Trump deleted line about prosecuting Jan. 6 rioters from speech, panel reveals
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Washington — Former President Donald Trump removed a line directing the Justice Department to prosecute Jan. 6 rioters from a speech he delivered the day after the attack on the Capitol, according to a copy of a draft of his remarks with his handwritten notes released Monday by the House select committee probing the assault.
Rep. Elaina Luria, a Democrat from Virginia who led the questioning for last week’s hearing with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, shared a video to her Twitter feed that includes recorded testimony from former White House aides, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and a document titled “Remarks on National Healing.”
“It took more than 24 hours for President Trump to address the nation again after his Rose Garden video on January 6th in which he affectionately told his followers to go home in peace,” Luria tweeted. “There were more things he was unwilling to say.”
Asked about the document, Ivanka Trump told committee investigators it appeared to be a copy of draft remarks for Trump to deliver Jan. 7 and identified edits as written in her father’s handwriting.
The draft remarks included a line that Trump crossed out in black marker: “I am directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawmakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We must send a clear message — not with mercy, but with JUSTICE. Legal consequences must be swift and firm.”
A paragraph follows with the line “I want to be very clear you do not represent me. You do not represent our movement” also crossed out. Trump edited a third sentence, which initially read “And if you broke the law, you belong in jail” to instead say “And if you broke the law, you will pay.”
In clips from testimony to the committee that were included in the more than three-minute-long video shared by Luria, Ivanka Trump said she believed conversations about the former president delivering remarks began the evening of Jan. 6, after the mob of Trump’s supporters violently breached the Capitol building and delayed the tallying of state electoral votes to reaffirm President Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Kushner told the committee he discussed “trying to put together some draft remarks for Jan. 7 that we were going to present to the president to try to say like we felt it was important to further call for de-escalation.”
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said White House staff talked about the need for Trump to address the violence in order to tamp down on talks about his Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office or his impeachment, according to her testimony to the committee.
“The primary reason that I had heard — other than, you know, we did not do enough on the 6th, we need to get a stronger message out there and condemn this, otherwise this will be your legacy — the secondary reason to that was, think about what might happen in the final 15 days of your presidency if we don’t do this. There’s already talks about invoking the 25th Amendment, you need this as cover,” she recalled.
The video shared by Luria closes with testimony from John McEntee, the former director of the Presidential Personnel Office, who told the committee that Kushner asked him to “nudge” Trump along to deliver the remarks.
Asked whether the implication was that the former president was reluctant to give that speech, McEntee said it was, based on “the fact that somebody has to tell me to nudge it along,” according to the clip of his testimony.
The testimony and document disclosed by Luria comes after the committee completed a tranche of hearings on Thursday, when it held its eighth public proceeding focusing on 187 minutes of inaction from Trump as the violence raged at the Capitol.
The panel showed during the hearing outtakes of Trump rehearsing a statement for Jan. 7, which included footage of him saying “I don’t want to say the election is over.” A number of the former president’s aides urged him to take action to quell the violence at the Capitol, according to testimony revealed by the committee, though he ultimately posted a tweet with recorded remarks taped in the Rose Garden repeating his baseless claims the election was rigged and telling the rioters they were “very special” but should return to their homes.