WASHINGTON (CN) — Donald Trump both spurred the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and was derelict in his duty as president that day, the House committee investigating last year's insurrection asserted Thursday, using the last of its summer hearings to focus its closing argument on Trump's refusal to act for more than three hours while rioters took over the halls of Congress in a bid to overturn the peaceful transfer of power.
After a month of blockbuster hearings detailing the president’s role in the attack, Thursday's testimony added new chilling details to the narrative of the insurrection, including testimony that the vice president’s security staff feared for their lives in the Capitol as countless White House staff urged the president to call off the mob.
Never-before-seen footage from Jan. 7, with the carnage of the violent attack on the Capitol steps still fresh, also laid bare Trump’s refusal to declare the election was over.
The video shows Trump rehearsing a message on Jan. 7 but pushing back against the words written by his staff.
“This election is now over, Congress has certified the results,” he says in the video, reading from the teleprompter.
“I don’t want to say the election is over," Trump then notes, off-script.
Separate from the newly revealed footage from Jan. 7, the panel focused Thursday on a minute-by-minute account of the president’s inaction on Jan. 6, starting with the mob that formed at the Ellipse where then-President Trump was holding a Stop the Steal rally to push the lie that his reelection to a second term was stolen.
For the 187 minutes following that speech, Trump supporters marched to the Capitol building, threatened the lives of members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence, and breached the Capitol, temporarily halting the certification of the 2020 presidential election results and trading blows with police officers.
Trump meanwhile remained quiet. Despite having been told within 15 minutes of leaving the rally stage that the Capitol was under attack, according to the panel, it took 187 minutes for Trump to respond publicly.
"He could not be moved to rise from his dining room table and walk the few steps down the White House hallways into the press briefing room, where cameras were anxiously and desperately waiting to carry his message,” Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said Thursday, appearing at the hearing remotely due to a Covid-19 diagnosis.
Stationed in the White House dining room with the TV tuned in to Fox News, the president looked on as the insurrection raged.
His pressure campaign to get Pence to subvert the election results had failed. His efforts to influence officials in the Justice Department to investigate baseless claims of fraud were fruitless. His urging that state officials question the results of the 2020 presidential election that Biden had legitimately won gained no traction.
“Only one thing was achieving President Trump’s goal,” said Representative Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the panel, referencing the mob of Trump supporters who laid siege to the Capitol.
The then-president did not call the vice president, the secretary of defense, the attorney general, the secretary of Homeland Security or request a law enforcement response as the rally turned into a violent mob on the Capitol building that resulted in multiple deaths, according to testimony from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
In fact, it was Pence who called for the national guard to get to the Capitol.
Representative Adam Kinzinger, the other Republican on the committee, minced no words in his condemnation of Trump.
"Whatever your politics, whatever you think about the election, we all must agree on this: Donald Trump's actions on Jan. 6 [were] a supreme violation of his oath of office and a complete dereliction of duty to our nation. It is a stain on our history,” Kinzinger said.