Even after his speech at the Ellipse that day, Trump pestered Robert Engel, the head of his Secret Service detail, about heading to Congress, according to a person familiar with Engel’s testimony to the House Jan. 6 committee. Trump raised the issue while the pair were in the presidential armored car headed back to the White House. Engel disagreed with the idea of bringing him there, he reportedly told lawmakers.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that for nearly two weeks leading up to his speech at the rally that preceded the riot, Trump frequently made it known to the Secret Service that he wanted to go to the Capitol. The Post cited two people familiar with witness testimony to the committee. The Secret Service declined Trump’s repeated requests.
It didn’t stop Trump from declaring, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol” and “I’ll be there with you,” during his speech at the rally that preceded the riot, prompting the Secret Service to prepare for it to happen, including by asking D.C. police to block intersections for a motorcade, according to the report. D.C. law enforcement declined to do so due to the bulk of their personnel monitoring protests.
Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told the Post that a review of its records found no operational plans to have Trump join his supporters at the Capitol.
Once back at the White House, Trump watched television, spoke with lawmakers over the phone about overturning the election, and complained on Twitter about Vice President Mike Pence, who was moved to a secure location in the Capitol. It was not until several hours later when he finally posted a video telling his supporters to go home. But if Trump had his way, he would’ve been there alongside them. “Secret Service wouldn’t let me,” Trump told the Post in April. “I wanted to go. I wanted to go so badly. Secret Service says you can’t go. I would have gone there in a minute.”
Despite these reports, Mark Meadows, Trump’s then-chief of staff, recounted that his boss told him after his speech that his line about walking down to the Capitol wasn’t to be taken literally. “When he got off stage, President Trump let me know that he had been speaking metaphorically about the walk to the Capitol,” Meadows wrote in The Chief’s Chief. “He knew as well as anyone that we couldn’t organize a trip like that on such short notice. It was clear the whole time that he didn’t actually intend to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with the crowd.”
Politico‘s report on Thursday indicates otherwise.