- House January 6 investigators showed Trump recording his speech a day after the Capitol attack.
- Trump struggled through the speech multiple times and edited out the line, “The election is over.”
- On January 7, the president also backed down from more harshly criticizing the mob that stormed the Capitol.
A day after the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, then-President Donald Trump condemned his riotous supporters, saying they did not represent “our movement” or the country.
But he refused to say four words suggested by aides: “The election is over.”
For the first time Thursday, the House committee investigating the Capitol attack aired unedited footage of Trump recording his national address on January 7, 2021, in which he declared that rioters involved in the insurrection “broke the law” and “will pay.” It was a marked change in tone from the day of the attack, in which Trump recorded a video telling the angry mob: “”Go home. We love you, you’re very special.”
The outtake shows Trump fumbling through his speech and ordering edits on-the-fly. Wearing a suit and pale blue tie, he appears to slam his hand on the podium in frustration at times and awkwardly stops after the word, “yesterday.”
Trump stops at another point saying he can’t see the speech text. Later, he stops at the line, “and if you broke the law,” shaking his head. He indicates that the speech is growing overly harsh toward Capitol rioters.
—CSPAN (@cspan) July 22, 2022
At one point in the footage, Trump begins to say, “But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results.”
Then, he catches himself.
“I don’t want to say the election is over,” Trump said. “I just want to say Congress certified the results announcing the election is over, OK?”
In response, his daughter Ivanka can be heard offering the prompt, “Now, Congress has certified…”
The footage aired Thursday amounted to a rare blooper reel of a president striving to calibrate his message at a critical time in history.
The outtake served to underscore a key point of the House January 6 committee’s hearings: Trump repeatedly refused to accept the outcome of the 2020 election and turned to increasingly desperate measures to overturn the result, even as top aides advised that his claims of widespread voter fraud were baseless.
For the House January 6 committee, Thursday’s hearing was the last in a string of closely-watched proceedings the panel has held since early June. With a primetime audience, the panel on Thursday highlighted the 187 minutes between the initial breach of the Capitol and Trump’s release of what Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the House January 6 committee, called the “now-infamous ‘go home’ message.”
Concluding the hearing Thursday, Rep. Liz Cheney said the testimony and video painted a picture of a president “faced with a stark and unmistakable choice between right and wrong.”
“There was no ambiguity, no nuance. Donald Trump made a purposeful choice to violate his oath of office, to ignore the ongoing violence against law enforcement, to threaten our constitutional order,” added Cheney, the Republican vice chair of the House January 6 committee. “There is no way to excuse that behavior. It is indefensible.”