Trump was 'pleased' by Capitol siege — until aides warned he has 'legal exposure': NYT reporter

Trump was 'pleased' by Capitol siege — until aides warned he has 'legal exposure': NYT reporter
President Donald J. Trump gestures with a fist pump Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, at the conclusion of the swearing-in ceremony for newly sworn-in U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

The New York Times' Maggie Haberman has been reporting extensively on the January 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol Building and President Donald Trump's response to it. Haberman discussed her reporting during a January 12 appearance on CNN's "New Day," telling hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman that Trump was initially "pleased" with what we he saw on television.

The Times reporter told Camerota and Berman that Trump "was engaging with aides while this was all going on. They were interrupting, telling him that he had to do something. And they were interrupting, telling him the Capitol was being overrun by his supporters. He was well aware of it, he was watching it. He was pleased because it was people fighting on his behalf. He was pleased because he liked the scene, he was pleased because it was delaying the certification of the electoral college vote….. He just didn't want to do anything."

Camerota asked Haberman if Trump realized that members of Congress "could have been killed," and the Times reporter responded, "I think most of us didn't know that in real time…. He was hearing from people who were trapped in there who could see what was going on. The images that most of the world got have been worse and worse, one after the other."

Haberman added, "What lawmakers were seeing as they were cowering and running was much more explicit than what we were seeing from outside the building — for the most part, outside the building. So, he was aware of what was going on. There were lawmakers reaching out not just to him, but to his chief of staff, to other people at the White House. And the only thing that really seemed to snap him out of it, according to my sources…. is that he was told he would have legal exposure based on what was going on because of what he said at the rally that preceded it."

With President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration just over a week away, Haberman said, an important question is, "Does (Trump) pardon himself?" And the Times reporter noted that both former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone have advised Trump against granting himself a preemptive pardon because he would be "giving up his 5th Amendment rights" by doing so.

Here is some of Haberman's reporting from January 6:

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