‘It Has Gone Too Far’: Don Jr. Begged His Dad to Stop the Jan. 6 Rioters

“He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP,” Donald Trump Jr. texted Trump’s chief of staff during the Capitol riot.
Donald Trump Jr. and former President Donald Trump appear together on September 11, 2021 in Florida.
Donald Trump Jr. and former President Donald Trump appear together on September 11, 2021 in Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

As the Capitol riot was unfolding, some of the biggest names in the conservative movement were working their connections in the White House to get former President Donald Trump to do something—anything—to stop it.

“He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP,” Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, texted Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows.  Meadows responded: “I’m pushing it hard. I agree.” 

Advertisement

In text messages from Fox News hosts obtained by the House committee investigating January 6 from Meadows himself, Laura Ingraham told White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that the riot was “hurting all of us.” Sean Hannity begged Meadows to get Trump on TV to quell the riot. “Can he make a statement?” Hannity texted. “Ask people to leave the Capitol.” And Brian Kilmeade told Meadows that Trump was “destroying everything you’ve accomplished.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the committee and one of only two Republican members , read the text messages out loud during a meeting in which the committee voted 9-0 to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress. Meadows, who had initially said he would cooperate with the committee’s subpoena, provided more than 9,000 documents to the committee before he abruptly decided to stop cooperating last week

“These text messages leave no doubt: The White House knew exactly what was happening here at the Capitol,” Cheney said. 

Cheney then read several unattributed text messages sent to Meadows, including one from a Trump administration official saying, “POTUS has to come out firmly and tell the protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed."

Four people died at the Capitol that day, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police as she tried to breach the Capitol.

Advertisement

“According to the record, multiple Fox News hosts knew the President needed to act immediately,” Cheney said. She then read a text from Ingraham, the primetime Fox News host: “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”

On her show later that night, Ingraham became an early and prominent promoter of the unhinged conspiracy that the Capitol riot was perpetrated by antifascists. “Now, they were likely not all Trump supporters, and there are some reports that antifa sympathizers may have been sprinkled throughout the crowd,” Ingraham said, describing the Capitol that day as “under siege” by “people who can only be described as antithetical to the MAGA movement.”

Trump Jr. was the first member of the Trump family to condemn the riot, tweeting six minutes after his father’s supporters breached the Capitol: ​​”This is wrong and not who we are. Be peaceful and use your 1st Amendment rights, but don’t start acting like the other side. We have a country to save and this doesn’t help anyone.”

“We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” Trump Jr. said in texts to Meadows, according to Cheney. 

Advertisement

But since the riot, Trump Jr. has downplayed January 6 multiple times, in an attempt to portray violence on the left as worse. In March, after an FBI official testified that no firearms were confiscated after the Capitol riot, Trump Jr. tweeted: “Now do the ANTIFA riots!”

And in May, Trump Jr. released a six-minute video on Rumble slamming Republicans who voted to form an independent commission to investigate the Capitol riot, an effort which ultimately failed. “If you voted for this thing as a conservative, you’re an idiot,” Trump Jr. said in the video. “This is something that will be used and weaponized against conservatives forever.” 

Trump ultimately waited more than two hours after the riot began to post a video on his Twitter account which opened with a repeat of the election lies he’d been promoting for nearly two months at that point. “We had an election that was stolen from us, it was a landslide election and everyone knows it," Trump said. "But you have to go home. We have to have peace.”

Before signing off, Trump said: “We love you. You're very special.”