Footage circulating online shows the Trump family and senior White House members partying in a jovial mood in the hours before Trump-inspired rioters besieged the Capitol building at his behest.
The footage was filmed by Donald Trump Jnr and shows him partying with his girlfriend, sister Ivanka, brother Eric, the president and other senior officials including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
The video appears to be taken right before Trump spoke at a rally for his supporters, calling on them to march on the Capitol building.
Trump roused his supporters “to fight” and to “take back our country” as he promised to join them.
“After this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” he told them.
“We're going to walk down to the Capitol.
“You’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
Trump did not actually join the mob, but retreated to watch the ensuing chaos in private, reportedly delighting in the early moments of the violent scenes being carried out in his name.
The pre-speech video shows the Trump family celebrating in a makeshift tent equiped with various monitors showing the crowds around the capital. The president, Ivanka and Eric can be seen watching the monitors closely a short while before the violence broke out.
Trump, Donald Jr, Kimberly Guilfoyle and others watching the crowd getting fired up hours before they stormed the Capitol, and dancing in enjoyment while the song Gloria is playing. Seems premeditated, no? pic.twitter.com/E6tHufOjiN
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) January 7, 2021
In the clip, Don Trump Jnr turns the camera on himself and thanks the soon-to-be rioters for doing his father’s bidding.
He called the protesters “patriots” who were “sick of the bullsh*t” and repeatedly urged them to “fight”.
Online, the video has drawn widespread criticism with many positing the “premeditated” demeanour of the Trump family.
After his speech, the president retreated to watch the chaos unfold on TV and, according to reports in The Washington Post, was resistant to requests to condemn the violence with one aide describing him in the moment as “a total monster”.
Outgoing Trump on the nose in Washington
As officials sifted through the aftermath of the pro-Trump mob’s siege of the US Capitol, there was growing discussion of impeaching the president for a second time, or invoking the 25th Amendment to oust him from the Oval Office.
The invasion of the Capitol building, a powerful symbol of the nation’s democracy, rattled Republicans and Democrats alike. They struggled with how best to contain the impulses of a president deemed too dangerous to control his own social media accounts but who remains commander in chief of the world’s greatest military.
What Donald Trump Jr and Rudy Giuliani did yesterday was incitement to violence. It is a violation of the law in the District of Columbia. No pardons can prevent prosecution by DC. Let it proceed forthwith
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) January 8, 2021
He fears prosecution and imprisonment. That’s what lawyers have been stressing to him for the last 24 hours. https://t.co/xHgI5VaPzN
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) January 8, 2021
“I’m not worried about the next election, I’m worried about getting through the next 14 days,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s staunchest allies.
He condemned the president’s role in Wednesday’s riots and said, “If something else happens, all options would be on the table.”
Neither option to remove Trump seems likely, with little time left in his term to draft the Cabinet members needed to invoke the amendment or to organise the hearings and trial mandated for an impeachment.
But the fact that the dramatic options were even the subject of discussion in Washington’s corridors of power served as a warning to Trump who has since been bent into condemning yesterday’s events, reportedly fearful of the possible legal repercussions he could face for incitement.
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