Evidence becoming clear: Trump wanted the insurrection to work
Donald Trump heavily promoted the January 6 rally in Washington. He fired up the crowd and urged them to march on the Capitol. That much is undisputed. What’s been emerging in the past few days goes much, much further. After Trump was told by Sen. Tommy Tuberville that Vice President Mike Pence had been rushed out of the Senate chamber, his security in question, Trump posted to Twitter, raging at Pence’s betrayal. “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify,” Trump posted after his conversation with Tuberville. “USA demands the truth!” The mob, while this was going on, was rampaging the building, chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”
That Trump attacked Pence publicly after learning Pence was under threat strongly suggests Trump was eager to see the mob locate Pence and do what they would with him. As the NY Times has reported, Trump told Pence he’d “go down in history as a pussy” if he didn’t flip the election to Trump. Trump clearly wanted the crowd to grab him. If you’re famous, they let you do it.
Added to that new piece of evidence is the testimony of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington state Republican who spoke with her party’s House leader, Kevin McCarthy, after McCarthy got into a shouting match with Trump. McCarthy and his staff were barricaded in an office, fearing for their lives, when McCarthy pleaded with Trump to call off the mob. Trump initially denied the mob was made up of his people. McCarthy told him he was wrong, and again demanded that he do something, anything -- go on TV, post to Twitter -- to call them off. "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are," Trump said, allowing the violence to rage on.
"I think it speaks to the former President's mindset," said Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican. "He was not sorry to see his unyieldingly loyal vice president or the Congress under attack by the mob he inspired. In fact, it seems he was happy about it or at the least enjoyed the scenes that were horrifying to most Americans across the country."
"You have to look at what he did during the insurrection to confirm where his mind was at," Herrera Beutler told CNN. "That line right there demonstrates to me that either he didn't care, which is impeachable, because you cannot allow an attack on your soil, or he wanted it to happen and was OK with it, which makes me so angry."
We can’t look away from this simple set of facts: All the evidence points to the conclusion not just that Trump recklessly whipped up a mob that went on to storm the Capitol, but that he wanted that mob to succeed in finding and attacking those who stood in the way of his return to the presidency. Now, of course, nobody can know what exactly went on inside Trump’s mind that day, but his conversation with Tuberville, the subsequent tweet, and his conversation with McCarthy point in a very dark direction.
What those Republican members of Congress have done is stare into Medusa’s face and refuse to blink.
Is there a rational basis to believe that the insurrection could have succeeded? It’s possible to put one together: If Pence and Pelosi were killed or badly injured, and the votes not certified, Trump could declare some sort of state of emergency and -- this is the key point -- live to fight another day.
Living to fight another day is Trump’s life philosophy. Just ahead of the 2018 midterms, Trump, at a rally, acknowledged he might lose the House. "It could happen. Could happen,” he said. "And you know what you do? My whole life, you know what I say? 'Don't worry about it, I'll just figure it out.' Does that make sense? I'll figure it out."
This was Trump’s MO throughout his business life. Faced with what appeared to be inevitable defeat, his last resort was always to create chaos, not because it would naturally lead to success, but because it would at least reset the situation and give his incredible lucky streak another opportunity to assert itself. Trump didn’t know exactly how things would play out if the mob succeeded in its mission, but he knew how things would go if it didn’t: He would lose. And he was ready to kill to stave that off.
The Senate has now voted to subpoena testimony from Herrera Beutler, who likely knows the names of other Republicans McCarthy also spoke to. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a House impeachment manager, also said he wanted access to notes Herrera Beutler took of her conversation with McCarthy. There seems to be no reason not to also call McCarthy.
Trump’s lawyer responded by suggesting Nancy Pelosi be deposed in his law office in Philadelphia, which prompted a round of guffaws from the gathered senators. “I don’t know why you’re laughing here,” said Trump’s lawyer. “There’s nothing laughable here.”
As ever with Trump, that’s both true and it’s not.
Another bloody conflict, this one on a much larger scale, continues to play out in Yemen. Our podcast this week is on Biden’s announcement that he’ll end support for the Saudi/UAE war in Yemen, and includes interviews with Rep. Ro Khanna, Yemeni-born activist Shireen Al-Adeimi, and my old colleague from HuffPost Akbar Ahmed. It also includes some news: In a meeting about Yemen, UAE ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba began yelling at Rep. Khanna. That’s just not done in Washington, and we talk about what that all means.