In this post, I noted that just nine minutes before accused January 6 defendant Brady Knowlton entered the Capitol at 2:35, Donald Trump called Tommy Tuberville. Later in the day, Rudy Giuliani would ask Tuberville to delay the vote certification by challenging more states. If that’s what Trump asked Tuberville to do on that first call and if Tuberville complied with Trump’s request, he and the rest of his colleagues might still have been in the Senate when Knowlton and others started to swarm in.
Instead, Tuberville told the President he had to go because the Senators were being evacuated, following shortly on the evacuation of Mike Pence just minutes before Trump called.
We only know of Trump’s call to Tuberville because Trump — and later Rudy Giuliani — dialed the wrong number, calling Mike Lee’s phone instead of Tuberville’s.
We don’t know who else Trump was calling at the time, though in recent days Jim Jordan has admitted he spoke to Trump that day, while dodging wildly about when that happened and what Trump said.
What we do know is that someone on the other side of the Capitol was doing exactly what Trump later asked Tuberville to do: Paul Gosar, who coordinated closely on all aspects of the insurrection with Trump, was raising more challenges to the vote.
That’s of particular interest because the NYT, in their superb documentary on the chronology of the day (starting at 25:40), suggests that the chain of events that led to Ashli Babbitt’s death started with Jim McGovern’s decision to get through one more person’s challenge of the vote, Gosar’s.
By 2:30 PM the Senate evacuation is well underway. But, even though a lockdown was called over 15 minutes ago, the House is still in session.
Gosar: I do not accept Arizona’s electors as certified.
Representative Jim McGovern is chairing. He told us he wanted to finish hearing objections to the election results by Paul Gosar. House staff and security gave McGovern the all-clear to continue. It’s a delay that likely cost someone their life.
Suddenly, staff are now pointing at the Chamber’s doors.
Please be advised there are masks under your seats. Please grab a mask and place it in your lap and be prepared to don your mask in the event we have a breach.
Just outside, a mob of a hundred or more is baying to get into them.
Well, we came this far, what do you say?
Drag ’em out.
Tell fucking Pelosi we’re coming for her.
These rioters pay little heed to the thin line of police.
They’re going. I would just stop.
And in moments, are pushing against doors into the House.
Stop the Steal! Stop the Steal!
On the other side, Capitol police erect a barricade and draw their guns. On the floor, lawmakers are evacuating to the rear of the chamber, where in a few minutes a rioter will be shot and killed. Part of the mob inside now peels off in that direction to find a different way in. Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and a QAnon supporter is among the first to arrive at the rear of the House.
There they are! What the fuck!
They see the lawmakers escaping. That lobby might have been clear had the House been evacuated sooner. But the rioters now become incensed. Zachary Alam, a Trump supporter punches in the glass panels with his bare fists.
Stop the Steal! Open the door. Break it down! Break it down!
Police are stretched extremely thin. Just three officers and a security officer stand guard. None are wearing riot gear and they keep their weapons holstered. When a team of heavily armed police now arrives, the three officers step aside.
Go! Let’s go! Get this thing!
This creates a crucial gap that allows rioters to smash in the glass. [A warning: what happens next is graphic.] It’s 2:44PM and behind the door a police officer draws his handgun.
There’s a gun. There’s a gun! He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!
Babbitt vaults into the window. And the officer shoots her once. It’s a fatal wound, through the upper chest.
Gosar’s challenge delayed the evacuation of the House, meaning that rioters spied the lawmakers evacuating through the Speaker’s lobby as they arrived. NYT suggests that viewing the lawmakers in such close proximity inflamed the rioters, leading Zach Alam to punch through the door and Babbitt to leap through it in an attempt to chase after them, in turn leading to an officer’s decision to use lethal force to protect fleeing Members of Congress.
One minute after Babbitt was shot, surveillance footage caught Knowlton entering the Senate Chamber at 2:45. Had Trump convinced Tuberville to stay, the same kind of confrontation might have happened in the Senate Chamber, too (and video shows that Mitt Romney, already a target for Trump’s supporters, narrowly avoided running into the mob as well).
If a Tuberville delay might have orchestrated a similar clash on the Senate side, it raises questions whether Trump was involved in the Gosar delay.
As it happens, Gosar is among the most active purveyors of the martyr myth surrounding Ashli Babbitt, including tweeting out this image that seemes almost necrophiliac in composition, with its focus on his crotch and her name.
But the fact that Trump was actively calling Members of Congress well after rioters stormed the building, and the fact that Gosar caused what the NYT deemed the fatal delay on the House side, it’s possible that he and Trump had a bigger role in ensuring that Babbitt jumped through that window to chase Gosar and his colleagues. It’s possible Gosar created that delay because Trump asked him to.
CNN reports that the January 6 commission is weighing whether to obtain White House call logs (Trump made the call to Tuberville from the main White House line).
The select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is weighing whether to pursue call logs from the Trump White House on the day of the riot, a move that could present a potentially thorny dilemma for President Joe Biden who would ultimately have to determine whether the records should be covered by executive privilege or qualify as essential evidence for the ongoing probe.
The committee has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Biden administration about its plans for the investigation as it has taken the lead role in examining all things related to January 6 and prepares to issue its first round of subpoenas, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
Phone records from former President Donald Trump’s White House will likely not be among the first subpoena targets as a source familiar with the matter told CNN that the committee has not broached the topic during preliminary discussions with the Executive Branch. But the panel is actively considering the possibility of pursuing those records and other relevant documents that could raise additional executive privilege questions, the source added.
Members of the committee, including GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, have made clear investigators must “get to every piece of information that matters” in order to piece together a detailed understanding of what Trump and his closest allies were doing that day.
Liz Cheney may well be thinking of tracking Trump’s calls to Kevin McCarthy. But the import of Gosar’s delay to the shooting of Ashli Babbitt by itself presents a good reason to subpoena those records.