Donald Trump watched in enjoyment as crowds of his supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol while Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes and formalizing Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, a new report claims.
The president has come under fire after the attack rocked the nation and shocked the world, leading to condemnation from leaders across the globe and many pointing fingers at Trump for his own behavior. Before the crowd of rioters broke into the building, rushing past police officers in an attack that left one woman shot to death and at least three others dead, Trump spoke to the large group of his supporters that had gathered for a rally supporting his unfounded claims of election fraud. In speaking to the crowd, Trump urged them to march to the Capitol, saying he would be there with them but instead retreating to the White House.
As the New York Times reported, it was there that he watched, initially refusing to take any action that could have stopped the siege and instead watching it play out with apparent enjoyment.
“As aides urged Mr. Trump to issue a strong condemnation on Wednesday and he rejected that advice, the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, warned Mr. Trump that he could face legal exposure for the riot given that he had urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and ‘fight’ beforehand, according to people briefed on the discussion. The president had appeared to White House aides to be enjoying watching the scenes play out on television,” the report noted.
Trump did eventually release a video in which he called on the rioters to stop and leave the building, but in the remarks he reiterated the unfounded claims that the election had been stolen from him. The video drew pushback, with social media outlets taking it down and ultimately suspending his accounts. When his Twitter suspension was lifted on Thursday, Trump posted another video in which he appeared to acknowledge Biden’s victory for the first time publicly.
In the wake of the incident, politicians on both sides of the aisle have called for him to be removed from office, either through impeachment or by the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which allows for the removal of a president when they are not capable of carrying out their duties.
Others have joined in suggesting that Trump could face criminal charges for inciting the crowd toward violence.