Former President Donald Trump didn’t want to include a line encouraging his loyalists to be “peaceful” in a tweet he sent on the day of the Capitol attack, a former White House aide recently said.
The mob of Trump loyalists attacked the building minutes after the former president delivered an incendiary speech pushing false claims of election fraud. During the speech, Trump told his followers that they could “never take back” the country “with weakness.”
“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump went on.
The aide, who recently spoke to CNN, was working in the West Wing on January 6, 2021, and was “close” to the White House messaging team during the attack. The individual, who chose to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation, said that Trump was “very reluctant to put out anything when it was unfolding,” preferring instead to let the attack “play out.”
At 2:38 p.m. Eastern Time, Trump issued a tweet from his now-deleted Twitter account.
“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country,” Trump wrote. “Stay peaceful!”
According to the aide, Trump did not want to include the words “stay peaceful” in his tweet. The aide also said that they have shared this information with the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.
Notably, Trump’s tweet did not instruct the mob of his loyalists to stop attacking the Capitol so that Congress could certify the Electoral College results from the 2020 presidential election. Trump finally sent a video message to his followers several hours after the attack began, telling them that he “loved” them and that they should leave.
The unnamed aide’s account of Trump’s attitude on the day of the Capitol attack aligns with another former White House official’s comments about Trump’s feelings as the attack took place. According to Stephanie Grisham, who served as Trump’s press secretary, the former president was happy with what was unfolding as his followers breached the Capitol.
Trump “was in the dining room, gleefully watching on his TV as he often did, [saying] ‘look at all of the people fighting for me,’ hitting rewind, watching it again,” Grisham recounted in an interview this week.
A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll shows that a majority of Americans – 58 percent – believe that Trump bears “a great deal” or “a good amount” of the responsibility for the Capitol attack. That number is unchanged from a year ago, when an ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted a week after the attack occurred, found that 57 percent of Americans believed that Trump was responsible.