Newly released audio from an interview recorded just two months after January 6 captures Donald Trump’s real thoughts on the insurrection. In his own words, the former president claimed it was within his abilities to stop the riot.
When asked by ABC chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl if he would have returned to the Capitol Building while thousands of MAGA supporters raided the building, Trump said he “would have.”
“I was going to,” Trump said in the recording, first published by CNN. “And then Secret Service said ‘you can’t’, and then by the time … I was thinking about going back during the problem to stop the problem, doing it myself. Secret Service didn’t like that idea too much.”
“And I could’ve done that,” Trump continued. “And you know what? I would have been very well received. Don’t forget, the people that went to Washington that day, in my opinion, they went because they thought the election was rigged. That’s why they went.”
But that cozy narrative—in which Trump wanted to benevolently wield his power to stop the riot—flies in the face of testimonies provided by more than a thousand witnesses during House January 6 committee hearings, including that of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
According to Hutchinson, an “irate” Trump wanted to join the protesters at the Capitol Building so badly that he lunged at the clavicle of one of his Secret Service agents, Bobby Engel, before attempting to take the wheel of the presidential limo, nicknamed The Beast.
Hutchinson also testified that she overheard Trump saying he did not care if his supporters wielded weapons as they descended on Congress since he didn’t believe he would be a target of the violence.
The morning of, Trump also allegedly expressed frustration that his Secret Service were using metal-detecting magnetometers to keep armed people out of the area where he was set to give a speech.
“I overheard the president say something to the effect of ‘I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fucking mags away. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in, take the f—ing mags away,” she said.
Trump denied those allegations.
The January 6 committee also heard testimony purporting that Trump expressed support when he heard rioters were chanting to “hang Mike Pence” over the vice president fulfilling his constitutional duty to certify the vote for Joe Biden’s presidency.
In an 814-page final report, the committee determined that Trump “lit that fire,” fueling the violent, life-threatening raid in the weeks immediately preceding the insurrection.
Trump has been charged with four felony counts related to his actions on January 6, 2021.