What Was Trump Up to While His Superfans Stormed the Capitol? Here's a Timeline.

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Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis - Getty Images

As the January 6 Committee hearings move towards its likely conclusion Thursday, it helps to remember that Donald Trump should have been impeached and convicted solely on the basis that his behavior for hours that day constituted a dereliction of duty and a violation of his oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." As the peaceful transfer of power came under threat, so did the constitutional order of this country. If the guy who actually won the election is prevented from taking power according to the laws of the United States, that's a major problem for the Constitution that Trump was sworn to preserve and protect.

However, the 45th president watched the assault on Congress and, at the very least, did nothing during what the committee has referred to as the "187 minutes of inaction." No one is even pretending he was working to restore order at the Capitol or to get the crowd to retreat. "Not only did President Trump refuse to tell the mob to leave the Capitol, he placed no call to any element of the U.S. government to instruct that the Capitol be defended," committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney has said. "He did not call his Secretary of Defense on January 6th. He did not talk to his attorney general. He did not talk to the Department of Homeland Security."

Trump's behavior throughout those crucial hours on January 6 will reportedly be much of the focus for the committee's last hearing Thursday night. To refresh our memories, here's some of what we know about what was happening at the Capitol and he was up to (instead of his job).

12:53 p.m.: While Trump was still speaking at the Stop the Steal rally, his superfans started to violently engage police at the Capitol perimeter.

1:11 p.m.: Just before Trump concluded his speech at the White House Ellipse, he offered this message to his assembled acolytes: "But I said something is wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened, and we fight. We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore...So we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue—I love Pennsylvania Avenue—and we are going to the Capitol. And we are going to try and give...our Republicans—the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help—going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country." As Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified late last month, Trump was informed before taking the stage that some people in the crowd were armed. "I don't fucking care that they have weapons," he allegedly said, "they're not here to hurt me."

Minutes later: Contrary to his record of never taking on personal risk at any point in his life, Trump may have actually wanted to march down to the Capitol with his people. That's according to Hutchinson, who further testified—citing what she says she heard from Trump's security detail—that Trump was so furious on hearing that the Secret Service had deemed the trip too risky that he tried to seize the wheel of the presidential vehicle from an agent. "The president said something to the effect of, 'I'm the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,'" according to Hutchinson. Trump and former members of his Secret Service detail, Tony Ornato and Robert Engel, have denied Hutchinson's account, but only one of these four people has testified under oath. Also, Ornato had crossed over from the Secret Service to White House deputy chief of staff at the time this was all happening.

1:19 p.m.: Trump's motorcade arrives back at the White House.

Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis - Getty Images

1:34 p.m.: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser calls Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy asking for help from the Pentagon.

1:45 p.m.: The crowd gets past Capitol Police at the west steps. Officers are ready to declare a riot.

1:49 p.m.: Capitol Police ask the Pentagon for help from the National Guard. Trump tweets a video of his speech.

2 to 7 p.m.: The White House call logs go dark, and the president's daily diary is blank. There are no records. But from committee interviews with aides, we know Trump was mostly watching the show on TV in the dining room adjacent to the Oval Office.

2:03 p.m.: Trump had an eight-minute call with Rudy Giuliani.

2:12 p.m.: The mob breaches the Capitol Building. Vice President Mike Pence is evacuated from the Senate floor. An immediate recess is called.

2:15 p.m.: Rioters begin to chant, "Hang Mike Pence!" Hutchinson has testified that Meadows said Trump "thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn't think they're doing anything wrong." According to Liz Cheney, he also said, "Maybe our supporters have the right idea."

Photo credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS - Getty Images
Photo credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS - Getty Images

2:24 p.m.: "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution," Trump tweets, "giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!" This happens at almost the same time that a dispatcher confirms the mob has breached the Senate chamber and that the vice president, who is hiding only 100 feet from rioters, is being relocated. An anonymous White House official told the committee: "Members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives. There was a lot of yelling, a lot of very personal calls over the radio, so it was disturbing. I don't like talking about it, but there were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on and so forth. It was getting — for whatever the reason was on the ground, the VP detail thought that this was about to get very ugly."

Photo credit: Spencer Platt - Getty Images
Photo credit: Spencer Platt - Getty Images

2:26 p.m.: Trump calls Sen. Mike Lee, now under duress in the Senate chamber, but was actually looking for newly minted Sen. Tommy Tuberville. (The Guardian reported Trump made the call from a White House phone, so why wasn't it on the logs? This raises the question of how many other calls were made and also are not on the logs.) Some accounts of the call have been disputed, but what's for sure is what Tuberville told Politico: "I said, 'Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I’ve got to go.'" If he wasn't already (yeah, right), Trump was now aware that there was a threat to Pence. Elsewhere, rioters break into the offices of Nancy Pelosi.

2:38 p.m.: "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement," Trump tweets as people holding flags bearing his name assault cops. "They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!" At almost the same time, members of the paramilitary group the Oath Keepers breach the east side of the Capitol, making note in their private communication of the fact that Trump didn't say anything about supporting elected officials. Donald Trump Jr. texts Mark Meadows telling him to get his father to condemn the violence. At some point between 2 and 3 p.m., Jared Kushner is about to get into the shower when he receives a call from Kevin McCarthy, who tells Kushner "it was getting really ugly over at the Capitol, and said please, anything you could do to help, I would appreciate it."

2:44 p.m.: Capitol Police shoot and kill Ashli Babbitt as she tries to enter the barricaded Speaker's Lobby.

2:52 p.m.: An FBI SWAT team enters the Capitol.

3:13 p.m.: "I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!" Trump does not ask anyone to leave.

Around 3:30 p.m.: House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy gets a call from Trump. Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, who is listening nearby, later said she heard McCarthy tell the president the minority leader's own office had been broken into. This is part of a shouting match between the two. "Well, Kevin," Trump says, according to a report confirmed by the congresswoman, "I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."


3:49 p.m.: Pelosi and Schumer issue a joint statement asking the president to call off the rioters.

4:17 p.m.: Trump releases a video from the Rose Garden in which he finally urges the rioters to go home. It took him three tries to record it properly. Aides chose the least outrageous option, which still featured Trump telling the people currently sacking the Capitol, "We love you, you're very special." Hutchinson testified Trump was urged to do the video by aides who warned him he was at risk of being removed by his Cabinet through the 25th Amendment.

Around 6 p.m.: The National Guard arrive to secure the Capitol complex. Trump offers a tweet: "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!"

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