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The Secret Service rushed to explore the idea of ​​taking Trump to the Capitol on Jan. 6, witnesses told the Jan. 6 committee.
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Shortly before pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Secret Service agents rushed to try and secure a motorcade route so then-President Donald Trump , could accompany his supporters as they marched on Congress to demand that he stay in office, according to two people briefed on testimony from congressional investigators.

The turbulent events of that day followed nearly two weeks of persistent pressure by Trump on the Secret Service to come up with a plan for him to join his supporters on a march to the Capitol from the park near the White House where he was. first a rally he predicted would be “wild”.

The agency had rebuffed Trump’s early pleas, but the Jan. 6 effort to accommodate the president came as Secret Service personnel overheard Trump urging his rally audience of nearly 30,000 to march to the Capitol while suggesting that he would join them. Their mission was clear, he said: to pressure “weak” Republicans into refusing to accept the election results that made Joe Biden the next president.

“We’re going to march to the Capitol,” he told the crowd.

Witnesses told the House committee on Jan. 6 that immediately after Trump made the remark, Secret Service agents contacted DC police to block intersections, according to people briefed on the testimony. Police officials refused because they were exhausted from monitoring numerous protests and later helping with growing crowds at the Capitol, the people said. A senior law enforcement official told the Washington Post that the president’s retail chief scuttled the idea as untenable and dangerous.

A DC official confirmed Tuesday that the Secret Service has requested DC police assistance for a presidential motorcade on Jan. 6.

“We were asked, and the answer was no,” said Dora Taylor-Lowe, spokeswoman for the DC deputy mayor who oversees the police department.

The testimony, which could be presented at high-profile hearings due to begin this week with the House committee on January 6, indicates that several days before his speech, Trump was eager to join his supporters on a march to the Capitol. No permit had been issued for such a march, although some Trump allies touted a march on far-right social media platforms as a way to pressure Congress into not certifying election victory. of Biden.

The House Jan. 6 Committee of Inquiry conducted more than 800 interviews with insurgents and Trump aides. Here is the continuation. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Trump previously told the Post that his wishes to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6 had been blocked by the Secret Service. But Trump’s early insistence on joining a march went unreported before, and it was not publicly known that Secret Service officials considered taking steps to transport him there just as the chaotic events were about to unfold.

The new details also reflect the House committee’s growing focus on whether Trump’s White House may have tried to drag this civil service agency into the president’s quest to block the peaceful transfer of the power. Five people died in the attack or in its immediate aftermath, and more than 100 police officers were injured as rioters poured into the Capitol.

A Secret Service spokesperson said Trump’s security officials never formalized a plan to bring Trump from the White House to the Capitol.

“On January 6, the Secret Service did not secure a motorcade route for President Trump to proceed to the Capitol following the Ellipse rally,” spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. “Secret Service personnel assigned to the President’s detail told administration officials that proposed travel plans to visit the Capitol on January 6 would not be feasible.”

Guglielmi said the agency was fully cooperating with congressional investigators’ request for information and documents about the Secret Service’s planning for Trump’s movements that day. He said the agency conducted an extensive search of its internal records that revealed it had no operational plan to move Trump to the Capitol.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday.

In addition to investigating Trump’s repeated press for the Secret Service to let him join the march, the committee investigated whether Trump and his political aides played a role in encouraging the Secret Service to remove the vice. -President Mike Pence of the Capitol after the construction of the building. mobbed by Trump supporters — and before Pence oversaw the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, according to people briefed on the investigation.

In an April interview with The Post, Trump expressed regret for not marching to the US Capitol on the day his supporters stormed the building. He said he insisted on joining the march that day, but was stopped by his security detail.

“Secret Service wouldn’t let me,” Trump said. “I wanted to leave. I wanted to go so badly. The Secret Service says you can’t go. I would have been there in a minute.

In the interview, Trump defended his inflammatory remarks urging his supporters to come to Washington and then march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”

“I said patriotically and peacefully,” he said. He said he had offered up to 10,000 troops and National Guard members to the Capitol and the city through his Department of Defense, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) declined the offer.

“If I wanted to do something, I wouldn’t recommend soldiers,” Trump said.

Trump’s first public statement on Jan. 6 to his loyal supporters came in a Dec. 19 tweet. He encouraged his supporters to rally in Washington to protest what he called a rigged election with these words: “Be there. Will be wild!

A few days later, according to witness testimony to the committee, Trump was urging his aides to help him encourage a protest just outside the Capitol.

Around New Year’s Eve, Trump aides raised with Tony Ornato, a Secret Service official then temporarily deputy White House chief of staff, the president’s desire to ride in a motorcade on Jan. 6 alongside the marchers. heading toward the Capitol, according to testimony from witnesses and a senior law enforcement official.

Ornato recommended that Trump aides contact Trump’s Secret Service chief around Jan. 4, the law enforcement official said. Secret Service officials were highly skeptical that it would be possible to bring Trump to the Capitol safely based on a similar experience they had at a “Stop the Steal” rally in downtown Washington. on November 14, according to reports. Trump had delighted his loyal supporters at the November rally when his motorcade appeared on Pennsylvania Avenue shortly after 10 a.m. Fans flocked to Freedom Plaza in downtown DC to get a glimpse. Trump had urged his security guards to make the detour to ride alongside the crowd, just before heading to his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.

Ornato and Trump’s retail chief viewed the Nov. 14 motorcade as a potential disaster in the making, due to the proximity of Trump’s limo to unscreened members of the public, according to two people briefed on the discussions.

“And they really, really didn’t want him to go,” one of the people said. Trump’s retail chief told senior White House officials that such a motorcade plan at an even larger rally in January was dangerous and should not happen.

On the morning of Jan. 6, many in the Secret Service thought they were doing an “in and out” — taking Trump to the Ellipse stage and then back to the White House, according to reports. They were caught off guard when Trump made what they considered a surprise announcement, according to a senior law enforcement official.

“We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you won’t have a country,” he said, adding later. “So we’re going – we’re going to walk Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol.”

Some motorcade officers quickly began calling their contacts within DC Police to see if they could get help securing a motorcade route, according to reports. The police replied that they were tense provide backup to Capitol Police and provide security checkpoints around the multiple gatherings that day.

The president’s security chief stepped in to quash the effort and told senior White House officials that moving the president to the Capitol would be far too risky, a senior law enforcement official said.


Washington

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