in these parts Landslide: The Last Days of the Trump Presidency, by Michael Wolfe The author gives a detailed account of the inertia of the White House on the day the Capitol was attacked
Lunch was waiting.
Don Jr. and Kimberly Gilfoy, and Eric and Lara Trump leave the White House, and Ivanka has moved around.
Trump was back on the phone trying to get new information about Pence. Arizona had the first objection to the joint session called at 1 p.m. He was looking for coverage of the breakout, but only C-SPAN seemed to be on it. Allies had now come to such an extent to rationalize it all as an exercise to take the issue of voter fraud down the neck of the mainstream media, it also seemed to fail.
Rudy called from Willard, where he had watched the remainder of the president’s speech and, seeing the first mention of chaos in the streets, gave a breathless report on Pence, but without any further information. That said, he was also promising that at least six states would be contested, hence a volatile situation—we didn’t know what was going to happen (his breathlessness was only increasing). Meadows was in close contact with Jim Jordan. But the description Jordan was giving was unsatisfactory.
In fact, various Congress supporters seemed less excited now that their rebellion would be covered only by C-SPAN.
There were early reports about crowds gathering at the Capitol, but television news was yet to register a threatening sense of disorder. The president was still surprising people about the size of the crowd, sure the VP would understand that the base was firmly behind the president.
His full focus was on what was happening inside the Capitol building and what he still believed would or could be a radical change in his fortunes in the coming hours.
Mark Short was standing behind on the floor of the House presided over by his boss. He was receiving, if not congratulations, at least certain signs of confirmation from both Republican House and Senate members. These were small gestures at something so big that you can’t make big gestures—just a sigh of relief. What would have been the only constitutional crisis in the nearly 250 years of the republic, would have been averted. Even Mo Brooks, who was leading the ritual objections on behalf of the House, showed his thumb.
When the House and Senate broke to consider Arizona’s objection, each for a mandatory two-hour debate in their respective chambers, Short decided to go down to the Capitol Grille and get a cheeseburger.
The parliamentary process that has just begun represents yet another anomaly in this highly irregular day. In theory, the president was waging an extraordinary legislative battle that had hardly any precedent—the culmination of a two-month battle in which he gave little thought to both his immediate future.
And his place in history depended. But apart from his own tweets and uproar, and his meeting with the vice president the day before, no one in the White House was participating or even attending much of the fight.
In addition to overseeing the complex and far-reaching functions of the executive branch, the White House also manages a political operation whose function is
To exert its influence and leverage on the legislative branch. Arguably, the Trump White House did none of these tasks very well. But at this time no political program was taking place.
There was no one to vote on behalf of the White House. There was no one on the White House side who was particularly up-to-date other than public reports about who might be with or against him.
True, there is hardly anyone left in the White House. Yet, even in the weak days of the presidency, there were doctrinal bets that Trump’s alumni and aides could reasonably be brought back into action. This did not happen—rather, quite the contrary: even the longtime loyalists had all fled and were out of reach.
Kushner—one of the key Hill contacts in the White House for the leadership of Congress and the man most able to efficiently mobilize White House resources, at least to the extent that anyone could—back from the middle The former was almost completely out of pocket on his flight.
Rudy was there, of course. But the rest of the insiders, who were trying to keep as far away from the White House as possible, understood that Rudy had little to do with members of Congress, and that those who belonged to him were bad. Hanging everything over the White House, what would happen Congress, was as remote from Capitol Hill and as far from the process there as it was before.
To the extent, as the media darkly warned, that there was an extraordinary conspiracy to seize power – an early coup, even though there were actually only two conspirators and no one to support them. . Trump had no working political staff, the office of White House counsel was closed (to the extent that the office was functioning, it was focused almost entirely on pardon petitions), and the Justice Department’s leadership was disorganized. Was.
Still, the President and Rudy, in their bubble world, remained convinced that there was success to grab them.
At 1:49 pm the President retweeted a video of his Ellipse speech. At the same time, the rioters broke the door of the Capitol.
At two o’clock, the president and Giuliani—the president in the White House and Giuliani in the Willard—tried to find Tommy Tuberville, most recently a senator from Alabama, but he instead mistakenly named Mike Lee, the Utah senator, after him. Called. cell phone. Lee, in growing confusion, found Tuberville and put him on the phone as soon as news of the mob breaking the capitol’s fence began to arrive. The President and Giuliani had no idea what was happening at the Capitol, and Tuberville either failed to tell them or thought better of trying.
At 2:11 p.m., the New York Times reported that rioters had entered the Capitol.
At 2:13 pm the Vice President was pulled from the Senate floor.
Mark Short had found his cheeseburger upon becoming aware of the crowd and the Capitol police. Against people pushing downstairs to exit the building, he made his way upstairs, exposed to details of VP’s Secret Service, Pence and his family—his wife, Karen, and daughter Charlotte and brother Greg. – Arrived from the ceremonial office that the Vice President, as President of the Senate, lives only a short distance from the Senate Chamber. The Secret Service pressed for evacuation but the vice president resisted. The Secret Service then tried to escort the Vice President and his family to a safe convoy where they could wait. The vice president understood that the car could depart at will and that it would have a lasting effect: a fleeing vice. They settled to retreat to a “safe place” – a secret fortified shelter within the Capitol.
At about 2:15 p.m., Boris Epshtein, watching television in Giuliani’s suite at Willard, was one of the first people in the Trump circle to begin with a sense of panic about what was happening. Epshtein spoke to Miller, who called Meadows.
“I’m sure you’re tracking it,”
“Yeah I know. There are some things going on here that I just can’t get into at the moment . . . ” Meadows said.
Miller admitted that the White House was mobilizing the National Guard. At 2:20 pm both the House and the Senate adjourned.
At 2:24 p.m., the president was notified that Mike Pence did not reject Arizona Biden voters, tweeting:
Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, giving the states a chance to certify a true set of facts, not the fraudulent or wrong people whom they called Was asked to authenticate earlier. America demands the truth!
Reading the tweet at the Capitol bunker now that the siege is in place, Pence and Short hardly noted for the first time how far the president could be from the page everyone else was on. That was a generous explanation.
In part, the president did not understand the facts as he was coming through the growing crowd, barricades broke, protesters entered the Capitol. Or maybe he simply disagreed with them: these people were opposing the election, he was still repeating until 2:30. The protesters wanted Pence to do the right thing. These were good performers, their demonstrators.
Indeed, a new aspect of the Capitol breach was that it was filmed by so many protesters. It would become a sub-theme of later Republican revisionism that these were just tourists, people participating in the democratic process, running among themselves.
“I was in! I was in!” A man with a camera screams as the barrier falls.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people suddenly flocked to the Capitol, with one voice on video shouting: “Let’s go, let’s go.”
Permission excerpts from Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency by Michael Wolfe, published by The Bridge Street Press.
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Landslide: Last Days of Trump Presidency
Bridge Street Press