Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images
- Donald Trump Jr. gave the Jan. 6 committee little new information, but spoke about his own thinking.
- He said he wasn’t swayed by Attorney General Bill Barr declaring there was no widespread fraud in 2020.
- He said he’d become a “pretty big cynic” about “these processes and these institutions.”
When Donald Trump Jr. spoke with the January 6 committee in May 2022, he offered few new details of the events following the 2020 election that led to the assault on the Capitol.
But a transcript of his interview, which was released by the committee on Thursday, offered something of a window into Trump Jr.’s thinking during that period of time, when he was acting as a surrogate for his father’s campaign.
Investigators asked Trump about the assessments made by Attorney General Bill Barr in late 2020, both publicly and privately, that there was no widespread fraud in the election, and if those assessments made him “make sure people at the campaign were fact checking these allegations of voter fraud.”
“No, it didn’t,” Trump told investigators with the committee. “I’ve become a pretty big cynic into much of these processes and institutions. So, you know, again that’s just a learned response, unfortunately.”
He spoke of the “Russia, Russia, Russia stuff for the last few years,” an apparent reference to investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian agent during the campaign, though a final report issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller found insufficient evidence for a broader criminal conspiracy.
The committee also asked him about texts messages he exchanged with Mark Meadows, then the White House Chief of Staff, on January 6 amid the riot at the Capitol.
Even as he told Meadows that his father had to “condemn this shit ASAP,” Trump also texted Meadows that he was “not convinced these were Trump supporters either,” referring to the rioters.
Explaining that point of view, Trump referred to other violent protests that had taken place in 2020, many of which were in support of racial justice.
“I had watched, you know, violence for the prior 18 months all over the country, all of these things done by the other side,” he said. “So it wouldn’t surprise me if there were people in this group functioning as agitators.”
“You know, again, when you’ve been through what I’ve been through, you can be a cynic on some of these things,” he added.
The claim that left-wing agitators had infiltrated a mob of the president’s supporters was floated immediately after the riot, notably by the president himself and Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.
“It’s not Antifa, it’s MAGA. I know. I was there,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly told Trump in a phone call days after the attack.