Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Trump ‘chose not to act’ in the 187 minutes of Jan. 6 riot of Capitol

‘The president could’ve gone to a briefing room at any moment,’ Congressman says

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said former president Donald Trump “did not fail to act” during the 187 minutes between “leaving the ellipse and telling the mob to go home.”

“He chose not to act,” the Channahon Republican said of Trump.

Kinzinger made the statement during Thursday’s primetime Jan. 6 committee hearing — the eighth and final hearing of the summer. Kinzinger, along with U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Virgina, led the questioning of witnesses during the hearing focusing on 187 minutes of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, in which the panel said Trump failed to quell the mob, despite pleas for help from aides, allies and even his family.

Kinzinger said Trump acted that way because “the mob was accomplishing President Trump’s purpose, and he did not intervene.” He called Trump’s decision of inaction “a stain on our history.”

“Whatever your politics, whatever you think about the outcome of the election, we as Americans must all agree on this: Donald Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 was a supreme violation of his oath of office and complete dereliction of his duty to our nation,” Kinzinger said in his closing statement of the hearing.

Evidence presented Thursday showed Pat Cipollone, former White House counsel, saying he wasn’t aware of Trump, on Jan. 6, calling the defense secretary, the attorney general or the homeland security secretary. Keith Kellogg, former national security advisor, said he never heard Trump, on Jan. 6, ask for the National Guard or for a law enforcement response.

The committee said Trump spent his time on Jan. 6 at his usual spot watching Fox News. There is no official record of what he did, phone calls he made or records in the presidential diary. The chief White House photographer was told not to take photos.

Cipollone said he advised the president that rioters need to leave the Capitol, when he said he found out people were getting into the Capitol or approaching the Capitol in a way that was violent. Several people close to Trump requested the former president make a strong statement to condemn the rioters.

“The president could’ve gone to a briefing room at any moment,” Kinzinger said.

Sarah Matthews, then a press aide, said Thursday in testimony it would have taken less than 60 seconds for Trump to reach the briefing room. She said there is a camera available to go live at all times.

“If the president had wanted to make a statement to address American people, he could’ve done so almost instantly,” Matthews said.

Kinzinger said there was some worry about the president addressing the American people in an unscripted conference, because he rarely “had a clean press conference.”

Cassidy Hutchinson told the Jan. 6 committee Cipollone told Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff, the administration needed to do something more, because “they are literally calling for the vice president to be hung.”

Hutchinson said Meadows described Trump’s response to the “hang Mike Pence” chant to Cipollone.

“You heard him Pat, he thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong,” Hutchinson said.

Before hearing testimony, Kinzinger played a statement from Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, regarding Trump’s behavior Jan. 6:

“You know, you’re the Commander in Chief, you’ve got an assault going on on the Capitol of the United States of America. Nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?”

The committee showed some of the texts sent to Meadows, as White House aides tried to get the president to act. Meadows turned the texts over to the panel before he stopped cooperating.

“This is one you go to the mattresses on,” Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, texted Meadows. “They will try to f--- his entire legacy on this if it gets worse.”

“Mark, he needs to stop this, now,” texted Mick Mulvaney, Meadows’ former GOP House colleague and the former director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” texted Fox News Channel host Laura Ingraham.

As some of the worst of the fighting at the Capitol was still underway, and had been going on for hours, Trump put out the video at 4:17 p.m.

The committee showed video of Trump filming the statement, and a copy of the script he ignored. “I am asking you to leave the Capitol Hill region NOW and go home in a peaceful way,” the script said.

But the president did not actually say that, instead repeating baseless claims of voter fraud without condemning the violence. “So go home. We love you. You’re very special,” Trump ended up saying. “I know how you feel.”

The committee also showed outtakes of a speech prepared for Trump on Jan. 7 in which he was supposed to say the election was over. But he bristled at that line, telling a roomful of supporters, “I don’t want to say the election is over.”

In the outtakes, Trump was visibly angry — at one point hitting his hand on the podium — as he worked through the prepared remarks, with his daughter Ivanka and others heard chiming in with suggestions.

In the final video, Trump condemns the violence and says: “Congress has certified the results, and new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, one of two Republicans on the panel along with Kinzinger, said “the dam has begun to break” in regard to evidence against Trump. Despite Thursday being the last hearing scheduled for the summer, she said the committee has considerably more to do and more to share, and would spend August pursuing emerging information, then convene hearings in September.

“If there is no accountability for Jan. 6 – for every part of this scheme – I fear that we will not overcome the ongoing threat to our democracy. There must be stiff consequences for those responsible,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi.

Kinzinger said there’s still an “elephant in the room,” that people still support Trump.

“We the people must demand more of our politicians and ourselves,” Kinzinger said. “Oaths matter. Character matters. Truth matters. If we do not renew our faith and commitment to these principles, this great experiment of ours, our shining beacon on a hill, will not endure.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.