Trump was watching TV while riots took place: Washington Post – Business Insider – Business Insider

“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV. If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls,” one Trump advisor told the Washington Post.

  • President Donald Trump took several hours to respond to the insurrection at the Capitol building last Wednesday, despite numerous pleas from staff, advisers, and members of his own family.
  • A new report from The Washington Post says Trump was too busy watching the insurrection unfold on TV to do anything to quell it.
  • “He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV. If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls,” one Trump adviser told The Post.
  • The president, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, was also reticent to do anything because “he saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump was too busy watching the Capitol building insurrection violently unfold on TV to help quell it, advisors told The Washington Post.

Several senators trapped in the Capitol building during the siege told The Post they tried reaching out to the president for help, but their calls went unanswered. Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was forced to call Ivanka Trump when the president failed to pick up the phone.

Trump, said Graham, was seemingly mesmerized by footage of his followers storming the Capitol, and couldn’t turn away from the screen.

“It took him a while to appreciate the gravity of the situation,” Graham told The Post. “The president saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen.”

Read more: Trump tweeted angrily about Mike Pence while the vice president was being attacked at the Capitol Building, and then gave him the silent treatment for several days

“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” one Trump advisor told the paper. “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 has long viewed his presidency through the lens of TV – some estimates say he watches up to five hours of cable news a day – so it’s hardly surprising that he would opt to view the insurrection on-screen. He’s also often used low television ratings as a means of insulting a person or organization. 

For example, in August, Trump lambasted the NBA for its decision to allow athletes to kneel during the national anthem, warning that it would negatively impact the league’s ratings.

“Look at the basketball ratings. They are down to a very low number,” he said. “There was a nastiness about the NBA the way it was done, too. The NBA is trouble. Big trouble. Bigger trouble than they understand.”   

He also regularly bragged about the ratings of his daily coronavirus briefings, once boasting that his briefings were as popular as the season finale of “The Bachelor.”

Still, aides told The Post they were surprised by Trump’s unwillingness to take action as events were unfolding. White House staff alerted the president to the events at the Capitol Building at around 2 p.m. ET, but rather than urge his followers to remain calm, he took the opportunity to send out a tweet expressing his disappointment with Vice President Mike Pence. 

Read more: House Democrats introduce an article of impeachment charging Trump with incitement of insurrection

“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!” President Trump wrote at 2:24 p.m., as the mob was breaching the building.  

A few minutes later, he followed up with a tweet urging the crowd to “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”

But getting Trump to do more than tweet was difficult, according to advisors. At around 4 p.m. ET, they had the president film a video in which he referred to the insurrectionists as “very special people” and told them “I know how you feel.”

“We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home, and go home in peace,” he said. 

Other politicians, including Sen. Kevin McCarthy, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said they also struggled to connect to the president on the afternoon of January 6.

“The president caused this protest to occur; he’s the only one who can make it stop,” Christie said on ABC News.

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module

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