How Trump’s Ad-Libbed Changes Led Directly to Assaults on Cops

In yesterday’s January 6 Committee hearing, Stephanie Murphy laid out how, after Eric Herschmann intervened to take out references to Pence, Trump added them back in. Then, even during his speech, he added 7 references to Pence and 3 extra calls to march to the Capitol. His claim he was going to go to the Capitol (which we know he intended to do, though everyone was working hard to prevent it) was also ad-libbed, though organizers like Kylie Kremer knew about it days in advance.

There are at least a dozen — probably dozens of — people charged with various crimes on January 6 who cited that ad-libbed line, that Trump was going to join the rioters at the Capitol, to explain their decision to go. As Stephen Ayers said in his testimony yesterday, everyone believed Trump would be with them.

Devlyn Thompson is another example. His sentencing memo explained that his autism made what ensued particularly confusing. It cited a psychological evaluation in which he explained how confused and angry that lie made him.

He did not go to the Capitol to overthrow the government. Rather, he believed former President Trump when Trump said …. “After after this [his speech], we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down.” Trump says three times in that one sentence alone that he was going to be walking down [Pennsylvania Avenue] with the protestors, adding for emphasis that he will be there “with you.” Mr. Thompson literally believed this was what was going to happen, and of course it did not.


I got there — on the West side and I’m standing there and there were altercations happening. I still thought there was going to be a speech.


In that moment, I thought I was going to watch a speech, there was no speech. That fueled my anger. It became a lot harder to make good decisions.


If he knew there was no security, no activity, why would he send upset people? There was nothing to hold their attention. His actions were inconceivable. He created a lot of problems and he didn’t even go. The most underreported part of this is that there was supposed to be a speech at the Capitol.

After watching confrontations at a barricade, Thompson entered the Tunnel and participated in the group assault — including by helping to steal riot shields — before hitting a cop with a police baton himself.

Thompson is serving a 46-month sentence for his actions that day, actions which he directly attributed to an ad-libbed line Trump added into his speech to rile up his supporters.

It worked.

January 6 Committee Hearing Coverage

June 9 Hearing (Peaceful Transfer of Power): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweet; post

June 13 Hearing (The Big Lie): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweetpost

June 21 Hearing (Election workers): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweetpost

June 23 Hearing (DOJ officials): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweetpost

June 28 Hearing (Cassidy Hutchinson): Rayne’s open threadlive-tweetpost

July 12 Hearing (Stephen Ayers): Rayne’s open thread; live-tweet

38 replies
  1. RMD says:

    Leaked Audio: Before Election Day (10-31-20), Bannon Said Trump Planned to Falsely Claim Victory …. ~Mother Jones. https(colon)//www(dot)

    give the audio of Bannon a listen…. to fully appreciate the comments

  2. Silly but True says:

    OOH, manipulation of crowds / mob is a thing, both that people may exploit, and is something to be weary of.

    OTOH, being so angry at not seeing someone give a speech that you start randomly beating on random police officers is on Thompson.

    Hopefully he uses his 46 months productively; there are many resources that he can avail himself of that can help with managing his anger.

  3. Savage Librarian says:

    Fee, Fum, Foe, Fie

    More than an apple of my eye:
    All the MAGA’s baked in a pie,
    standing back & standing by,
    answered my calling and let it fly.

    If I told them “do or die”,
    they’d not ask once or reason why,
    I set their vengeance so damn high,
    they let loose their battle cry.

    I just had to give them my
    Fee, fum, foe, fie,
    together with Trump’s Big Lie,
    ‘cause MAGA mobsters are not shy.

    Back made a stand & so did by,
    I hardly even had to try,
    because I’m just that kind of guy,
    Fee, fum, foe, fie.


    “Heston’s guests eat 4 and 20 pigeon pie”

    “Heston bakes 4 and 20 blackbirds in a pie”

    • timbo says:

      For which there is weak alibi… possiblye?

      Ah, to hone the indefensible until it is almost perfect, is such the life of a flinted poet?

  4. rattlemullet says:

    Based on this reading, trump is the mob boss ordering the hit or he is the man at the wheel in the get away car. When law enforcement or participants in the action are killed he is guilty of the act and changed with the same crimes. Has anyone been charged with the murder of any of the law enforcement officers? Did not five of them die? If not murder manslaughter minimally. The facts remain the same since 1/6, a mob was called to the scene, the mob proceeded on trumps orders, republican politician conspired with trump, along with his batshit crazy attorneys. The coup attempt only fail because of the keystone cop leadership. The former guy and his his republican cohorts need to be healed accountable like the retreads that stormed the capital. If they are not held accountable America will have failed in upholding the required oath to the constitution and the constitution itself. More and more the oath becomes meaningless.

    TFG is the epitome of everything wrong with the human race.

    • RMD says:

      References to 5 officers dying on Jan 6… are not accurate.
      — Officer Sicknick (Capitol Police) was attacked by the mob and suffered multiple strokes that day– he died Jan 7 “all that transpired played a role in his death” (DC Med Examiner)
      — One Metropolitan Police officer killed himself after the attack.
      — One Capitol Police officer died by suicide four days afterward.
      — Two Metropolitan Police officers died much later (July) by suicide
      source: https(colon)//www.nytimes(dot)com/2022/01/05/us/politics/jan-6-capitol-deaths.html

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Odds are pretty high that the events of January 6th figured prominently in those suicides.

      • Fraud Guy says:

        Five law officers or participants died:
        Sicknick (as noted)
        Ashli Babbit (shot during the attempt to breach the Senate chamber doors)
        Benjamin Phillips (stroke/heart attack during the day)
        Kevin Greeson (heart attack)
        Rosanne Boyland (trampled/crushed in the crowd surging to into the Capitol)

        • RMD says:

          from NYT summary:
          (4) in the crowd died on Jan 6:
          – Ashli Babbitt (shot)
          – Kevin D. Greeson (heart attack)
          – Rosanne Boyland (crushed)
          – Benjamin Philips (stroke)

          (5) officers serving at the Capitol died after the event:
          three directly afterward
          – Officer Jeffrey Smith Jan 6-7 (suicide)
          – Officer Brian D. Sicknick Jan 7 (stroke)
          – Officer Howard S. Liebengood Jan 10 (suicide)
          two much later:
          (2) Metropolitan Police who served Jan 6, died in July
          — Gunther Hashida (suicide)
          — Kyle DeFreytag (suicide)

        • rattlemullet says:

          Thank you, I greatly for this information. It only makes it worse for the conspirators, republican congress persons, republican operative, and trump, who coordinated the attack to over throw the duly elected president. May they all suffer the most punitive form of justice.

      • rattlemullet says:

        Your point being…..death can occur after the assault, any death that has been cause by the mob actions directed by trump, he is still an accessory to the crime. The fact remains officers died as a result of the mob action so by your post “them the breaks”.

  5. Rayne says:

    Public Service Announcement: If you replied to the sockpuppeting troll’s comment, your reply along with the sockpuppet’s have been deleted.

    Trolls attempt to deny service to site users by injecting crappy comments to derail discussion. In this case there were 9 comments in reply to or about the troll’s comment, all off topic. Please consider the possibility you’re being trolled when a comment by an infrequent or unrecognized username presses your buttons. Thanks.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      I’m sorry I can’t link the article, but there was a study reported in Science News several years ago in which it was shown with depressing exactitude how easy it is to derail discussion in on-line forums. 1) It’s easy to raise the temperature and then, 2) people who are exercised by anger become less rational. After seeing the results of the study, the publication discontinued on-line comments. It’s thanks to Rayne, Bmaz, and perhaps others that I don’t know about that this site is cogent.

      In the study it was shown that even a mild comment questioning the results being reported had a big effect on whether people accepted the reporting as accurate.

  6. Nick Caraway says:

    Rolling Stone now carrying speculation that Mark Meadows being set up to be Trump’s fall guy.

    “Trump’s inner circle increasingly views Meadows as a likely fall guy for the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Members of Trump’s legal team are actively planning certain strategies around Meadows’ downfall — including possible criminal charges…”

    and then this:

    “This reporting is based on Rolling Stone’s conversations with eight sources familiar with the matter, each of whom is still working in Trump’s political orbit, on his legal defense, or in Republican circles in regular contact with the ex-president….”

    Let’s hope Meadows rolls over and talks, assuming DOJ thinks Meadows has criminal liability.

    • jhinx says:

      What I don’t get is how Trump’s legal team can plan possible criminal charges. Would they provide evidence to law enforcement? If so, I’m sure Meadows would respond in kind. Why start such a battle unless they think they have him cornered?

  7. civil says:

    So Trump said and did things that he wanted to be interpreted as spontaneous but were instead planned, with harmful effects. Here’s a draft Trump tweet, again showing that he planned to call for the Trumpists to march to the Capitol after the speech:
    The thing I’m puzzling over is whether (a) Trump wanted to be at the Capitol and — according to what Hutchinson said Ornato told her — the Secret Service contradicted an order from Trump to take him to the Capitol after his speech, or (b) he only wanted the crowd to think that he’d be going with them. My impression is that it’s (a) rather than (b), and I’m wondering whether anyone is trying to find out whether the Secret Service truly refused an order from Trump to take him to the Capitol, which strikes me as contrary to the President being their boss, even if the Secret Service very reasonably assessed that it was not safe to bring him to the Capitol.

    • grennan says:

      The president is not their boss.The Secret Service has the last word on presidential security, or it’s supposed to, so technically “presidential order” is a meaningless term.

      The Wash. Post had a good story July 2 about the many implications and cross implications of Trump’s detail that day and Pence’s detail. By Carol Leonnig whose book about the SS came out fairly recently.

      • Greg Hunter says:

        He knew the SS would not take him. Trumps behavior was performance art for some reason. Was the story relayed to convince others to act in a certain way, that is unknown, but not out of the realm of possibility.

        • timbo says:

          It seems that Trump’s behavior is the governing point at which one can make a rational decision about this. And, so far, we have testimony that Trump did indeed want to go to the Capitol on Jan 6 2021. He said as much in his speech, stuff he added back in after it had previously been removed. This seems to be an intention to go to the Capitol >on its face<. Furhter, we have second hand testimony that Trump was enraged when it turned out that USSS was not going to take him to the Capitol on that day, following his speech—are you saying that testimony is not true? How do you know that?

        • Tom says:

          I, too, used to think that Trump never intended to go to the Capitol, that he only said “I’ll be there with you!” to encourage his mob, and that he would want to avoid being present when the pent-up violence he had stoked with his rhetoric was finally unleashed. But it seems clear now that Trump really did want to go to the Capitol, and I wonder what he planned to do once he got there. Give another speech? Grab a Trump flag and wave it before the mob and the cameras? Lead a charge up the Capitol steps? Perhaps we’ll never know what was really going on in his mind.

          I also used to think that Trump’s desire to remain in the White House by hook or by crook was mainly due to his wish to avoid criminal prosecution for his various apparent offenses and shady business dealings, but I now think his ego played a far larger role in his action leading up to January 6th: he just can’t tolerate the idea of being considered a loser.

          In a way, Trump’s hair is a metaphor for his whole approach to life. He doesn’t care how ridiculous he looks as long as he can look in the mirror and tell himself he’s not bald.

        • T A Frye says:

          Trump absolutely knew he would not be driven to the Capitol. The President’s movements are not spontaneous and the Secret Service is not a taxi service. His performative attempt was partly for posterity, partly for his own damaged ego and completely fake.

      • civil says:

        18 U.S.C. 3056 puts the USSS “under the direction of the Secretary of Homeland Security,” and he is appointed by the President, so I’m not convinced that an order from the President to his Secret Service detail is as meaningless as you believe. I looked up the July 2 article by Lennig, but she doesn’t directly address whether the USSS can refuse an otherwise legal order from the President. She noted that “Pence refused a request of his security detail to get into an armored car — concerned, according to testimony, that his protectors would take him away from the Capitol and prevent him from carrying out his duty to oversee the final count of electoral college votes.” Was it “a request” or did Pence instead refuse direction from his detail? She also said that “people with knowledge of the committee’s deliberations said they expect [Ornato and Engel] to be called [again] soon,” so it does seem that the Committee is trying to gather more info about it.

        • Belyn says:

          Yes she (Leonnig) said this again last night (about the time of your posting) on MSNBC, I think. The J-6 commission is working on this.

      • Belyn says:

        There was talk of some big surprise or event, some rumbling about tRump ascending to the throne or his second term. That being the reason he needed to get to the capitol.

  8. Zinsky says:

    Excellent post, Ms. Wheeler, short and to the point. The fact that early drafts of Trump’s Ellipse speech did not contain the incitive and inflammatory language that sent hundreds, if not thousands of duped Americans to the Capitol, demonstrates his intent. The “normies” would have never been present for Beggs, Samsel, Rhodes, et al to whip the mob into a frenzy. Trump was knowingly operating outside of the legal boundaries his own internal counsel had clearly established for him. Any shadow of a doubt should have fallen away…

  9. Doctor My Eyes says:

    It is good to seeing this being said somewhere at least. It’s from former ambassador P. Michael McKinley. He underscores the culpability of the entire WH staff, including those who ultimately did not fully embrace an overthrow of the US government. Particularly he reminds how far Pence has gone down the road of claiming election fraud and supporting anti-democratic moves in places like Texas.

    These senior officials with a public trust should not be treated as heroes or concerned citizens because they had reservations at the time about the efforts to overturn the election results and to select new state electors. They did not act – not on Jan. 6, not in the weeks before the insurrection, and not in the aftermath as the enormity of what had occurred sank in. Some, like former Attorney General William Barr, who authorized the Department of Justice to look into “vote tabulation irregularities” – over the objections of the head of the Election Crimes Branch who resigned instead – cooperated in the early stages of the attempt to discredit election results. They are being given an accountability pass.

  10. Savage Librarian says:

    And as for the next ad-libbed plan:

    “Donald Trump on 2024: ‘I’ve Already Made That Decision’ The only question left in the former president’s mind is when he’ll announce.” – 7/14/22, Olivia Nuzzi
    “ “Susie’s at the top of it, and she’s with him constantly,” the adviser continued — as in Susie Wiles, a Florida operative who had worked to elect DeSantis to the governorship only for him to turn around and engineer her firing from the 2020 Trump campaign with an accusation that she was a leaker. As Trump soured on DeSantis, he welcomed Wiles back as the CEO of his political-action committee, Save America, and to some, it seems a safe bet that she will be functionally in charge of what comes next.”
    “It’s Trumpworld, man,” the current adviser said. “It’ll be done the way we do everything else. It’ll be very last minute; it’ll be a surprise. We’ll cowboy it like 2016.”
    “The quality is going to be even worse, if that’s imaginable,” the former Trump adviser said. “It’s bad. It’s, like, next level. It’s just one too many times of screwing people that were loyal. I definitely think people are done, like the closest of the close.”

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Someone at Mar-a-Lago is sure leaking aplenty. Between this piece and the one in RS about plans to scapegoat Mark Meadows, Trumpworld seems back to their WH sieve patterns. It would make sense that those backing a 2024 campaign might be trying to get some negative press to show to Trump and back him off announcing until after the midterms. And it would make sense that uber-leaker Meadows might try to save himself by publicizing the other machinations.

      Otherwise, it seems status quo ante. I only hope all of them fail.

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