Jan 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Inside Trump’s Jan. 6 cancellation

A screenshot shows a statement from former President Trump.
Via DonaldJTrump.com

Before Donald Trump canceled his planned Jan. 6 press conference, several key allies — including hardline Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — made clear they thought it was a bad idea to invite the national media to Mar-a-Lago to mark the deadly riot.

Why it matters: Trump would have inevitably used his press conference Thursday to portray the rioters as political prisoners, whitewash their actions that day and lie about a "stolen election."

  • Divisions had widened between the former president and congressional Republican leaders over how to handle the anniversary.
  • Trump — like his most fervent allies — wanted to go on offense.
  • Congressional leaders wanted to narrowly condemn the rioters, avoid criticizing Trump or assigning any responsibility to him and quickly pivot to attacking Democrats over their handling of the Jan. 6 investigation.

House and Senate leaders had no involvement in planning Trump's event — which they viewed as a political headache.

  • They were quietly relieved when they saw his statement Tuesday evening announcing he was canceling the press conference.
  • The withdrawal leaves Steve Bannon and Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) as perhaps the only high-profile Trump allies willing to go on the offense through media appearances Thursday.

Behind the scenes: Graham, a frequent phone and golfing buddy of Trump, was one of those who urged him to cancel the press conference.

  • Graham confirmed this to Axios during a phone interview Tuesday night, saying he discussed the subject with Trump over a weekend golf match in West Palm Beach.
  • Graham said Trump brought up the subject and the senator told him "there could be peril in doing a news conference. ... Best to focus on election reform instead."

Ingraham, another influential Trump ally, strongly signaled during her show Monday night she thought Trump shouldn't hold a press conference on Jan. 6.

  • She asked Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) a leading question: "Some things were horrific that happened and shouldn't have happened that day. ... Is it smart for President Trump to do a rally on that particular day, versus next week or the week before?"
  • Banks notably declined the opportunity to publicly advise Trump against doing the event. His answer highlights the stance that nearly all elected Republicans take on any matter involving Trump: total embrace.

What they're saying: Banks told Ingraham he "welcome[s]" Trump doing the press conference.

  • "President Trump has important things to say on Thursday, on Jan. 6," Banks said.
  • "Like so many others, I'm looking forward to hearing what President Trump has to say."
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