Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Thursday that former President Donald Trump “gleefully” watched television coverage of the Capitol riot in a private dining room at the White House and praised how his supporters were “fighting” for him.
Grisham, who resigned as chief of staff for then-first lady Melania Trump in the wake of the violence on Jan. 6 of last year, told CNN’s “New Day” she couldn’t say specifically who pleaded with Trump to call off the mob, but alleged that the 45th president’s wife did no such thing.
“All I know about that day was, he was in the dining room gleefully watching on his TV as he often did, [saying] ‘Look at all of the people fighting for me,’ hitting rewind, watching it again,” Grisham said. “That’s what I know,”
Grisham, who began working with then-presidential candidate Trump in 2015, was among a number of White House staffers who called it quits that day. She appeared on CNN one day after voluntarily meeting with the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021 and the Trump administration’s potential role in fomenting the violence.
“I cooperated fully and will continue to do so,” Grisham told reporters as she left the closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill Wednesday night.
On Thursday, Grisham called on former Vice President Mike Pence to follow her example.
“I think that he has a lot of insight,” she said. “I’m not going to lie, I know that he’s put in a very difficult position politically in order to do that, but I hope he will. I think that the vice president’s a good man.”
The mob that stormed the Capitol set up a gallows outside the building and called for Pence to be hanged after he refused to reject slates of electors from battleground states during the joint session of Congress to certify the result of the 2020 presidential election.
In remarks Thursday morning, President Biden put the blame for the Capitol riot directly on his predecessor’s shoulders without mentioning his name, saying Trump had “spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.”
“What did we not see?” Biden said while asking Americans to think back on that day last year. “We didn’t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives [were] at risk, the nation’s capitol [was] under siege.”
In her CNN interview Thursday, Grisham said a group of former Trump administration officials plan to meet next week to “talk about how we can formally do some things to try and stop him and also the extremism, that kind of violent rhetoric that has been talked about and continues to divide our country.”
Grisham said she hopes the group’s message will speak to ardent Trump supporters.
“I’m hoping that people will talk to somebody like me or some of these other people who really did believe in Trump and understand you can be proud of his policies, you can still be behind a lot of the America First policies that he implemented, which I am, but it doesn’t have to be him,” she said. “It just doesn’t have to be this man who has caused such chaos and destruction in the country.”