Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit held at the Tampa Convention Center on July 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Donald Trump removed lines about prosecuting January 6 rioters from a speech he delivered the day after the Capitol riot, according to congressional testimony provided on Monday. 

The former president reportedly deleted a line that disavowed the actions of the insurrectionists. “I want to be very clear: You do not represent me. You do not represent our movement,” the line allegedly read. 

Trump was also originally supposed to direct the Department of Justice “to ensure all lawbreakers are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“We must send a clear message – not with mercy but with JUSTICE. Legal consequences must be swift and firm,” the initial draft of his speech read.

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During the select committee’s eighth hearing last week, the panel played footage of closed-door testimony from former Trump adviser Jared Kushner, the former president’s son-in-law, who told the committee that he attempted “to put together some draft remarks for Jan. 7 that we were going to present to the president to try to say like we felt it was important to further call for de-escalation.” 

“Do you know why [Trump] wanted that crossed out?” an investigator asked Kushner, referencing sections of Trump’s speech that had been omitted. 

“I don’t know,” Kushner responded.

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According to closed-door testimony from John McEntee, a former Trump aide, Kushner had asked McEntee to encourage Trump to “help everything cool down” by delivering a conciliatory address. 

“Was the implication that the president was in some ways reluctant to give that speech?” an investor inquired of McEntee.

“Yeah,” McEntee. 

“OK, what do you base that on?” the investigator asked again. 

“The fact that somebody has to tell me to nudge it along,” McEntee responded. 

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Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone meanwhile told the committee that Trump should have issued more forceful remarks against the rioters. “In my view,” Cipillone said, “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.”

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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