Speed Reads

TV President

Trapped GOP lawmakers apparently had to go on live TV to get Trump's attention during the Capitol siege

As hundreds of President Trump's supporters marauded through the U.S. Capitol during a six-hour siege Wednesday, evidently hunting Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress gathered to certify President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory, Republican lawmakers repeatedly called the White House for assistance, The Washington Post reports. They had stiff competition.

Trapped lawmakers "begged for immediate help during the siege," but "they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas," the Post reports. "Several Republican members of Congress also called White House aides, begging them to get Trump's attention and have him call for the violence to end. The lawmakers reiterated that they had been loyal Trump supporters and were even willing to vote against the electoral college results — but were now scared for their lives."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) eventually got through to Trump himself, but he "later told allies that he found the president distracted," the Post reports. "So McCarthy repeatedly appeared on television to describe the mayhem, an adviser said, in an effort to explain just how dire the situation was." Trump "was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV," one close Trump adviser told the Post. "If it's TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it's live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold."

Trump's aides and family members eventually convinced him to tweet for his supporters to "support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement" and "stay peaceful," but it wasn't enough, "and the president had not wanted to include the final instruction to 'stay peaceful,'" the Post reports. A subsequent video was also insufficient. "At one point, Trump worried that the unruly group was frightening GOP lawmakers from doing his bidding and objecting to the election results," the Post adds, citing an official and a close adviser, but for most of the siege, Trump "was busy enjoying the spectacle," watching "with interest, buoyed to see that his supporters were fighting so hard on his behalf."

Five people died, including four Trump supporters storming the Capitol and a Capitol Police officer, also a Trump supporter, killed protecting the building and its occupants. Read more at The Washington Post.