Donald Trump “electrified” the mob ahead of the Jan. 6 riot, the committee says

Donald Trump electrified his far-right supporters by calling them to protest in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, before making a carefully planned plea for a march on the Capitol, a congressional committee has heard.

Members of the bipartisan panel investigating last year’s mob attack argued during a public hearing Tuesday that the former president was directly responsible for inciting violence among his supporters who believed Joe Biden stole the 2020 election.

Liz Cheney, the Republican vice chair of the committee, also revealed that the former president had attempted to contact an unidentified witness who is expected to testify before the committee next week. That witness did not answer the phone, she said, but instead contacted her attorney, who reported it to the committee.

“This committee submitted this information to the Justice Department,” she said. “We will take all efforts to influence witness testimony very seriously.”

Tuesday’s hearing focused on Trump’s actions prior to Jan. 6. Jamie Raskin, a Democratic member of the committee, said the former president “electrified and electrified” his supporters, including many from the far right, with a tweet urging them to come to Washington that day to oppose to protest the election results.

The committee showed emails, text messages and a draft tweet showing the former president had been planning for days to use a speech near the White House to urge his supporters to march into Congress.

“When Donald Trump tweeted, he was the first president ever to call for a crowd to come to the capital to block the constitutional transfer of power,” Raskin said. “He set off an explosive chain reaction among his followers.”

The committee showed many of Trump’s more extreme supporters using this tweet to generate enthusiasm for the Jan. 6 protest. Alex Jones, a right-wing conspiracy theorist, made a video saying Trump is “now calling on people to take action to show our numbers.”

Jason Van Tatenhove, a former national media director for the Oath Keepers, a far-right group, told the committee that Jan. 6 “may have been the spark that started a new civil war.”

Committee members also revealed that many close to the former president knew he was considering urging protesters to go to the Capitol.

Showing a draft of a tweet from Trump that was shown to the former President but never sent, they said: “I’m going to give a big speech at the Ellipse (south of the White House) on January 6th at 10am. Please arrive early as large crowds are expected. Then march to the Capitol.”

When Trump called during his Jan. 6 speech, it was presented as an offhand remark, but committee members argued he purposely sent an armed mob to attack the Capitol.

Some of those close to him blamed him for the violence. The committee showed text messages from former campaign manager Brad Parscale, which said: “This is about Trump pushing for insecurity in our country, an incumbent president calling for a civil war. . . I feel guilty for helping him.”

The committee also heard evidence from multiple witnesses of how Trump continues to push his false claims that the election was stolen, despite almost everyone closest to him telling him that was not the case.

Pat Cipollone, the former White House counsel and close Trump ally, told the committee: “Did I think at the time he should admit the election? Yes, I believed that.”

Still, there were some Trump advisers who wanted him to press ahead with his challenge, leading to what was described as a screaming match during a December 2020 White House meeting.

On one side were Trump’s attorney Sidney Powell, Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of, and Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser. They wanted the former President to appoint Powell as a special counsel to investigate conspiracy theories that foreign governments had helped alter the results logged on automatic voting machines.

The other side included Cipollone, Eric Herschmann, another White House Counsel, and White House Counsel Derek Lyons, who urged the President to dismiss such conspiracy theories.

Herschmann told the committee, “It got to the point where the screaming was completely, completely outside. . . It was late at night and a long day and I thought what they were proposing was crazy.”

The meeting ended after midnight, witnesses said. Less than two hours later, Trump tweeted at the center of Tuesday’s hearing: “Big protest in DC Jan 6th. Be there, it’s going wild!”

Next week the committee will hold what is expected to be the last in a series of public hearings before members write their final report. “Our hearing next week will be a profound moment of reckoning for America,” Raskin said.

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