After supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, several White House staffers worried that they were unwitting participants in a coup, Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman reports.
The mob was incited by Trump, who wants to overturn the results of the presidential election. One staffer told a friend that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was warning officials to stay away from Trump, so they wouldn't appear to be assisting or enabling his actions, Sherman reports. By steering clear of the president, "they could reduce the chance they could be prosecuted for treason under the Sedition Act," he explained.
One Republican close to the White House told Sherman that several business leaders, horrified by what they saw happening at the Capitol, tried to call Trump to ask him to call off the mob, but he refused to take any calls. Some members of the GOP turned to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to see if he would intervene, but he also wasn't returning text messages or phone calls.