Jan. 6 probe: Trump poured ‘gasoline on the fire’

'He lied, he bullied, he betrayed his oath,' says US Rep. Bennie Thompson.

Jan. 6 probe: Trump poured ‘gasoline on the fire’

On the day of the deadly Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021, President Donald Trump refused to call off the mob that threatened the certification of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

Instead, Trump poured "gasoline on the fire" as the siege at the Capitol continued to rage by tweeting his condemnation of Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to support his plan to stop the confirmation of Biden’s victory, according to Thursday night's testimony from the House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots.

This was the first insight into the former president's role on that now infamous day, one in which the committee said Trump aggressively tweeted claims of a rigged and stolen election despite desperate pleas from top Republican leaders, his closest aides and even his own family members to call off the attack, which left five people dead as Trump’s supporters clashed with police.

“President Trump didn’t fail to act," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a fellow Republican but frequent Trump critic. "He chose not to act.”

“He lied, he bullied, he betrayed his oath,” exclaimed Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who added that Trump did "“everything in his power to overturn the election."

The Jan. 6 committee documented the former president's 187-minute timeline from the time he left a rally urging his supporters to march to the Capitol to the time he watched the violence unfold on TV.

"President Trump sat at his dining table and watched the attack on television while his senior-most staff, closest advisors and family members begged him to do what is expected of any American president," said Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria.

The committee also provided text messages from Trump's eldest son, Don Jr., to the former president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, which detailed the urgency of the moment.

"He's got to condemn this s*** ASAP," said one of the messages. "They will try to f*** his entire legacy on this if it gets worse."

Two Trump aides even resigned as the riots continued.

“I thought that Jan. 6, 2021, was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history,” said former White House aide Sarah Matthews. “And President Trump was treating it as a celebratory occasion. So it just further cemented my decision to resign.”

Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger told the committee that when he saw Trump's tweet condemning Pence as the mob chanted "Hang Mike Pence," he immediately decided to resign.

The minute-by-minute account of Trump's actions, or lack thereof, was the committee's way of showing that the former president did nothing to stop the violence but rather sat and watched the violence unfold on television.

“He refused to do what every American president must,” said Republican Rep. Liz Cheney. “And for hours, Donald Trump chose not to answer the pleas from Congress, from his own party and from all across our nation, to do what is required."

More than 840 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot, with over 330 of them pleading guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. Nearly half of the more than 200 defendants to be sentenced have received prison terms.

The Jan. 6 committee cannot pursue criminal charges, but the Justice Department is monitoring the proceedings.

No former president has ever been federally prosecuted.

Hüseyin Demir