Politics

What President Trump did on Jan. 6 may never be fully known due to swift end to impeachment trial.

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Now, McCarthy was asking for help, begging the president to tell the mob clad in Trump gear to end the violence.

Instead, Trump blithely responded: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

The account of the tense call between the two political allies emerged late Friday from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who said in a statement that she had been briefed by McCarthy in detail about the call and that it had informed her vote last month to impeach Trump.

That the two men had exchanged heated words that afternoon had been previously reported. But Herrera Beutler’s vivid recounting of Trump’s callous disregard for the physical safety of his own allies briefly threatened to derail a swift end to Trump’s trial in the Senate on Saturday — and ultimately served as an emotional core of the House impeachment managers’ closing argument.

“The president . . . was essentially saying, ‘You got what you deserve,’ ” Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) told senators during his closing remarks. “At that point, he chose retaining his power over the safety of Americans. I can’t imagine more damning evidence of his state of mind.”

The Senate on Saturday acquitted Trump of a charge that he incited the mob that rampaged through the Capitol last month, fighting with police officers, rifling through congressional offices and briefly halting the final affirmation of Joe Biden’s victory; 57 senators, including seven Republicans, voted to convict, but the tally fell short of the 67 necessary to convict him.

The information from Herrera Beutler highlighted Trump’s absence in the face of the unfolding catastrophe that day. But it also illustrated questions that were not answered through the brief Senate trial and now may never be addressed, including a minute-by-minute accounting of Trump’s activities and inaction.

In response to Herrera Beutler’s statement, senators at first voted to depose new witnesses and gather new documents to try to answer some of those questions. After a delay, they backtracked, instead agreeing to introduce her statement into the congressional record and conclude the trial.

Among those who have not yet publicly said everything they know about that day: McCarthy himself. He has never described his call to Trump in detail, and he was again silent Saturday, even after Herrera Beutler’s account was made public and became central to the trial. Neither McCarthy nor Herrera Beutler responded to requests for comment.

Former Vice President Mike Pence also has said nothing publicly of what he experienced on Jan. 6, when he was hustled from the Senate chamber to a small office, then evacuated to safety with his family as Trump supporters trooped through the Capitol, some of them chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”

Trump had repeatedly attacked Pence to the crowd during a speech at the White House Ellipse that morning and later tweeted his anger that his vice president was refusing to overturn the election while presiding ceremonially over the vote count.

Speaking to Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Friday night, Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows alleged that the impeachment managers had created a “false narrative” to “suggest anything other than a very deliberate and quick action on the part of President Trump.”

But Meadows also has not provided a detailed accounting of what took place in the White House that day, and his comments have been contradicted by others aware of the president’s behavior.

And, of course, Trump himself declined a request by House impeachment managers that he testify about his actions.

Before the trial, Trump’s attorneys filed a legal brief asserting that he had been “horrified” by the violence and that the White House took “immediate steps” to mobilize resources to repel the mob.

In the proceedings, they spent little time detailing Trump’s activities during the riot, except to argue that they were not relevant to the impeachment charge that he had incited the mob and to accuse the House managers of relying on hearsay and rumor to describe Trump’s actions. Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen said they agreed to allow Herrera Beutler’s statement to be entered into the record but did not “stipulate to its contents for truthfulness.”

He then falsely claimed that the “proponents of that conversation, the real ones, have denied its content, its veracity” — only serving to highlight the silence from Trump and McCarthy.

Herrera Beutler said in her Friday statement that she had shared her knowledge of Trump’s call with McCarthy multiple times since voting to impeach Trump on Jan. 13. She relayed the details in a little-noticed Jan. 17 interview with a local Washington state newspaper and again to residents during a telephone town hall on Feb. 8. But the information did not become widely known until a CNN report late Friday.



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