Why Trump is still deflecting responsibility for Jan. 6–and blaming Pelosi

Media hit Trump on Putin Appeal

Seeking Release of Dirt on the Bidens.

Donald Trump says he wishes he could have marched to the Capitol on that fateful day.

Whether or not he really wanted to trudge a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue with a massive group of supporters–a president protesting outside the dome over an election he insisted he hadn’t lost?–this is yet another insight into his mindset about Jan. 6.

The increasingly partisan debate about the riot is heating up again, with the House voting to make criminal referrals of two more former Trump aides for defying subpoenas to testify. It often seems the arguments will rage forever between Democrats who want to hold people accountable (meaning Trump and his allies) for a criminal insurrection, and Republicans who think the other side is overdramatizing and exploiting the event for political reasons–and who in many cases question whether Joe Biden legitimately won the election.

THE MEDIA, APPALLED BY GRUESOME IMAGES FROM UKRAINE, IS TURNING HAWKISH 

Other tragedies–Pearl Harbor, 9/11–brought our country together. This one is ripping it apart.

A supporter of President Donald Trump holds up a sign as Trump’s motorcade departs Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. 
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In a 45-minute interview at Mar-a-Lago with Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey, the former president said of the Capitol protest: “Secret Service said I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute.” He also said the crowd he addressed on the Ellipse was the largest he’d ever spoken to, an echo of the crowd-size flap of his inauguration.

At least a dozen times, he blamed the riot on Nancy Pelosi, who has only partial oversight of the Capitol Police. “I thought it was a shame, and I kept asking why isn’t she doing something about it? Why isn’t Nancy Pelosi doing something about it? And the mayor of D.C. also. The mayor of D.C. and Nancy Pelosi are in charge. I hated seeing it. I hated seeing it. And I said, ‘It’s got to be taken care of,’ and I assumed they were taking care of it.”

Excuse me, the president of the United States, watching the riot on television and refusing appeals from his aides and from Ivanka to speak out for 187 minutes, assumed someone else was taking care of it?

(The 82-year-old Pelosi, by the way, tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday.)

Trump again denied destroying call logs or using a burner phone during that 7-hour gap in his recorded calls, a story that’s been largely debunked. “I don’t remember getting very many… Why would I care about who called me? If congressmen were calling me, what difference did it make? There was nothing secretive about it. There was no secret.”

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump, right, speaks before signing the National Security Presidential Memorandum to Launch the "Women’s Global Development and Prosperity" Initiative.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

When Trump did put out a video later that day, he told the mob: “Go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

In yesterday’s story, the 45th president also took a whack at the Jan. 6 committee for taking testimony this week from Ivanka, which he called a “shame and harassment.” But how is that the case since his daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner–who were both White House senior advisers–agreed to answer questions voluntarily? Trump said he didn’t know what they told the panel.

Many others are defying committee subpoenas, and the House just voted to hold two ex-aides–Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino–in criminal contempt. 

But is this all a slow-motion charade? The Justice Department still hasn’t acted on a criminal referral from December for former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The only person who’s been charged with contempt is Steve Bannon. 

Also yesterday, New York Attorney General Letitia James asked that Trump be held in contempt for not turning over documents under subpoena. Keep in mind that this is a civil case from the Democratic AG–James hasn’t even brought charges–but she is asking for fines of $10,000 a day.

To give you a sense of the contempt debate on the Hill, panel chairman Bennie Thompson said that Navarro and Scavino “must be held accountable for their defiance of the law.” But Republican Rep. Jim Banks accused the Dems of “abusing the seat of our democracy to attack American democracy.”

But the whole thing seems surreal. Democrats have also been held in contempt when Republicans ruled the Hill, but it’s extremely rare for someone to be prosecuted and get the maximum one-year jail sentence.

Merrick Garland’s department is looking into the 15 boxes of White House records, some marked top secret, that Trump took to Mar-a-Lago, the Post reported in a separate piece.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice, in advance of the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. 
(Carolyn Kaster/Pool via Reuters)

Meanwhile, a federal judge appointed by Trump has acquitted Matthew Martin of New Mexico of disorderly conduct charges for entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. His defense was that a police officer had waved him in, which prosecutors called nonsense.

Martin said he “enjoyed the day… It was a magical day in many ways.” He did add that “I know some bad things happened.”

That’s kind of an understatement. And what’s even worse is that the country remains deeply divided over what happened, who is to blame, and whether Trump–who the Post says refuses to abandon “the fantastical idea he could be reinstated”–bears some responsibility.

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