Donald Trump has canceled his press conference to commemorate the 6 January Capitol riot, which the former president planned to hold at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
Mr Trump’s change of plans comes after the special congressional committee investigating the insurrection released a series of texts from Fox News host Sean Hannity, who texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows his concerns over the violence at the Capitol and raised doubts on Mr Trump’s election fraud claims.
In one text message sent on 5 January 2021, Mr Hannity wrote that he was “very worried” about the next 48 hours. In another, sent a few days earlier, he wrote: “I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told.”
Mr Trump said he will instead host an event in Arizona on 15 January. He is likely to make many of the same false claims about the 2020 election that he was expected to make on 6 January, but the change of date likely serves to distance the president’s message from the violent acts that occurred on the grounds of the Capitol that day and allowing him to avoid facing questions from reporters.
“In light of the total bias and dishonesty of the January 6th Unselect Committee of Democrats, two failed Republicans, and the Fake News Media, I am canceling the January 6th Press Conference at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday,” Mr Trump said in a statement, turning his fire on the congressional committee that has been responsible for so many damaging revelations about the events of January 6 and the hours leading up to it.
President Donald J. Trump:
“In light of the total bias and dishonesty of the January 6th Unselect Committee of Democrats, two failed Republicans, and the Fake News Media, I am canceling the January 6th Press Conference at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday, and instead will discuss… pic.twitter.com/DJ2SZKs2BJ
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) January 4, 2022
The former president’s rambling statement went on to accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of slow walking the law enforcement response necessary to protect herself and fellow lawmakers, despite statements from both nonpartisan House security officials and Ms Pelosi’s office stating that this did not occur.
He also accused Rep Adam Schiff, a Democrat on the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot, of “forg[ing]” a statement from Rep Jim Jordan, referring to the apparent addition of some punctuation to a text message sent by Mr Jordan to Mr Trump’s chief of staff during a committee hearing in which the altered text was displayed in a graphic created by staffers.
Mr Trump’s change of plans will also mean that his speech will not compete with a national address set to be delivered by President Joe Biden at the Capitol on Thursday. Mr Biden is expected to warn about the continued dangers presented by Mr Trump’s falsehoods regarding voter fraud and America’s election systems.
His expected address has been derided by conservatives in the Senate, who have expressed dismay at the idea that the former president plans to continue rehashing the 2020 election on the national stage more than a year after his defeat.
News of his decision to move the date was sharply derided by Bill Kristol, the conservative editor of The Bulwark.
“I think it’s nice that Trump wants to commemorate his being silent and missing in action for 187 minutes last January 6, by going silent this January 6,” wrote Mr Kristol on Twitter.
I think it’s nice that Trump wants to commemorate his being silent and missing in action for 187 minutes last January 6, by going silent this January 6.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 4, 2022
The backlash from the Senate and Mr Trump’s eventual change of plans possibly as a result illustrate the growing divide between the House and Senate GOP caucuses over the issue of January 6.
Many House Republicans including Reps Andrew Clyde and Marjorie Taylor Greene have sought to minimise the severity of the attack on the Capitol or spread misinformation about the 2020 election, and continue to do so to the present day. In the Senate, the support for such rhetoric is far rarer, especially given Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to objections to the 2020 election’s certification on the day of the riot.
Mr Trump has continued to hold rallies and events since leaving office as he remains embittered by his 2020 defeat and the overwhelming favourite of GOP primary voters to win the 2024 nomination, according to polling.