Ex-Trump chief of staff dismisses role of rally in Capitol riot

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Jan. 6 organizers used burner phones to communicate with White House: report Trump allies leaning on his executive privilege claims MORE downplayed the role then-President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE's speech at a rally Jan. 6 played in rioting that turned deadly in the U.S. Capitol. 

During an appearance on "Fox & Friends" in response to a direct question from Brian Kilmeade on whether in retrospect it was a good idea to hold the rally, Meadows deflected, saying it was better to focus on the future.

“When we start looking at the rally, we're focused more on that than we are really about what we need to be focused on today,” Meadows said. “When we start to look at America, it needs to be about what is important to people on Main Street and that's what the president did. He put America first ... hopefully we'll get beyond this." 

ADVERTISEMENT

A violent mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, an incident that shook the nation and has since led to dozens of arrests. Five people died in connection to the riot, including a Capitol Police officer. Other officers were beaten by members of the mob, as caught on widely-circulated videos. 

Before the attack, Trump spoke to a crowd of thousands on the National Mall just outside the White House, repeating false claims of a "stolen" election and urging his voters to march on the Capitol in a display of "strength" to lawmakers. 

Trump has since been impeached by the House for his role in the events leading up to the riot, though it does not appear there will be enough Republican votes in the Senate to convict him.

The riot forced the evacuation of lawmakers as they were certifying the Electoral College results in a joint session of Congress. 

Authorities have said many of the individuals arrested for their actions during the rioting indicated they felt compelled to act by Trump's call for strength and complaints about electoral fraud and a "rigged" election during the two months following his defeat. As the rioting took place on Jan. 6, Trump posted a video message to his now permanently suspended account, telling the rioters to go home before calling them "patriots" and telling them "we love you." 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFauci overwhelmed by calls after journal published mistake over beagle experiments McConnell looks for way out of debt ceiling box Senators make bipartisan push to block 0M weapons sale to Saudis MORE (R-Ky.) introduced a point of order on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, charging that the impeachment of a former president is unconstitutional and should not be taken up by the body. 

All but five Republican Senators voted in support of Paul's measure, which ultimately failed, a move Meadows celebrated during his Fox appearance on Wednesday.   

“There was a vote yesterday in the senate that suggested that 45 senators said that it was unconstitutional,” Meadows said. “Let’s get on and be focused on what is important to the American people.”

In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, Meadows dismissed the second impeachment push against Trump as "dead on arrival."  
 
"If today’s Senate vote is any sign, the Democrats’ ridiculous impeachment of former President Trump will fail—again—by a long shot. Dead on arrival," he said. "Good for [Rand Paul] and the 45 GOP Senators for standing up." 
 
Trump has not made any definitive statements about his political future, saying "we'll be back in some form" during his final remarks as president.  
 
The Conservative Partnership Institute, a right-wing networking firm headed by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), announced Wednesday it had hired Meadows to help "support and build the conservative movement" in America.  
 
Trump's second impeachment trial is slated to begin the week of Feb. 8.