- As the Capitol riot unfolded, Trump’s White House did not immediately take the violence seriously.
- Ivanka Trump called the scene “an optics issue.”
- The moment is described in a forthcoming book by the author Michael Wolff.
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As a violent mob sieged the Capitol on January 6, former President Donald Trump and some of his aides at the White House did not take the chaos seriously at first, according to a forthcoming book.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and then-senior advisor, described the ongoing riot as “an optics issue.” Instead of addressing the news or treating the situation with more gravity, she had been busy talking about her children’s acceptance into a private school in Florida with a “variety of people.”
Eventually, at 3:15 p.m., Ivanka called on the rioters – whom she called “American patriots” – to “be peaceful” in a tweet that was deleted shortly after.
Wolff went on to describe how Trump similarly downplayed the severity of the riot and debated with his aides for nearly an hour on whether he should speak publicly about it.
He first tweeted for the mob to “stay peaceful” nearly 25 minutes after they breached the Capitol. Yet some of his advisors began pressing Trump to make a stronger statement, presenting him with two different tweets he could put out, Wolff reported.
But Trump refused.
The proposed tweets accused “crazed leftists” and “ANTIFA” of staging the assault on the Capitol and urged Trump’s supporters to “head home,” according to Wolff. (The FBI has found no evidence of the rioters belonging to antifa or leftist groups.)
Trump instead tweeted, roughly 35 minutes after his first post, for his supporters to once again “remain peaceful.” This, after they had already broken into the building, interrupted lawmakers who were certifying the 2020 election results, and forced Congress and former Vice President Mike Pence to evacuate.
It wasn’t until 4:17 p.m., about two hours after the violence had begun, that Trump told the mob to go home, in a since-deleted video on Twitter.
Trump grew increasingly confused at the riot as time went on, Wolff reported. That evening, he wrote, Trump told an aide on the phone: “This looks terrible. This is really bad. Who are these people? These aren’t our people, these idiots with these outfits. They look like Democrats.”
Wolff’s book, which covers several other tumultuous moments in the last months of Trump’s presidency, comes out on July 27.