Kristen Welker interviewed former President Donald Trump in her debut as host of NBC’s Meet the Press, marking his first broadcast network interview since leaving office in 2021 amid chaos and violence.
Insider reports that the exchange, which aired Sunday (Sep. 17), was tense at times when Welker pressed Trump on his activities during the Jan. 6 insurrection in which his supporters stormed the Capitol.
Witnesses told the House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the attack that Trump sat for hours watching it unfold on TV, ignoring pleas from his children and adviser to order his supporters to stop the assault.
Before the attack, Trump delivered an inflammatory speech at a rally urging supporters to march on the Capitol. Trump falsely told them he had won the 2020 presidential election, and his opponents used widespread voter fraud to hand President Joe Biden the presidency. At least five police officers died from the violence.
"Tell me how you watched this all unfold. Were you in the dining room watching TV?" Welker asked Trump, who responded, "I'm not going to tell you. I'll tell people later, at an appropriate time."
Trump pointed Welker to the video statement he made hours after his supporters stormed the Capitol, interrupting the constitutional process to recognize Biden as the new president. In the video, he sympathized with the rioters while telling them to end the violence.
“We love you, you’re very special,” Trump said, adding, “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it. Especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace.”
Trump told Welker that then-House Speaker Nacy Pelosi, a California Democrat, was at fault for the rioters overwhelming officers because she was responsible for security at the Capitol.
But, according to The New York Times, the House speaker does not control the Capitol's security nor requests for the National Guard.
In response to Trump’s claim, Pelosi told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart that the former president has a habit of projecting his failures on others.
“He knows he’s responsible for that, so he projects it onto others. The assault on the Capitol building, the assault on the Constitution, the assault on our democracy, shame on him; However, he always projects,” Pelosi said, according to The Hill.
Trump, the front-runner for the GOP 2024 presidential nomination, has been indicted in a federal case and in Georgia on criminal charges related to his attempt to stay in power after losing the 2020 election.
The Associated Press reports that Trump has avoided mainstream media interviews in this presidential campaign, choosing instead to appear on far-right outlets.