In A Dark Place ‘: Trump Saints Day Increased Secession and Anger, Before Condemning Violence

WASHINGTON – President Trump called the storm of US Capitol a “heinous attack” by a crowd of his supporters late Thursday and said he would face bipartisan criticism for his response to the riot and to increase his pressure on January 20 Will leave office in peace. Removal.

In the nearly three-minute video, Mr. Trump acknowledged no responsibility for the riots, which followed a rally after the president urged supporters to capitulate and “fight”. He warned the rioters, “For those who break the law, you will pay.”

The video, tweeted shortly after 7 pm, was followed by pressure from advisers to react more forcefully to the riots in Capitol, killing five people, including a Capitol police officer. Several of his closest advisers have publicly condemned his reaction to the violence, and White House counsel Pat Cipollon warned the president that he risked riot-related legal risks, according to a person familiar with the conversation .

The president spent the day in the White House without access to social media accounts, which helped bring him to power, as advisers described him as increasingly angry and isolated. His Twitter account was shut down for a period and Facebook banned him from its platform, citing posts that incited companies to violence or undermined the electoral process.

In a brief statement, White House press secretary Kayle McNee on Thursday condemned the violence in the Capitol.


mandel ngan / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Members of his inner circle, including chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Stephen Miller, White House press secretary Kayle McNee, Mr. Cipollon, and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, urged him to make another statement on Thursday, both of them, Americans needed to hear directly from the President.

He said advising the president that it was important to stop supporters from participating in violent riots in Mr. Trump’s name, especially as Inauguration Day nears, aides said.

On Thursday morning, the president thanked the donors for their service to the party over speakerphone members’ breakfast at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Florida, but did not address the riots, according to a person familiar with the conversation. .

A growing number of lawmakers called for the removal of President Trump following the Capitol riot on Wednesday. And the president acknowledged his 2020 electoral loss in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday night. WSJ’s Shelby Holiday Report on the latest. Photo: John Moore / Getty Images

Later in the day, he presented the Medal of Freedom to golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player in a private ceremony.

Mr. Trump had planned to spend the weekend at Camp David, but a White House official said those plans were scrapped. A White House aide said officials were also planning a possible presidential visit to Texas next week.

In the last moments of the crisis, the president often spends hours on the phone, calling dozens of friends and advisors. It was not so on Wednesday and Thursday, with both sides saying that many of the president’s closest advisers publicly condemned his reaction to the riots. He has also canceled calls from advisors, including former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, saying he spent 25 minutes on Wednesday and urged the president to call to stop the violence.

The White House declined to comment.

Advisers said the president is full of anger toward Vice President Mike Pence, who he saw as a betrayal for refusing to try to block congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Several White House officials on Thursday explicitly briefed the Oval Office, refraining from the president being told “in a dark place” by an advisor. Advisers said the president is more consumed with his electoral losses than remorse for rioting.

Another advisor recently spoke to the president saying, “It’s like watching someone commit suicide in front of your eyes, and you can’t do anything.”

On Wednesday, shortly before the president left the White House to comment on supporters, Mr. Pence told him that he lacked constitutional authority to prevent some voters from counting, which the president would pursue according to people familiar Were pushing for With conversation. Mr. Pence said it would set a wrong precedent if he stopped according to one of the people.

People said, the president was furious. “I don’t want to be your friend,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Pence, according to People. “I want to make you vice president.”

Vice President Mike Pence at the Capitol on Thursday. MPs returned to the House and Senate to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory after an attack was delayed by a mob.


Olivier Doulary / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Many of the president’s allies are troubled by his attacks on one of his most loyal allies, Mr. Pence. Some advisors to the president have praised Mr. Pence for following the constitution while under pressure from Mr. Trump to reverse the election results.

The revelations are also revealed against the backdrop of violence in the Capitol on Wednesday and another major blow to the White House and the Republican Party after that: loss in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, meaning Democrats also control both chambers of Congress Will White House Begins January 20. Several advisors to the president this week misjudged their aggressive allegations of fraud to the detriment of Republicans.

Meanwhile, the number of ranks surrounding the president has plummeted in the 24 hours since the riots in the Capitol. On Thursday, Transport Secretary Ellen Chao became the first cabinet secretary to resign, citing the capital’s “completely avoidable” storm. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned on Thursday evening, stating that “your rhetoric had no effect” on Wednesday’s events in a letter to the president. At least five other administrative officials have also resigned, and many more — including National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien — have considered doing so. He said Mr. O’Brien was expected to remain present due to national security concerns.

“People are very realistic about how bad it is,” a consultant said. Many White House officials are frustrated about the events of the last 24 hours and see it as a terrible way to end the presidency, the adviser said.

On Wednesday, the president was in “bunker mode”, according to a White House man, as allies struggled to convince him to condemn violence in the Capitol.

The president’s advisors – including the vice president – were disappointed by his reluctance to do so, people familiar with the conversation said. Mr Trump had to issue a tweet and later in a video statement urging the rioters to go home, calling him “very special” and saying “we love you” – because he “didn’t want to do anything” , “One of the people said.

The president’s inner circle is by far the shortest, people close to him said. He is extensively communicating with dedicated advisors Mr. Miller, John McKenney and Dan Scavino. Even some of Mr. Trump’s staunch defenders have distanced themselves. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said on the Senate floor Wednesday night: “Count me out. Enough is enough.”

Transportation Secretary Ellen Chao, shown at the 2018 cabinet meeting, resigned on Thursday citing the Capitol’s ‘completely avoidable’ storm.


Kevin Lamke / Reuters

The president’s own advisers say he considers his recent behavior increasingly self-destructive. Aide watched the riots in the Capitol with a scary scene on TV. One advisor described the president’s conduct as increasingly uncertain and unpredictable.

Some administration officials, as well as advisers outside the president, have started discussions about implementing the 25th amendment, according to a senior administration official and others familiar with the matter as lawmakers from both parties Has called in the cabinet to do so. The move would allow Mr. Pence to assume the president’s duties if cabinet officials deemed Mr. Trump incapable of doing his job. But it is widely seen as likely to come into view, people familiar with the discussion said, in part because the president has less than two weeks left in his term.

It is unclear what the remaining 13 days of Mr. Trump’s presidency will look like. Administration officials have handed over a series of executive orders that the president can sign on to, such as the role of independent agencies and the purchase of US requirements for renewable energy. But many officials said Mr. Trump’s focus on policy matters is difficult.

Administration officials have also discussed the pardon in recent weeks. Among those for whom amnesty has been discussed is rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty in December to a federal firearms charge, with people familiar with the conversation. Mr. Trump met with the rapper in October.

The president has recently told advisers that he is considering issuing a pardon for himself before he leaves office, which some colleagues have urged him to discuss, but which have questionable legal grounds, familiar with the discussions According to the person. The New York Times first warned of his recent interest and Mr. Cipollon’s legal exposure to the president.

In 1974 the Department of Justice stated in a legal memorandum that a chairman cannot pardon himself under the legal doctrine that “no one can be a judge in his case”, but some disagree with the opinion of legal scholars and call it in court Has never been tested. Mr Trump said in 2018 that he had “absolute right” to self-pardon, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? “

Write [email protected] and Andrew at Rebecca Ballhaus.

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