Kushner, Melania and other Trump insiders claimed Jan 6 violence was a ‘shock’ despite warnings

Former White House advisor Jared Kushner spoke to Jan 6 committee for six hours (AFP via Getty Images)
Former White House advisor Jared Kushner spoke to Jan 6 committee for six hours (AFP via Getty Images)

Top Trump administration aides claim they were surprised that protests at the US Capitol turned violent on January 6, 2021, despite law enforcement agencies warning of such a possibility in advance.

The claims came in newly released transcripts of interviews conducted by the House committee investigating the attack with numerous top advisors to then-president Donald Trump.

Jared Kushner, a senior advisor to Mr Trump and husband to his daughter, told committee members that “nobody expected there to be violence” on the day when the 2020 election was due to be certified.

“I didn’t even know to what degree that it was going to be a significant day in any regard,” Mr Kusher said in the interview, which took place on 31 March, 2022.

Jason Miller, a former senior advisor to Mr Trump’s 2020 election campaign, similarly told the committee during his interview that “it was just unbelievable that people who were MAGA supporters would be engaging in violent activities.”

He added: “[i]t was just unconscionable that you could think that people who supported the police officers, who supported law and order, who opposed the violence we saw over the summer would be taking part in this.”

Mr Miller, in his 3 February, 2022, interview, also recounted a phone call with Mr Trump on the night of the Capitol attack in which he put the First Lady, Melania Trump, on the phone.

“The First Lady expressed shock and anger, and questions that she couldn’t believe that any Trump supporter, anyone who believed in this movement, would ever participate in violent activity like this,” Mr Miller said, according to the transcript.

The testimony from some of Mr Trump’s closest associates stands in contrast to previous interviews given by law enforcement officials and other Trump administration aides,  many of whom said the administration was warned of possible violence on the day.

Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as a special assistant in the Trump White House, told the committee in her public testimony that "there were concerns brought forward" to the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, ahead of the riot.

"I just remember Mr. Ornato coming in and saying that we had intel reports saying that there could potentially be violence on the 6th," Ms Hutchinson said, referencing Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official. "And Mr. Meadows said: ‘All right. Let’s talk about it.’”

It has previously been reported that the Secret Service, which provides security to the president, had warned Capitol police of possible violence.

Democratic congressman Adam Schiff said the January 6 committee, of which he is a member, had obtained more than 1 million emails from the Secret Service, and claimed that they showed a clear awareness of the threat developing ahead of the protest. Those threats included “calls to occupy federal buildings,” “intimidating Congress and invading [the] Capitol Building,” and people claiming they want to “arm themselves and to engage in political violence at the event,” according to documents presented by the committee.

In the weeks ahead of the rally, Mr Trump, whom the committee identified as one of the primary causes of the violence, sent numerous tweets calling on his supporters to attend.

“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” Mr. Trump tweeted on 19 December. “Be there, will be wild!”