Trump’s Post-Coup Blooper Reel Says It All - DMT NEWS

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Trump’s Post-Coup Blooper Reel Says It All

This content comes from the latest installment of our weekly Breaking the Vote newsletter out of VICE News’ D.C. bureau, tracking the ongoing efforts to undermine the democratic process in America. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday. (edited) 

“I don’t want to say the election’s over.”

A full day after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, then-President Donald Trump still had absolutely zero remorse. He accepted zero blame. He gave zero shits.

Only when facing the threat that his own Cabinet might try to remove him from office did he record a still-milquetoast video condemning the violent rioters.

The post-coup blooper reel told the tale.

“I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election’s over, OK?” Trump said in new outtake footage shown by the House Jan. 6 Select Committee on Thursday night, interrupting his take to reject the script his aides had crafted for him.

That came after he repeatedly dug in his heels during the riot itself, and rejected his aides’ pleas to stop the violence. 

The broad strokes of all this were obvious on the day of the attack itself, but the real-time reactions of his staff—and the visceral, mostly awful, sometimes funny reactions of top officials on Capitol Hill that day—threw the riot into stark relief.

One exchange was particularly notable. Former Trump campaign adviser Tim Murtaugh texted fellow Trump campaign staffer Matt Wolking on Jan. 9, after Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died after sustaining serious injuries during the riot, that it was “shitty not to have even acknowledged the death of the Capitol Police officer.”

“That is enraging to me,” Wolking texted back. “Everything he said about supporting law enforcement was a lie.”

“You know what that is, of course,” Murtaugh replied. “If he acknowledged the dead cop, he’d be implicitly faulting the mob, And he won’t do that, because they’re his people. And he would also be close to acknowledging that what he lit at the rally got out of control. No way he acknowledges something that could be called his fault.”

The committee’s final hearing until September didn’t greatly expand our collective knowledge base about the riot. But audio of the Secret Service officers scrambling to try to protect then-Vice President Mike Pence, a clip from a security official talking about how he heard some calling their loved ones to say goodbye, video of Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley hauling ass away from the mob not long after he’d flashed them a raised fist of encouragement—brought home the chaos of the day. 

And, as the committee brought home hard, Trump did absolutely nothing to quell the violence.

As rioters were already storming the Capitol, he tweeted at 2:24 p.m. that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

It wasn’t until 3:13 p.m., two hours after the riot began, that Trump tweeted a weak-tea call for peace—while refusing to ask anyone to leave. “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews testified Thursday that her boss, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, told her that the watered-down tweet went out because “the president did not want to include any mention of peace on that tweet.” He refused any call for peace until his daughter Ivanka Trump suggested the limp phrase “stay peaceful.”

The president never, at any point, agreed to call in the military to help the bloodied and badly outnumbered Capitol Police put down the riot. That call was made by Pence, who broke the chain of command to do so. Trump didn’t actually call for the rioters to leave the Capitol until it had already been publicly broadcast that the military was intervening and the balance of the fight was clearly tipping against the rioters. 

And even then, he went off-script. Instead of reading the prepared remarks and stating “I'm asking you to leave the capitol region NOW and go home in a peaceful way,” Trump ad-libbed a rant about how the election was stolen before finally telling the violent rioters, “Go home. We love you. You're very special.”

The committee has unearthed fact after fact to bolster the obvious: Trump tried a legal coup to block his election loss, when that failed he sicced a mob on the Capitol, refused to do anything to stop them when it mattered, and never accepted any culpability for his actions.

The moments were explosive, gasp-inducing, headline-worthy. But as the committee recesses until September, it’s still not clear how much these brutal facts—and Trump’s total ambivalence towards the violent chaos he sowed—have changed many minds.

What’s Happening

T.W.I.S.™ Notes

This week in subpoenas, the January 6 Committee subpoenaed Phil Waldron, the retired Army PsyOps specialist whose powerpoint helped inject into Trumpworld the claims that votes had been “switched” in multiple states and smart thermostats controlled by China changed votes. The committee is demanding that he actually show any evidence of those claims. That’s one guy who might fail the test because he won’t show his work…

Meanwhile, seven retired generals and admirals—a few people who outranked Waldron just a bit—wrote a scathing op-ed in the New York Times blasting Trump for a “dereliction of duty” as Commander-in-Chief on Jan. 6.

The Times also reported on the previously undisclosed role that a fringe right-wing lawyer played in pitching Trump on a plan to use martial law to block his election loss in late 2020.

And down in Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who’s leading the investigation into whether Trump and his allies illegally tried to overturn that state’s 2020 election results, sent letters letting the 16 fake electors know that they’re targets of a criminal probe.

That’s a major escalation.

But the judge scolded Willis for hosting a political fundraiser for a candidate running against lieutenant governor candidate Burt Jones, one of the 16 fake electors targeted by the investigation. We’ll see where the case goes from here—and how much damage Willis’ fundraising did to her credibility.

Electoral Count re-Act:

In actual possible good news, a bipartisan group of senators announced they’d reached a compromise on a bill to reform the Electoral Count Act (that law whose poorly worded language Trump tried to leverage into a coup on Jan. 6) to make it absolutely clear that plots like his are illegal. 

The bill, as outlined, has some very good elements.

It removes an archaic provision in old law that could let state legislatures declare a “failed election” and overturn their state’s election results; explicitly says the vice president’s role in certifying the election is purely ceremonial; declares that one official (in most states, the governor) is in charge of submitting the state’s electors to Congress; increases the threshold it takes to object to a state’s electors from one member in each chamber to one fifth of both the House and the Senate; and requires Congress “defer to slates of electors submitted by a state’s executive pursuant to the judgments of state or federal courts.” A separate bill seeks to protect election workers by increasing criminal punishments for threats, harassment, and violence against them.

That doesn’t solve everything, though. A rogue governor (say, a Gov. Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania) could still create chaos under this scenario.

And some experts think the current law worked just fine, thank you, and are worried that introducing the new law tacitly acknowledges problems with the old one that they say don’t actually exist, which legitimizes some of Trump’s coup attempts, which were in fact illegal. Some also worry about unintended consequences the new bill could have.

Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney and California Democratic Rep. Zoey Lofgren, two members of the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, made it clear they weren’t happy with the Senate bill with this joint statement:

“As Greg Jacob, the Vice President’s General Counsel testified, President Trump had no legal basis to pressure the Vice President to reject or refuse to count electoral votes. The Select Committee has been considering legislative recommendations based on its findings concerning the January 6 attack and will share those soon. These will include a bipartisan approach to the Electoral Count Act.”

– On Wisconsin:

Even as the committee continues its work, Trump is still trying to overturn the 2020 election.

Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that Trump called him last week in yet another attempt to reverse Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential results. Not long after, Trump took to social media to attack Vos.

In related news: Trump’s pick for Wisconsin governor repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility that he’d try to overturn Biden’s 2020 win of the state if he’s elected. Tim Michels said he’d “need to see the details.” (Spoiler alert: This wouldn’t be legally possible.)

Meanwhile, over in the Mitten, Michigan legislative Democrats filed a resolution that called on the DOJ to investigate 11 of their GOP colleagues for “seditious conspiracy” for their role in trying to block the certification of Biden’s election victory in their state.

– Feeling a bit Rusty

The Arizona Republican Party censured state Republican House Speaker Leader Rusty Bowers for testifying to the House Jan. 6 Select Committee. He’s also facing an uphill battle in his primary election—and Trump put out a(nother) statement this week calling him “ a weak and pathetic RINO who has blocked Election Integrity” and encouraging Arizona Republicans to vote for his opponent.

– Old Bay-ond comprehension

Maryland had its primaries this week, and Republicans nominated for governor a man who organized buses to Washington on Jan. 6, tweeted during the Capitol riot that Mike Pence was a “traitor,” tried to impeach Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan over his COVID-19 policies, and recently spoke at a QAnon conference. And he’s not even the most extreme candidate they nominated on Tuesday.

Maryland state Del. Dan Cox won the GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday night, buoyed by an endorsement from former President Trump. And Michael Peroutka—a Christian nationalist and former board member of the neo-Confederate, secessionist League of the South whose extreme views are almost too numerous to enumerate—won the GOP’s nomination for attorney general. 

Hogan has already said he won’t vote for Cox, and Peroutka’s primary opponent told me before the primary he wasn’t sure if he’d vote for Peroutka either.

I took a deep dive on Peroutka before the primary. Read it here.

Cox won partly because Democrats spent huge sums to help him—the latest extremist Republican they’ve aided in a primary in order to face a less electable opponent in the general. That’s probably a safe move in a blue state like Maryland (or Illinois, where it worked in the governor’s primary). But it’s pretty damn risky in Pennsylvania, where they helped hardliner Doug Mastriano win the gubernatorial primary and now may be seeing the general election race tighten a bit. Folks in both parties, including Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney and New York Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice, are alarmed this might backfire and screw democracy.

– 2024 Pence, none the richer

Mike Pence, the quasi-hero of the Jan. 6 hearings, sure is acting like a 2024 presidential candidate. His aides are saying he’ll likely run against his old boss. He stopped by Capitol Hill this week where he received a warm (if not overwhelming) reception from House Republicans and Texas Rep. Chip Roy reportedly praised him for his “courage and standing for the Constitution and certifying” Biden’s win, and got “sustained applause.” It’d be interesting to know who exactly was clapping, given that two-thirds of House Republicans voted against certifying Arizona and Pennsylvania immediately after the riot.

Polls have found Pence would badly trail Trump in a head-to-head with primary voters—and run a distant third of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis jumps in too.

– We’re doing great, guys!

Nearly half of Americans—48%—think that “it is at least somewhat likely that in the next few years, some elected officials will successfully overturn the results of a US election because their party did not win,” according to a new CNN poll

On Our Radar

Bannoned in DC
Steve Bannon
’s trial for contempt of Congress got underway this week—and is already almost wrapped up after Bannon’s team decided not to call any witnesses.

And after promising to go “medieval” on his enemies, Bannon wussed out and decided not to testify himself.

If he’s sweating the trial, though, Bannon didn’t show it: He apparently wore the same three shirts, one layered over the next, to court on sequential days in spite of the sweltering summer D.C. heat.

Closing arguments will likely happen this morning. Keep an eye out on our site (and our reporter covering the trial, Greg Walters, on Twitter) for the latest updates on this clown show. But, spoiler alert: Experts think he’s likely going to jail.

Way-Too-Secret Service

An inspector general found that the Secret Service deleted a bunch of texts, which the agency was legally required to preserve, from the time right before and during the riot on Jan. 6. It appears they may not be retrievable, and the House Select Committee’s members are livid.

I Said What I Said

“[Because] the American people would sit up there and they would think this is a fair process” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, explaining that he didn’t name members to the Jan. 6 Committee after his initial appointees were rejected so that Republicans could deride the committee as partisan and biased, rather than have to engage with its findings.


How “Stop the Steal” captured the American right. THE NEW YORK TIMES

Blake Masters is Peter Thiel’s dream candidate—and a total nightmare for democracy. MOTHER JONES

Ron Johnson can’t crawl out of the January 6 hole he dug for himself. NEW REPUBLIC

America’s self-obsession is killing its democracy. THE ATLANTIC



via https://www.DMT.NEWS

Cameron Joseph, Khareem Sudlow