Former President Donald Trump made his first public comments Friday since the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack.to stay in power. The commission has presented harrowing video footage and blistering testimony, including accounts of close associates of Trump and members of his family.
Trump mentioned the hours of testimony –so far – “a complete and total lie.” He spent much of his speech denouncing the committee’s efforts as politically motivated, claiming he had done nothing wrong.
“It’s a complete and utter fraud,” he said, speaking at a conference in Nashville held by the Faith and Freedom Coalition. He claimed the images had been selectively edited and downplayed the uprising as “a simple protest gone wrong.”
“They’re recording six-, eight-, and nine-hour testimonials, and they put on five-second clips that make everyone look bad,” Trump said. “They’re going to take nine hours of deposits, destroying people, trying to destroy them, and out of the nine hours they’re going to shoot a five-second clip where they got a little tired.”
The former president also spoke of those being prosecuted for their roles in the January 6 riots, and suggested, as he has done in recent months, that he consider pardoning some of them if he wins the presidency again.
“Most people shouldn’t be treated the way they’re treated, and if I ever become president, if I decide to do it, I’ll look very, very seriously to them for pardon,” he said.
He also denied the testimony of a former aide, Nicholas Luna, who told the commission that on the morning of Jan. 6, Trump had a phone conversation with Pence — described by Ivanka Trump as “heated” — in which Luna Trump called the vice president a “wimp.” ‘.
Thursday’s hearing detailed pressure on Trump andfiled against Pence to overturn the election during the electoral count that day.
“I never called Mike Pence a wimp,” Trump said Friday. “I never called him a wimp. Mike Pence had a chance to be great. He had a chance to be, frankly, historic.”
But Trump still seems to disagree with the idea that Pence’s role in chairing the January 6 election vote was a ceremonial one.
“They were emphatic, emphatic, about Mike Pence,” Trump said. “In other words – ready? He had no choice, no matter what, he had to send those votes, he had none – there is absolutely nothing he can do. I said, ‘Well, what is he? A robot?’ I actually came up with the word ‘conveyor belt’. … In other words, … he’s a human assembly line.”
The former president also kept alive the idea that he is considering running another presidential election in 2024.
“One of the most pressing tasks for the next Republican president — I wonder who that will be,” Trump said at one point, prompting a standing ovation and chants of “USA!”
“Would anyone want me to run for president?” he asked the crowd, unleashing more cheers.
Trump’s return to public talk comes as he has been actively considering when he could formally launch a third presidential run, according to people familiar with the discussions. According to his aides and allies who maintain that he has not yet made a final decision, the debate is over whether he should announce a campaign in the coming months or, in keeping with tradition, wait until after the midterm elections in November.
Fin Gómez and Fritz Farrow contributed to this report.