Trump Held Secret Meetings in Days Leading Up to Capitol Riot, Ex-Press Secretary Tells Jan. 6 Panel
Stephanie Grisham, who served as press secretary and communications director for the Trump White House, resigned from the administration following the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. In November 2021, Grisham urged the House Select Committee panel to look into White House call logs, noting that Trump was "paranoid of leaks".
revealed to the House panel investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol building that, in the days leading up to the deadly insurrection, then-US President Donald Trump
held a series of secret meetings, according to sources who told The Guardian
that Grisham's interview proved to be more significant than expected.
According to the two sources, the former press secretary told the 9-member congressional panel that the majority of the secretive meetings were scheduled by Trump's then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
The details of the discussions were kept under wraps, with only a select few Trump aides aware that the meetings took place, Grisham reportedly said.
Timothy Harleth, then-chief usher at the White House, would direct meeting attendees to the upper level of the White House, Grisham told the panel. Prior to joining the White House staff in 2017, Harleth served as rooms manager at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.
Harleth was removed from his position in January 2021, around the time US President Joe Biden assumed the role of president. The White House claimed to CNN at the time that Harleth "was let go before the Bidens arrived" at the presidential residence.
Prior to the deadly January 6 riot, Trump vowed to lead attendees of his election protest to the US Capitol building, where US senators and then-Vice President Mike Pence were preparing to certify the Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election.
"And 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 gonna cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women," Trump told supporters.
"You'll never take back our country with weakness—you have to show strength and you have to be strong," Trump added.
Trump did not, however, march with his supporters to the US Capitol building on January 6, and instead took a car back to the White House, where he is said to have watched the unrest unfold on television.
The committee is seeking to determine whether Trump intended to join his supporters in their demonstration, or was simply using them to halt the certification of Electoral College votes.
Grisham reportedly told Select Committee investigators that details about whether Trump informed the Secret Service about his plans would be laid out in the presidential line-by-line, a scheduling document provided to the law enforcement group.
This is not the first time the former White House press secretary has mentioned Trump holding secret, off-the-books meetings.
In November 2021, Grisham detailed to CNN that she hoped the Select Committee was looking into White House call logs, as there were several secretive meetings held in the presidential residence.
Grisham told the outlet that Trump was "paranoid of leaks" and held meetings at the White House "so that he could keep track of who was in there" and, in the event of a leak, narrow down his list of culprits.