The storied Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, which became the de facto headquarters of the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War, again finds itself the scene of controversy as members of Congress seek to understand to what lengths the Trump White House took to overturn the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Willard Hotel At The Center Of January 6, 2021 Trump Uprising
The Willard hosted Abraham Lincoln when he was secretly smuggled into town ahead of his 1861 inauguration. It was the place where General U.S. Grant set up headquarters for the Union Army and planned strategy over Mint Juleps at the Round Robin bar.
A century later, it was the place where Martin Luther King wrote his I Have A Dream speech and stayed prior his historic March on Washington. Robert Kennedy ordered FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to tap King’s room, where he was caught having an extramarital affair.
And once again the Willard finds itself at the center of U.S. political history. Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack, wants to better understand the conversations that took place between the White House and President Donald Trump’s legal team in the hours leading up to the uprising.
The Guardian reports that on the night of January 5, 2021, Trump called his lieutenants at the Willard Hotel to plot out a strategy to prevent the certification of the election for Joe Biden the following day.
Lawyers for the former President, including Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis, Boris Epshteyn as well long-time Trump loyalist Steve Bannon, were all staying at the Willard.
Trump was allegedly upset that Vice President Mike Pence had refused to commit to refusing to certify the election in his ceremonial role as President of the Senate and grilled his legal team for other remedies, including pushing Republican state election officials to de-certify results.
Bannon was called separately so as not to jeopardize attorney-client privilege, though attorney-client privilege likely would not apply anyway (it does not protect those who commit crimes, like treason, or investigations into alleged crime).
If Trump made the calls from his residence at the White House (versus the West Wing), they may not have been recorded, but a subpoena could shed light on the extent and duration of the phone communications.
The Willard hotel again finds itself at the center of uprising, rebellion, and Washington politics. As the House of Representatives seeks to piece together the timeline of the events leading to the January 6, 2021 insurrection, phone records between Trump and his legal team at the Willard might prove quite instrumental.