Donald Trump was “delighted” as he watched the Capitol riot unfold on television and could not understand why other top staffers weren’t as excited to see it, a Republican senator claims.
Sen. Ben Sasse talked to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday, relaying information he said he learned from top Trump administration aides about the president’s behavior during the riot on Wednesday. Throngs of his supporters surrounded the U.S. Capitol, pushing back the small numbers of police guarding the building and breaking windows and doors to gain entry. Once inside, members of the groups vandalized the building and broke into offices.
Sasse said that Trump was in support of the efforts, saying he was hoping for “chaos.”
“I don’t have any idea what was in his heart about what he wanted to happen once they were in the Capitol, but he wanted there to be chaos,” he said, via Vox.”And I’m sure you’ve also had conversations with other senior White House officials, as I have. As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.”
In contrast, Trump was happy to watch it unfold, the Nebraska senator claimed.
“He was delighted,” he said.
His account matched other reports claiming that Trump watched in excitement, though described the president’s alleged endorsement of the riots in stronger terms. Trump had addressed the group at a rally outside near the National Mall, continuing to lodge claims of election fraud, saying that he was the rightful winner but it was stolen from him.
Others who spoke at the rally made similar remarks that critics claimed incited the crowd, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who called for “trial by combat” with Democrats whom he claimed stole the election from Trump.
The president told the group that they should march with him to the Capitol, where members of Congress were tallying Electoral College votes to finalize Joe Biden’s victory, but he reportedly returned to the White House instead and watched along on television.
In the wake of the events, a number of lawmakers have called for Trump to be removed from office, with some members of his own party now joining in as well. A total of five people died during the siege, including a police officer who was reportedly bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher.