Trump himself secretly planned armed coup to overthrow the government
An image of former President Donald Trump talking to his chief of staff Mark Meadows is seen on screen at the hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol | Sean Thew / Pool via AP

The January 6 Committee hearings Tuesday pulled together and exposed for the nation and the world the secret plans by former President Donald Trump to send a mob of his seditious supporters to storm the Capitol and halt certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 elections.

As if that were not enough of a bombshell, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., disclosed at the end of Tuesday’s session that the ex-president is far from finished with his historic crime spree as he engages now in criminal tampering with witnesses slated to talk to the committee.

The latest revelation is just one of many stunning and criminal acts by the former president as he, even until today, tries to reverse the voters’ verdict of November 2020.

Cheney told the nation live on national television that the committee has informed the Justice Department of the attempt at witness tampering by the ex-president.

The person Trump tried to contact refused to answer or respond to his call in any way, according to Cheney.  Instead, the witness with whom Trump tried to tamper alerted a lawyer who, in turn, informed the committee.

Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks at Tuesday’s hearing. Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., left, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., listen. | J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The big bombshell at Tuesday’s session, however, involved the rollout of details and results of an “unhinged” late-night meeting at the White House with Trump’s outside lawyers. At that meeting, proposals were discussed to have the military seize state voting machines to pursue false claims of voter fraud. Almost immediately after that secret gathering at the White House, the defeated president instead set in motion his own plan to send an armed civilian mob to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to stop certification of the Biden victory. Deciding he would not be able to get the military to seize machines,  Trump decided instead to dispatch armed insurrectionists to do the job of halting certification of the election.

After at least 61 lawsuits and his claims of voter fraud collapsed, Trump met late into the night of Dec. 18 with a hand-picked team of sycophants at the White House before tweeting the call to a rally at the Ellipse—“Be there, will be wild!”

Almost immediately, numerous fascist organizations supporting the president moved into action.

Members of those groups, including the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, are now facing sedition charges by the Justice Department over the siege and their role in the rally, in a march to the Capitol that followed, and in the attack on the Capitol itself.

“This (Trump) tweet served as a call to action—and in some cases a call to arms,” said Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a member of the Jan. 6 Committee Tuesday.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone testified to the committee earlier this week that he had told Trump that seizure of the machines by the military was a “terrible idea” and that he had told him, “That’s not how we do things in the United States.” Clips of that testimony by Cippolone were shown at the hearings. Neither he nor many others knew, at the time, that Trump was hatching a backup plan for an armed coup on Jan. 6.

Cipollone and other White House officials struggled to derail the late-night meeting where military seizure of voting machines was being planned by Trump and his attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, retired national security aide Michael Flynn, and the head of the online retail company Overstock.

Demanded to see the evidence

“Where is the evidence?” Cipollone demanded of the false claims of voter fraud.

“What they were proposing, I thought, was nuts,” testified another White House official, Eric Herschmann.

But Trump liked the idea of seizing machines and using the military and told his White House lawyers that at least Powell and outside allies were “trying to do something.” In any case, he had his own secret plan of having his own armed contingent of supporters seize control of the Capitol.

“You guys are not tough enough,” Giuliani said at the meeting and then added a vulgar insult in video testimony about the White House attorneys.

At the crack of dawn, right after the meeting, Trump tweeted his call for supporters to come to Washington. It was the first step in his plan for pulling off the coup on Jan. 6.

Right after the tweet, the fascist groups went into full mobilization.

The Jan. 6 committee showed violent text messages and played videos of right-wing figures, including Alex Jones and others, laying out that Jan. 6 would be the day they fight for the president.

In disgusting and racist language, the messages beaming across the far-right forums planned for the big day that they said Trump was calling for in Washington. It would be a “red wedding,” said one, a reference to mass killing that would happen. “Bring handcuffs.”

Several members of the U.S. Capitol Police who fought the mob that day at the Capitol sat in stone-faced silence in the front row of the committee room Tuesday as they watched and listened to the all-too-real horror story.

Among the new things revealed and perhaps the most important thing were the details of how that armed and dangerous mob ended up in the Capitol itself on Jan. 6.

It became clear that Trump had planned on the armed march to the Capitol long in advance and that it was not a spontaneous outgrowth of the rally at the Ellipse. The committee has established that the former president kept the plans for the march itself secret and only a few of the closest conspirators knew about it.

Trump kept the march under wraps so that no federal agencies would have a chance to plan for it in advance. He wanted the armed attackers to get into the Capitol while Congress was meeting to certify his defeat, and he wanted to go on the march with them but was stopped by members of his Secret Service and a few aides who thought he would be in danger and would implicate himself in the plot directly if he actually went. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone had warned that the Trump administration would be charged with “every crime imaginable” if Trump himself marched to the Capitol that day.

Incredibly, people like the buffoonish “MyPillow guy,” Mike Lindell, knew about plans that Trump was keeping from his own government agencies. The president wanted to conceal the fact that, for the first time ever, the leader of the United States was planning an attack on his own government.

Included in the dramatic testimony Tuesday were remarks by Stephen Ayres, convicted for joining in with the insurrection inside the Capitol that day. Ayres had pled guilty to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.

The Ayres testimony made it clearer than ever that Trump himself was at the head of the armed attack on the Capitol, just as he had been at the head of all the earlier plans to overturn the election in the courts and the plans to pressure state lawmakers and election officials to throw out legitimate votes and plans to form committees of fake electors.

Ayres was asked how he ended up in Washington that day. “I followed Trump on social media,” he said, “and felt the need to be at the rally because I believed, as Trump was saying, that the election was stolen…. We didn’t plan to go to the Capitol, but when the president urged us to go and said he would go with us, we decided to go.”

Ayres said that later that afternoon, when the president finally told people to go home, he, unlike some of the people in the Capitol, left the building and that as time passed he realized the claims of election fraud were false. “Had I realized that beforehand,” he said, “I probably would never have gone down there.”

Ayres, after his testimony, walked over to apologize to Capitol police officers in attendance at the hearing. Some accepted his apology, but others did not.

Officer Harry Dunn, one of the African-American cops attacked by the almost entirely white crowd, acknowledged the apology but refused to accept it. “He owes his apology to the American people and to the world,” Dunn said Tuesday night. He noted that everyone in the dangerous mob bore responsibility for endangering democracy, regardless of whether they individually assaulted anyone. “They were part of something for which they must all be held accountable,” Dunn said.

Ayres was just one of many witnesses who have told the committee and the Justice Department in its separate ongoing probe that they thought they were doing the will of the former president when they went on a march, that they did not know there would even be a march until they attended the rally before the march.

In his opening remarks at the hearing, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., put the violent insurrection that day in perhaps the best context when he said, “The problem of politicians whipping up mob violence to destroy fair elections is the oldest domestic enemy of constitutional democracy.”

The Jan. 6 committee is continuing to probe whether the extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and QAnon adherents who had rallied for Trump before, coordinated with White House allies for Jan. 6.

The committee has already connected Trump allies Flynn and Roger Stone with the right-wing extremist organizations that went to Washington.

Showed pictures of Trump allies with the fascists

It showed a picture of Rhodes, the Oath Keeper leader, walking with Flynn, the former national security advisor to Trump, outside the Capitol.

Tuesday’s hearing followed former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony last week detailing how an angry and bitter Trump knowingly sent his armed supporters to the Capitol. He then refused for hours to call them off as violence broke out, siding with the insurrectionists as they hunted down Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Trump has said Cassidy’s account is not true, but Cipollone, at Friday’s closed session with the Jan. 6 committee, did not contradict her testimony. Raskin said the panel planned to use “a lot” of Cipollone’s testimony, much of which may be revealed at the next public session of the committee, now postponed from the original date to next Thursday.

Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty in June 2022 to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, left, and Jason Van Tatenhove, an ally of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, right, are sworn in to testify. | J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Making things more difficult for Trump, who will be looking for an avenue of defense, the Proud Boys have bragged about their association with him. They said their membership grew after Trump, during his first debate with Biden, refused to outright condemn them but instead told them to “stand back and stand by.”

The Oath Keepers, the Jan. 6 committee has shown, had been prepping for weeks for Jan. 6 and had a “quick response force” at a nearby hotel in Virginia, according to court filings.

The committee also noted that many of the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol were QAnon followers. Federal authorities have explicitly linked about 40 insurrectionists to that particular pro-Trump conspiracy theory, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

One of the most recognizable figures from the attack was a shirtless Arizona man who called himself the “QAnon Shaman.” He carried a spear, wore face paint and a Viking hat with horns, and wore a fur shawl.

The Jan. 6 committee has thus far shown, since the hearings began, via eyewitness accounts from the former president’s inner circle, that Trump was told “over and over,” as Cheney, said, that he had lost the election and his claims of voter fraud were just not true.

Cipollone told the committee that once the Electoral College met in December to certify Biden as the winner Trump was told by his innermost and top aides that things had gone far enough and he should concede. The list included Cipollone himself, former Attorney General William Barr, and Trump’s own daughter, Ivanka Trump, among many others.

Despite this and knowing full-well that he had lost the election, Trump called armed supporters to Washington and then set them loose on the Capitol in what Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has declared was an “attempted coup.”

There is no way of avoiding the obvious conclusion that the ex-president is a criminal who must be held to account for his crimes against the people. Preservation of democracy in the U.S. requires it.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.