Dec. 18, 2020, was a night unlike any ever seen at the White House.

Late that evening, several of President Donald Trump’s crackpot advisers, including ex-Gen. Mike Flynn, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and lawyer Sidney Powell, wormed their way into the Oval Office to urge the president to order a military seizure of voting machines to confirm their outlandish conspiracy theories about a stolen election. White House counsel Pat Cipollone and other presidential staffers rushed into the secret gathering and several hours of heated argument ensued.

Testifying to the House Jan. 6 committee, Cipollone said he intervened to head off the “terrible idea” of illegally grabbing voting machines. “That’s not how we do things in the United States,” he said. Trump was deeply annoyed by Cipollone but, eventually, Giuliani and his confederates were ushered out of the White House. However, the plot to overturn the election result did not end there.

In the wee hours of the night, Trump took things into his own hands and sent out a tweet that galvanized his radicalized base, particularly well-armed neo-fascist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. The tweet invited his supporters to come to Washington, D.C., in massive numbers on Jan. 6, the day the electoral votes would be counted in Congress. “Be there,” Trump wrote. “Will be wild.”

Further testimony before the committee showed that Trump had clear intent, not just to assemble a crowd for a rally, but to send this horde to the Capitol building to put pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to stop the electoral tally. On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump’s plan was implemented, chaos ensued, the seat of government was invaded, scores of police officers were injured, and several people died.

Happily for the country, Pence did not go along with the scheme and Joe Biden was duly chosen as president. Yet, as the mountain of testimony from mostly Republican officials gathered by committee has starkly revealed, this failed, criminal plan to subvert the constitutional order was directed by one man: the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

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