Trump cut call to prosecute Capitol rioters from Jan 7 speech draft, new video shows

Mr Trump appears to have cut language ‘directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawbreakers are fully prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law’ from remarks he delivered the day after a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Monday 25 July 2022 22:13 BST
Trump cut call for January 6 prosecutions from draft of speech
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Former president Donald Trump personally axed a call for the Department of Justice to prosecute January 6 rioters from a speech he delivered on the day following the attack.

House January 6 select committee member Elaine Luria made the draft document public on Monday morning by posting a video compilation of depositions by former Trump administration officials to her Twitter account.

According to testimony from ex-White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, the draft speech, titled “Remarks on National Healing”, was written by Trump adviser and speechwriter Stephen Miller at his request.

Mr Kushner said he intended to present the remarks to Mr Trump because he and other advisers “felt like it was important to further call for de-escalation”.

The draft document would have had Mr Trump say that he was “directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawbreakers are fully prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”.

“We must send a clear message — not with mercy but with justice,” Mr Trump was to say. He was to immediately add that “legal consequences” for the rioters “must be swift and firm”.

Another set of edits replaced the phrase “you belong in jail” with “you will pay” in the next paragraph of the speech.

But in the videotaped address released by the White House one day after the riot, Mr Trump never said those words. And a copy of the draft obtained by the House select committee shows why.

The copy of the draft speech released by the panel shows those words crossed out in a bold black marker.

Asked by committee staff if she recognised the distinctive handwriting on the document, former White House adviser Ivanka Trump said it appeared to belong to her father, the former president.

Mr Kushner, who is also Ms Trump’s husband, told the panel he did not know why Mr Trump wanted the passage calling for prosecution of the rioters to be excised from his remarks. But even without his direction, the Justice Department embarked on what officials describe as the largest investigation it has ever undertaken just days after the riot.

In the more than 18 months since the attack, the department has arrested nearly 900 of the estimated 2,000 people who illegally entered the Capitol on the day Congress was set to certify Mr Trump’s loss to Joe Biden. The department has also unveiled rarely-used seditious conspiracy charges against leaders of two right-wing extremist groups which participated in the attack, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

But Mr Trump’s unwillingness to call for his riotous supporters to face prosecution is consistent with other evidence presented by the select committee, including testimony indicating that Mr Trump considered issuing a blanket pardon to anyone arrested for participation in the attack.

Since leaving office, he has repeatedly suggested that prosecuted rioters are being singled out by the Biden Administration punishment and has declared on multiple occasions that he would issue pardons to anyone involved in the attack if he is returned to the White House after the 2024 presidential election.

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