It took five hours for a White House aide to convince then-president Donald Trump to walk back his infamous tweet calling for looters to be shot during racial justice protests, according to dramatic January 6 interview transcripts.
The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riot at the US Capitol released a trove of new transcripts from interviews with several key Trumpworld figures on Thursday.
Among the documents was testimony from former White House press official Alyssa Farah Griffin.
In her deposition to the panel, Ms Griffin recalled one incident around the summer of 2020 at a time when racial justice protests were sweeping America in response to the police murder of Black man George Floyd.
In a now-infamous inflammatory tweet three days on from the murder, Mr Trump appeared to encourage people to shoot looters.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way,” he wrote.
“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
Ms Griffin brought up the incident in her testimony, saying that everyone was “horrified” by Mr Trump’s post and that even Fox News – a frequent ally of the former president – was slamming his comments.
“I mean, I and every living, breathing person was horrified by it,” she said, the transcripts reveal.
“I walked into his office – and we were getting crushed – you know, even Fox News was like, ‘This is terrible.’ So I walked into the dining room and said, like, ‘Sir... you need to walk this back.’ I was like ‘even your friends are coming after you’.”
Despite repeated attempts from his inner circle to walk back the tweet, Ms Griffin said it took five hours to finally convince the former president to send a tweet that was “at least somewhat de-escalatory”.
During that time, she said she showed Mr Trump TV footage of him being condemned for his comments – something she said he wasn’t aware of because for some “bizarre” reason he is around 30 minutes behind on the news at all times.
“I brought him... the first walk back, which was along the lines of, what I meant to say is, when there’s looting, inevitably violence follows, and violence is terrible,” she said.
“And he said, ‘No, no, no. That’s not what I meant. What I meant is... when the looting starts, people are going to get shot.’ And I’m like, oh, great.”
Eventually – after around five hours – she said he relented to sending out another tweet, though Ms Griffin admitted even this wasn’t exactly “helpful”.
Ms Griffin told the panel that this was the first time she “thought about resigning and didn’t”.
The tweet in question was given a warning label by Twitter at the time because the platform said it had violated its rule against glorifying violence.
As well as Ms Griffin’s transcript, interviews from several other Mr Trump allies and former White House insiders were also released on Thursday, including Donald Trump Jr, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Stephen Miller.
The House select committee released its full 845-page report last week, marking the culmination of a 17-month-long investigation into the events leading up to and including 6 January 2021, when a mob of Mr Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol to try to overturn the election.
The report detailed how Mr Trump and his allies engaged in at least 200 acts attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election and called for him never to be allowed to enter office again.
The panel also recommended that Mr Trump should potentially face four criminal charges for his alleged role in the insurrection.
The charges are: obstruction of an official proceeding of the United States government, conspiracy to defraud the US, conspiracy to make a false statement, and inciting, assisting, or aid and comforting an insurrection.
It will now fall to the DOJ to decide whether or not to bring any criminal charges.