What Trump was Really Planning to Do
by Elizabeth Clark, Chair, Human Rights & Democracy Task Force
Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before a special session of the January 6 Committee hearing was indeed dramatic. It was also more of a game-changer than even the strongest reinforcement of the Committee’s narrative. That is because there is a difference between discovery that Trump knew about the attack on the Capitol and encouraged mobs supporting him to not let the fact that they were violating regulations in being armed hold them back from attacking and breaching the Capitol. The dramatic scene, told second hand by Hutchinson, that he tried to force his agents to drive to the Capitol so he could be with the crowd was relayed, as was their refusal to take him. That is the revelation in Hutchinson’s testimony. That is the real story—not “did Trump grab the steering wheel” or attack a Secret Service official accompanying him in the official vehicle he was riding in for the purpose of going to the Hill insurrection; neither was the story that what he wanted to do was to go to the Hill having already said it was a fine thing for the mob to be armed and that they should be allowed through any barriers and that any barriers preventing them from coming in to the Capitol Circle should be removed.
Does anybody think that Trump wanted to go up to the Capitol to mingle with his armed mob? Of course not. Trump wanted to go to the Capitol to lead his armed mob into the building to take back by violence the presidency he had lost in the election.
Commentators did go very slowly from using the phrase “evidence shows he knew about…” to the phrase “evidence shows he encouraged…” to TV anchor Chris Hayes (days later) saying Trump intended to “lead” the armed mob. It is clear that Trump believes power is founded in violence and that the only way he could achieve his goal of expressing his power and taking back his presidency was through such a violent revolt, through actively leading an armed mob onto the House floor where his VP, Mike Pence, was doing his job to count ballots and certify the election. Trump was not “encouraging” an overthrow of the certification of the election that Mike Pence was about to complete, as was his legal duty. He wanted to do that, of course, but then?
Commentators should be asking what was the vision in Trump’s head when he raged to be taken to the Capitol. It is not possible then he was thinking about walking along with the mob. He was their leader, no doubt in his mind storming onto the House floor to stop Pence from the certification process. Trump, his brain running in sync with his ego, probably seeing his thugs kicking Pence out of the room. He then sends these certifications, as he had said he thought should be done, back to the state legislatures. The Republicans would change the electors to a Trump team slate and send them back for “real” certification. Trump would be certified as President.
This speculation on what was in Trump’s mind makes it all the more clear that it is less important that Trump be indicted or convicted of a crime than that he be precluded from running for president in 2024. Thus, his highest objective must be stopped, and doing so becomes our highest objective.