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New evidence shows Trump toned down his condemnation of the deadly Capitol attack

A screenshot from the House Select Jan. 6 panel shows an edited Trump speech prepared for the day after the deadly attack.
House Select Jan. 6 Committee
A screenshot from the House Select Jan. 6 panel shows an edited Trump speech prepared for the day after the deadly attack.

New evidence shared by the House Select Jan. 6 Committee shows then-President Donald Trump edited a speech that was aimed at strongly condemning the deadly attack on the Capitol last year.

A document for a Jan. 7, 2021, Trump speech, titled "Remarks on National Healing," shows several key phrases crossed out that would have more strongly denounced the siege. It also shows suggested edits for added words.

"It looks like a copy of a draft of the remarks for that day," Trump's daughter and former senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump told a committee investigator during her recorded video interview. She said plans for the speech began the evening after the riot.

The investigator asked her if she recognized the handwriting on the page, and she responded she did.

"It looks like my father's handwriting," she said.

The evidence, shared via Twitter by committee member Elaine Luria, D-Va., only showed an excerpt of the speech remarks and not the full document. It adds new revelations from last Thursday's hearing showing Trump in unedited outtakes refusing to say he lost the election or to condemn the attackers more strongly.

From the excerpt shared on Monday, the Trump speech retained its portions referring to the siege as a "heinous attack" and a false claim by Trump that he "immediately" deployed military help to the siege.

However, the document shows some minor and major edits. For example, the words "and sickened" are struck from the sentence, "Like all Americans, I am outraged and sickened by the lawlessness, violence and mayhem."

Larger edits show these sentences struck from the speech excerpt shared by the panel: "I am directing the Department of Justice to ensure all lawbreakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We must send a clear message — not with mercy but with JUSTICE. Legal consequences must be swift and firm."

The speech also shows references to how the attackers don't represent Trump or his movement also deleted. Another reference telling rioters, "you belong in jail" has the words "belong in jail" crossed out and handwritten in its place is "WILL PAY."

Witnesses told the panel Trump's Jan. 7th video was meant to be more forceful than the Jan. 6th video

"I thought we should give the statement on the 7th and obviously move forward on transition," former Trump White House attorney Eric Herschmann told committee investigators.

Son-in-law and also ex-White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said in his filmed committee interview that he and others brainstormed for new remarks to be given that following day.

"We felt like it was important to further call for de-escalation," Kushner said.

Cassidy Hutchinson, former top aide to then-Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, said plans for the Jan. 7 speech were fueled in a large part over a concern the 25th Amendment could potentially be invoked to force Trump out.

"So the primary reason that I had heard other than, you know, 'we did not do enough on the 6th, we need to get a stronger message out there and condemn this, otherwise, this will be your legacy,' " Hutchinson told investigators. "The secondary reason to that was that, 'think about what might happen in the final 15 days of your presidency if we don't do this, there's already talks about invoking the 25th Amendment, you need this as cover.' "

During his interview with the panel, former White House counsel Pat Cipollone said he believed Trump needed to say more condemning the attackers.

"In my view, he needed to express very clearly that the people who committed violent acts, went into the Capitol, did what they did, should be prosecuted and should be arrested," he said.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: July 25, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story misquoted the word "lawbreakers" in a line struck from former President Trump's speech on Jan. 7, 2021.
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Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.