Former President Donald Trump was still trying to figure out a way to stop Congress from certifying his election defeat hours before the Capitol riot took place, according to the Guardian—indicating Trump himself was deeply involved in efforts to overturn the election up to and including the day of the riot.
On the night of Jan. 5 and in the early hours of Jan. 6, Trump reportedly called top allies who were working to help him to stay in office, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and Boris Epshteyn.
Trump’s election team was staying at the Willard InterContinental hotel in D.C., just a block from the White House. In phone calls to the hotel, Trump and the aides discussed ways to delay the certification, according to the Guardian, when it became clear he couldn’t rely on then-Vice President Mike Pence to use his role overseeing the process to stop Joe Biden from becoming president. “He’s arrogant,” Trump reportedly said of Pence in a conversation with Bannon.
Trump lawyers who were at the Willard denied to the Guardian that Trump attempted to delay the certification, and reportedly said that they considered trying to stop Biden’s win after requests from state legislators.
But Trump and his election team spent the weeks after he lost his re-election bid encouraging state officials and legislators, particularly in states that flipped from Trump to Biden, to find a way to discount enough votes that would change the results of the election. Even after leaving office, Trump has encouraged Republican states to audit the election and threatened primary challenges for legislators who don’t comply.
Even after pro-Trump rioters entered the Capitol and stopped certification for several hours, Trump’s team was still working Republican senators to delay the vote. “I want to discuss with you how they're trying to rush this hearing and how we need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you,” Giuliani said in a voicemail meant for Sen. Tommy Tuberville on the evening of Jan. 6, which was reported by the Dispatch after Giuliani mistakenly left it for another senator who shared it with the outlet.
The House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 has interviewed more than 150 people, committee member Rep. Liz Cheney told NBC News last week. The committee has subpoenaed a number of officials both in the Trump White House and outside of it, and Bannon was indicted on a charge of contempt of Congress earlier this month.
While the former president was working overtime to try to stop Biden from taking office, it appears he was neglecting other key parts of his job, according to a new book by former CIA inspector general John Helgerson.
Trump was supposed to receive an intelligence briefing on Jan. 6 after taking an unusual break from them for the holidays, but he didn’t. He never received another intelligence briefing for the remainder of his presidency, Helgerson wrote.
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