer – outlining the many facets of the remarkable plan Trump and his advisers have devised to try to undo President Joe Biden’s victory. Lawmakers describe how the former president pressured states, federal officials, lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to outsmart the system or break the law.

In the two months between the election and the insurgency, the report states that “President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private education, pressure or condemnation, targeting either state legislators, either state or local election administrators, to nullify state election results.”

Trump’s repeated false allegations of widespread voter fraud resonated with his supporters, the committee said, and were amplified on social media, building on the mistrust of government he had maintained during his four years in power. And he did little to stop them when they resorted to violence and stormed the Capitol, interrupting certification of Biden’s victory.

The massive and damning report comes as Trump is running for president again and also faces multiple federal investigations, including inquiries into his role in the insurgency and the presence of classified documents at his Florida estate. This week is a particularly busy one for him, as a House committee said he would release his tax returns after he fought for years to keep them private. And Trump was blamed by Republicans for a worse-than-expected performance in the midterm elections, leaving him in his most politically vulnerable state since being elected in 2016.

In a series of policy recommendations, the committee’s seven Democrats and two Republicans suggest Trump should be barred from future office, noting that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution says anyone who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution can be barred. to exercise his functions for having engaged in an insurrection or a rebellion.

“He is unfit for any position,” wrote the committee’s vice chair, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Posting on his social media site, Trump called the report “highly partisan” and falsely claimed it did not include his Jan. 6 statement that his supporters should protest “peacefully and patriotically.” The committee included that statement, however, and noted that it followed that comment with election lies and loaded language urging the crowd to “fight like hell.”

The report details a slew of law enforcement and intelligence failings, noting that many rioters came armed and had openly planned online violence. “Failure to sufficiently share and act on this information has endangered the lives of the police officers defending the Capitol and all those on it,” the report said.

At the same time, the committee insists that security breaches are not the root cause of the insurgency.

“The President of the United States inciting a mob to march on Capitol Hill and obstruct the work of Congress is not a scenario our intelligence and law enforcement communities envisioned for this country,” Thompson wrote.

“Donald Trump started this fire,” writes Thompson. “But in the weeks leading up to it, the kindling he finally lit was piled up for all to see.”

The report details Trump’s inaction as his loyalists stormed the building, detailing the hours he watched the violence on television but did nothing to stop it.

A White House photographer snapped a photo of Trump at 1:21 p.m. learning of the employee’s riot after he returned to the White House after his speech – and after his own security officials rebuffed his efforts to go to the Capitol himself. “By then, if not earlier, he had been made aware of the violent riot,” the report said.

A total of 187 minutes passed between the time Trump finished his speech at the Ellipse and his first effort to disperse the rioters, through a possible video message in which he asked his supporters to go home even then. that he reassured them: “We love you, you are very special.”

This inaction was a “dereliction of duty,” the report said, noting that Trump had more power than anyone else as the nation’s commander-in-chief. “He willfully remained inactive even as others, including his own vice president, acted.”

During those hours, Pence huddled in the Capitol, pleading with security officials for a quicker response from the National Guard as rioters outside called for his hanging because he would not illegally try. to thwart Biden’s victory. And inside the White House, dozens of staff and associates pleaded with Trump for a forceful statement.

But he did not do it.

“We all look like domestic terrorists now,” Julie Radford, who served as Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff, texted afterward.

The report says “virtually every White House staffer” interviewed by the committee condemned a tweet from Trump at 2:24 p.m. that day — just as rioters stormed into the Capitol — that the vice -President Mike Pence “did not have the guts to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.”

“Attack the VP? Wtf wrong with him,” Hicks texted another colleague that night.

The release of the survey is a final act for House Democrats, who are handing over power to Republicans in less than two weeks and have spent much of their four years in office investigating Trump. Democrats impeached Trump twice, the second time a week after the insurgency. He was acquitted by the Senate both times. Other Democratic-led probes have investigated his finances, businesses, foreign ties and family.

On Monday, the panel formally forwarded its investigation to the Justice Department, recommending that the department investigate the former president for four crimes, including aiding an insurrection. Although the criminal referrals have no legal standing, this is a final statement by the committee after its extensive year-and-a-half investigation.

The committee also began publishing hundreds of transcripts of its interviews. On Thursday, the panel released transcripts of two closed-door interviews with former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified in person at one of the summer’s televised hearings and detailed the actions and Trump’s inaction inside the White House.

In both interviews, both conducted after her June court appearance, Hutchinson described how many of Trump’s allies, including her lawyer, pressured her not to say too much during the interview. his discussions with the committee.


Follow AP coverage of the Capitol insurgency at https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege

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