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Former President Donald Trump claims he was “surprised” by the assault on Capitol Hill committed by his supporters, and adds that he “would have stopped” the mob had Secret Service only let him attend the scene in person.
In a new interview with the Washington Examiner’s David Drucker for his book In Trump's Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of the GOP, Mr Trump addresses the riot in detail with a reporter for the first time, while making no mention of the conspiracy theories blaming the violence on FBI or Antifa operatives infiltrating the crowd that have been spread by some of his supporters.
“I was not surprised when they went down to the Capitol to cheer,” the former president claims in the interview, according to an excerpt published on Tuesday by Business Insider. “But I was surprised that they went [into] the Capitol.”
"I wanted to go down with the crowd. I said I was going to go down with the crowd. But they wouldn't let me go," Mr Trump went on. "I think if I did go down there, I would have stopped the people from doing anything bad."
Several supporters of the former president died during the riot, with one being shot by Capitol Police while attempting to breach the House chamber and others dying of combinations of preexisting medical issues and the stress of the 6 January scene.
One Capitol Police officer died from a stroke in the days following the attack, with Washington DC’s medical examiner ruling that the violence he endured while being dragged by protesters contributed to his death. Four other officers died by suicide in the weeks after the siege.
The 6 January attack is viewed by many as one of the darkest moments in the modern history of US politics, as the mob’s intention was to force Congress to halt the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory and certify a victory for the former president instead.
Many Republicans have sought to downplay the violence, scope, and intentions of the mob in the months following the attack, or have blamed left-wing groups for supposedly infiltrating the crowd and driving it to madness.
Mr Trump’s role in the riot is being scrutinized by Congress as he held a rally outside of the White House in the hours and minutes leading up to the attack at which he directed supporters to “fight” for his false claims regarding the 2020 election.
A select congressional committee led by Rep Bennie Thompson and vice chair Rep Liz Cheney have vowed to force close aides to the former president to testify about the hours leading up to the attack, while Mr Trump has filed a lawsuit to block the committee from seeking records at the National Archives.