Former President Donald Trump said he was surprised that supporters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 and added that he would have stopped them had he been present, a new book says.
People protesting the 2020 presidential election results attacked the Capitol following a Trump rally in Washington, D.C., earlier in the day.
"I was not surprised when they went down to the Capitol to cheer, but I was surprised that they went [into] the Capitol," Trump says in "In Trump's Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of the GOP," Business Insider reported.
The then-president said he wanted to join supporters marching to the Capitol but was prevented from doing so by the Secret Service.
"I wanted to go down with the crowd," Trump said in the book. "I said I was going to go down with the crowd. But they wouldn't let me go. I think if I did go down there, I would have stopped the people from doing anything bad."
During the "Save America" rally, held on the day Congress convened to certify the Electoral College voting results, Trump told his supporters to "fight like hell."
Trump and allies said election fraud in several battleground states resulted in President Joe Biden’s victory.
"And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," he said.
"After this, we're going to walk down, and I'll be there with you … we're going to walk down to the Capitol, and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them."
The book, by Washington Examiner senior political correspondent David Drucker, was published on Tuesday. Drucker interviewed Trump for the project.
The Washington Post reported that Trump was slow to call off his supporters at the Capitol Jan. 6 because he was busy watching the events unfold on live television.
Trump eventually released a video message telling his supporters to "go home," adding, "We love you, you're very special."
Trump told Drucker that he "heard that [then-Vice President] Mike Pence was not in trouble" at the Capitol and that "I wouldn't want anything to happen to him," Business Insider reported.
In the months since the Capitol assault, Trump has praised the protesters and said they're being unfairly persecuted by the Justice Department, Business Insider said.
The former president last week recorded a video message sent to Ashli Babbitt's family for a celebration of what would have been her 36th birthday. Trump praised Babbitt as a "truly incredible person."
Babbitt was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer while trying to breach the House chamber.
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