- Trump told a journalist that he would’ve stopped his supporters from “doing anything bad” at the Capitol if he’d been there.
- Multiple news reports said he enjoyed watching the violence unfold on television.
- He also recorded a video message telling the rioters that they were “very special.”
Former President Donald Trump claims that he would have stopped his supporters from breaching the Capitol on January 6 if he’d been on the grounds with them.
Trump told Washington Examiner senior political correspondent David Drucker that he wanted to march to the Capitol with his supporters but that the Secret Service refused to greenlight his proposal.
“I wanted to go down with the crowd,” Trump told Drucker in an interview for Drucker’s book, “In Trump’s Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of the GOP,” which was published on Tuesday.
“I said I was going to go down with the crowd. But they wouldn’t let me go. I think if I did go down there, I would have stopped the people from doing anything bad,” Trump added.
Former White House aides told CNN in February that Trump enjoyed watching the frenzied mob storm the Capitol.
The Washington Post also reported that Trump was slow to call his supporters off because he was busy watching it unfold on live television. When he did finally speak out, Trump released a video message telling his supporters to “go home,” adding, “We love you, you’re very special.”
Trump was criticized for repeating the lie in the video message that the election was “rigged” and stolen from him, and for calling the rioters “very special.” Some news anchors, like CNBC’s Shepard Smith, refused to play it during their broadcasts.
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl also reports in his forthcoming book that Trump boasted about the size of the crowd that stormed the Capitol and had to record multiple takes of the video because he kept forgetting to call of the mob.
“Trump had to tape the message several times before they thought he got it right,” an aide who was present for the recording told Karl.
Trump further told Drucker that he “heard that Mike Pence was not in trouble” and that “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to him.”
One Reuters photographer said he overheard several Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol saying they wanted to hang the former vice president, while video footage of the siege captured a crowd of people shouting “Hang Mike Pence.”
Drucker wrote in his book that Trump told him some of the people in the crowd were antifa and Black Lives Matter supporters – a prominent right-wing conspiracy theory that’s been thoroughly debunked – but that Trump’s claims grew more outlandish as the year went on.
In one television interview Drucker highlighted, Trump downplayed the violence at the Capitol to Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo and claimed the insurrection was less controversial than the Black Lives Matters protests that swept the country following George Floyd’s death in May 2020.
He also repeatedly demanded to know who killed Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter who was fatally shot while trying to break a window to enter the Speaker’s Lobby during the January 6 siege.
“Why are they keeping that secret?” Trump said, adding that Babbitt was an “innocent, wonderful, incredible woman.” He also said, without evidence, that he had “heard” the person who killed her “was the head of security for a certain high official, a Democrat.”
In fact, Lt. Michael Byrd of the US Capitol Police revealed to NBC News in August that he shot Babbitt.
“Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd told NBC News’ Lester Holt. “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out.”
“If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress,” he added.