That’s what Donald Trump told rally-goers at the so-called “Save America Rally ” in Washington DC on January 6th as he exhorted them to walk down to the Capitol to support the GOP senators planning to object to the results of a free and fair presidential election. “And I’ll be there with you”.
Yet, as we all know by now, Trump wasn’t there with them. Business Insider reported on January 7th that following his speech Trump returned to the White House by car.
Apart from assuming that Trump was just being his typical asshole self by skipping an appearance at the capitol, I hadn’t given this aspect of that day much thought until my wife raised the question yesterday while we were listening to Minnesota Public Radio’s live coverage of the Senate impeachment trial. Why didn’t Trump go to the Capitol?
It strikes me that there were considerable political risks by not showing up. Think about it for a minute: you’re speaking at a super-charged rally, you tell the crowd that “we’re” all going to walk down to the Capitol, and then you get into a car and drive straight to the White House? What happened to ” And I’ll be there with you”? That’s a pretty unequivocal statement. It’s not open to a whole hell of a lot of interpretation. He said he’d be there. In the flesh. Among them. In person.
Instead he got into a car and drove straight to the White House. Why?
It suggests to me that Trump knew there was going to be trouble and didn’t want to be anywhere near it. Not suspected, knew. My wife thinks his statement about being peaceful was Trump planting what amounts to a pre-meditated defense. No matter what happened at the Capitol, Trump could point to his statement at the rally that he urged people to be peaceful. Maybe she’s on to something?
Given that the Senate voted this morning to extend the trial and call witnesses and subpoena documents, I think House Manager Jamie Raskin should explore this further. Are there any White House communications records that might show Trump had foreknowledge of certain groups intent to storm the Capitol? Is there someone within his inner circle who might know?
It’s plenty bad enough that Trump made no effort to call off the riot when it started. It would be far worse if he knew ahead of time that it was going to happen.