Trump’s Dubious Claim About ‘Hidden’ Tweets Exonerating Him for Jan. 6 Capitol Attack


Now that Twitter and Facebook have reinstated Donald Trump’s accounts, the former president says two Jan. 6, 2021, tweets that the “highly partisan January 6th Committee” tried to hide have now been “fully restored” and “fully exonerate me.” But the posts — which called for demonstrators at the U.S. Capitol to be “peaceful” — were discussed at length in the committee’s final report.

The tweets in question came about 25 minutes after rioters had breached the Capitol, and the final report from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol noted that by the time Trump issued the first of the two tweets, “Fox News was showing video of the chaos and attack, with tear gas filling the air in the Capitol Rotunda.”

Rather than exonerating the president, the report states, “Almost everyone, including staff in the White House also found the President’s 2:38 p.m. and 3:13 p.m. tweets to be insufficient because they did not instruct the rioters to leave the Capitol.” The report provided testimony and documents to support its claim that the tweets were considered “insufficient,” and that Trump resisted telling his supporters to leave.

Nonetheless, in a 10-page statement “on the witch hunt of Jan. 6th,” which Trump released on Feb. 14, he describes the social media posts as “new and irrefutable information” that exonerates him.

Trump, Feb. 14: I have been newly reinstated on Twitter and various other social media platforms, and my Tweets, which were taken down by Big Tech censorship, and thus seen by very few, have just been made public. My clear and unequivocal statements on January 6, 2021, which I conveyed to my over 100 million followers, are no longer under “wraps.” The highly partisan January 6th Committee did not want these messages to be part of the Historical and Legal Record, but they have now been fully restored— a sad shock to what I call the Unselect Committee of Political Hacks and Thugs.

The two exonerating Tweets, and the Rose Garden Video, which were posted in the early afternoon of January 6, 2021, and attempted to be hidden by the Unselect January 6th Committee, clearly and unquestionably state my desire that all protestors be peaceful and follow the Law.

Here are the tweets in question:

Trump also sent the same messages on Facebook.

Suspensions, Reinstatements

Twitter issued a “permanent suspension” of Trump’s account on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the riot at the Capitol. Twitter based that on two tweets Trump posted on Jan. 8. One said that the “American Patriots” who voted for him “will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” The second tweet said he would “not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter wrote.

“We assessed the two Tweets referenced above under our Glorification of Violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” Twitter wrote.

After Facebook removed two of Trump’s posts on Jan. 6, 2021 — posts that Facebook said violated its “Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” — the social media company the following day indefinitely suspended his account. Following a review of those decisions, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, ultimately decided to suspend Trump’s account for two years.

Both of those suspensions, from Twitter and Facebook, have since been lifted. Elon Musk, who had recently acquired Twitter, announced on Nov. 19, 2021, that he decided to lift Twitter’s suspension after a Twitter poll came out in favor of ending the suspension. “The people have spoken,” Musk tweeted. On Jan. 25, Meta announced that it was reinstating Trump on its platforms — Facebook and Instagram — as well.

In his written statement on Feb. 14, Trump blamed Twitter executives for “follow[ing] the wishes of Joe Biden and the FBI in censoring me, and cancelling my account.”

“Now that these new Statements on Twitter and Facebook have emerged, having a widespread and very positive impact on me, it is paramount for all examining the events of January 6, 2021, to be aware of this new and irrefutable information, as nothing can be more obvious as to its meaning — a meaning that was withdrawn from the public by Twitter’s censorship and the January 6th Unselect Committee’s lack of effort to find them,” Trump wrote. “Nevertheless, these vital and determinative Statements have now been made available, again, for all to see.”

Trump claimed the Jan. 6 committee ignored the social media posts “because the partisan members of that Committee did not want to acknowledge the fact that such Statements totally and completely exonerate ‘President Donald J. Trump.’”

It’s true that the posts Trump cited were not available to view on Facebook and Twitter while his accounts were suspended, and they are available for the public to view there now. But they were widely reported by the media at the time. In fact, we at quoted from them directly in a story posted Jan. 12, 2021.

It’s not true that the committee attempted to hide Trump’s posts and keep them from the “Historical and Legal Record,” as Trump claimed. They are included, and discussed in length, in the executive summary of the committee’s final report.

Committee Report Context

By way of context, the report notes that the Metropolitan Police Department officially declared a riot at 1:49 p.m. and that U.S. Capitol Police had begun calling for backup from the National Guard.

Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told the committee that shortly after 2 p.m. he met Trump in the White House dining room. Cipollone declined to discuss his conversations with Trump, but Cipollone said he made it “pretty clear [to Trump] there needed to be an immediate and forceful response, statement, public statement, that people need to leave the Capitol now.” It was a view, he said, that was echoed by “virtually everyone among senior White House staff,” the reports states.

Indeed, the report states, senior staff prepared a message on a notecard for the president to put out, which read, “ANYONE WHO ENTERED THE CAPITOL ILLEGALLY WITHOUT PROPER AUTHORITY SHOULD LEAVE IMMEDIATELY.” (The word “ILLEGALLY” was crossed out in a revision.)

Protesters gather on Jan. 6, 2021, fueled by then-President Donald Trump’s continued claims of election fraud. Photo by Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

But Trump “declined to make the statement,” the report states.

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the committee that she recalled Cipollone rushing into then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ office and warning him that something needed to be done because things were getting out of hand and “people are going to die.” Cipollone told Meadows that they need to see Trump immediately, but Meadows replied, “He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat,” Hutchinson recalled.

Former Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told the committee that soon after the Capitol’s perimeter was breached, “he urged that the President make a statement telling the rioters to go home,” according to the report.

At 2:13 p.m., the report notes, “rioters broke into the Capitol and flooded the building.”

At 2:24 p.m., in his first public statement about the attack, Trump tweeted (and later deleted): “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

The tweet came on the heels of Trump urging Pence — both before and during his speech at the rally on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021 — to send the electoral votes back to the states to have them recertified. “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing,” Trump said during his speech at the rally. “I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election … So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do.”

Moments after Trump posted the tweet about Pence, it was read aloud by one of the protesters using a megaphone. Shortly after, the crowd began chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!”

Former Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger told the committee the tweet “looked like fuel being poured on the fire,” and he decided in that moment he would resign. Former Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews told the committee the tweet, “was essentially him giving the green light to these people, telling them that what they were doing at the steps of the Capitol and entering the Capitol was okay, that they were justified in their anger.”

Minutes after the president’s tweet about Pence, the committee’s report states, “the crowds both inside and outside of the Capitol building violently surged forward” and broke through a security line held by the Metropolitan Police Department’s civil disturbance unit.

As the violence at the Capitol escalated, the report notes, Meadows’ phone was flooded with messages from supporters urging the president to intervene. For example, at 2:32 p.m., Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham wrote to Meadows, “Hey Mark, The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home.”

And at 2:35 p.m., former acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney wrote, “Mark: he needs to stop this, now.”

As Trump watched Fox News images of “the chaos and attack, with tear gas filling the air in the Capitol Rotunda,” he issued a tweet at 2:38 p.m., stating: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

But many in Trump’s circle believed that wasn’t enough.

For example, at 2:53 p.m., Donald Trump Jr. texted to Meadows, “He’s got to condem [sic] this shit. Asap. The captiol [sic] police tweet is not enough.”

Matthews, the then-deputy press secretary, said she told her boss, then-Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, that she didn’t think the president’s tweet went far enough and “that I thought there needed to be a call to action and he needed to condemn the violence.”

Matthews said McEnany told her “in a hushed tone” that Trump didn’t even want to include “any sort of mention of peace in that tweet and that it took some convincing on their part, those who were in the room. And she said that there was a back and forth going over different phrases to find something that he was comfortable with. And it wasn’t until Ivanka Trump suggested the phrase ‘stay peaceful’ that he finally agreed to include it.”

Trump wrote another tweet at 3:13 p.m., asking everyone at the Capitol to “remain peaceful. No violence!” and to “respect the Law.”

But again, Trump did not tell everyone to go home.

At 3:31 p.m., Fox News anchor Sean Hannity texted Meadows, “Can he make a statement. I saw the tweet. Ask people to peacefully leave the capital [sic].”

According to the committee’s report, “Almost everyone, including staff in the White House also found the President’s 2:38 p.m. and 3:13 p.m. tweets to be insufficient because they did not instruct the rioters to leave the Capitol.” And despite urging from numerous White House aides and Trump confidantes, “None of these efforts resulted in President Trump immediately issuing the message that was needed,” the committee’s report states.

According to the committee’s report, “Evidence showed that neither of these tweets had any appreciable impact on the violent rioters. Unlike the video-message tweet that did not come until 4:17 finally instructing rioters to leave, neither the 2:38 nor the 3:13 tweets made any difference.”

As the discussion in the executive summary of the committee’s final report makes clear, the committee did not attempt to hide Trump’s social media posts from that day. And the report does not suggest that the tweets “fully exonerate” Trump, as he claimed.

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