Donald Trump has opened the floodgates “to disorder and corruption” and must be held legally responsible for the January 6, 2021 attack, the chairman of the House of Inquiry into the assault on the Capitol said Thursday.
• Read also: Attack on the Capitol: the commission reveals what Trump did (and did not do) on January 6
The former Republican president "tried to destroy our democratic institutions," Bennie Thompson said during a primetime hearing, which wraps up a series of public presentations of his commission's work.
“He paved the way for disorder and corruption”, further asserted the elected Democrat who, sick with Covid, intervened by video link.
For him, all those responsible for the attack, including at the White House will have to "answer for their actions before the courts". "It will take severe consequences, otherwise I fear that our democracy will not recover."
Two members of the commission then presented the day of January 6, 2021 as experienced “minute by minute” by Donald Trump, whom they accused of having “failed in his duty” as commander-in-chief, by doing “nothing to prevent his supporters from wreaking havoc in the Capitol.
Yet it was he who had summoned them to Washington, the day the parliamentarians were to certify the victory of his Democratic rival Joe Biden in the presidential election.
Around noon, in a fiery speech in the heart of the capital, he had asked them to "fight like the devils" against supposed "massive electoral fraud". He then returned to the White House, while the crowd launched an assault on the temple of American democracy.
He had taken more than three hours before calling on his supporters to leave the premises. “I know your pain,” he finally told them in a video posted on Twitter. "But we have to go home now."
Thursday's hearing before the House of Representatives committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans repudiated by their party, must return to what happened between these two speeches.
Innaction de Trump
Entrenched in the private dining room of the White House, Donald Trump followed the attack on television "while his close advisers and family members begged him to intervene", described the elected Democrat Elaine Luria .
But “President Trump refused to act because of his selfish desire to hold on to power,” she added.
During all this time, he “did not pick up his phone once to order his administration to lend a hand” to the overwhelmed police, had already underlined the elected Republican Liz Cheney.
Matthew Pottinger, then deputy national security adviser, and Sarah Matthews, deputy spokesperson, were summoned as witnesses to tell the backstage of this sinister day. Both had resigned after January 6.
The commission is also expected to show extensive video clips of Pat Cipollone's testimony: the former White House legal adviser recently said his former boss should have conceded defeat.
The hearing could also return to the efforts made the next day by Donald Trump's advisers to have him denounce the violence against the Capitol in a video, and on his difficulty in doing so.
More auditions to come
This public session is the eighth in six weeks and the second broadcast in prime time throughout the country. The previous ones have focused, among other things, on the role of the far right in the assault or on the pressure exerted on electoral agents by Donald Trump and his relatives.
The "January 6 commission" will then withdraw from public scrutiny to work on its final report, which will be delivered in the fall.
But she will continue to collect testimonies and documents and new hearings will take place in September, according to Bennie Thompson.
Whatever his recommendations, the decision to prosecute Donald Trump will rest with Justice Minister Merrick Garland, who does not rule it out. "No one is above the law," he said Wednesday.
Donald Trump, who openly flirts with the idea of running for president in 2024, vehemently denounces the work of the commission and would not fail to present himself as the victim of a political cabal if he were indicted.