In her first interview since her departure from the White House, former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed she could never have foreseen the violence that erupted at the US Capitol on January 6.
“I think at the beginning of the day before everyone went to the rally, everyone was expecting peace,” McEnany said, in an excerpt of the interview on Fox News’ “The Faulkner Focus” released Monday.
“We had been to hundreds of rallies ― I’ve probably been to hundreds at this point, certainly many dozens ― and they were nothing but peaceful events, and we expected that day to be the same.”
During that rally, originating as a “Stop the Steal” event, then-President Donald Trump called his supporters to action, urging them again and again to “fight like hell” to stop Joe Biden from taking office.
“And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said before telling the crowd to march to the US Capitol, where the House and Senate were counting electoral votes.
The FBI and the US Capitol Police were aware ahead of the rally that there was potential for violence at the Capitol. The FBI Field Office in Norfolk, Virginia, issued an explicit warning on Jan. 5 that there were plans for extremist violence the following day, The Washington Post reported.
“And then as those events transpired, it was disbelief, shock, somber, sad, horrified by the violence, and it was a very hard, difficult day in the White House, there is no doubt,” McEnany said.
She said that mood was universal across the White House.
“It was a, I should say, widespread feeling, synonymous feeling, completely. A feeling that everyone felt, the ― just completely condemning the actions of that day. Horrified and very somber.”
Yet former Trump aides told CNN last month that Trump enjoyed watching the events unfold. He was “loving watching the Capitol mob,” one former senior White House official reportedly said. The New York Times reported that Trump was initially pleased as his supporters stormed the building and ignored aides who pleaded for him to intervene.
Eventually, when Trump released a video telling the insurrectionists to stop and go home, he said he could understand how they felt. “We love you,” the president said. “You’re very special.”
A day later, McEnany issued a terse statement from the White House briefing room condemning the violence “in the strongest possible terms.”
The remainder of McEnany’s interview will air Tuesday on Fox News.
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