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"I’m not going to tell you anything”: Trump declines to say if he called military to thwart Jan. 6 attack

First Read is your briefing from the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Kristen Welker sits down for an interview with former President Donald Trump.
Kristen Welker sits down for an interview with former President Donald Trump.William B. Plowman / Meet The Press

Happening this Monday: President Biden travels to New York City to attend two fundraisers before speaking tomorrow at the UN… House Republicans release short-term bill to avert government shutdown (but it’s unclear it has the votes to pass)… Nikki Haley puts a foreign-policy twist to her campaigning in Iowa, per NBC’s Alex Tabet and Greg Hyatt… And Tim Scott stumps in the Hawkeye State, while Mike Pence delivers a speech on China in DC.

But FIRST… Former President Donald Trump made plenty of news in his hour-plus interview with NBC’s Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press.”

He acknowledged he was calling the shots when it came to his challenges to the results of the 2020 election.

He supported shutting the down government if House Republicans can’t make “an appropriate” deal.

He shot down any possibility he might serve a third term if he wins in 2024.

And he even admitted he came up short to President Biden in the 2020 vote count. (“If you divide it among the states, it was 22,000 votes, something to that effect,” he said, adding later that “I say I won the election.”)

But one exchange that really stands out to us is what Trump refused to say in the interview — whether he did anything as commander-in-chief to stop the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

WELKER: Did you call military or law enforcement?

TRUMP: What?

WELKER: Did you call military or law enforcement at the moment the Capitol was under attack?

TRUMP: I’m not going to tell you anything. I told --


TRUMP: Let me put it this way. I behaved so well. I did such a good job. Nancy Pelosi turned down 10,000 soldiers. If she didn’t do that --

WELKER: But Nancy Pelosi doesn’t have the authority that you had as commander and chief, though.

[Later on in the exchange…]

WELKER: What do you say to people who wonder why you -- you, as commander in chief, you have authorities that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t have, as commander in chief?

TRUMP No, no. She has authority over the Capitol.

WELKER: Why didn’t you send help in that moment, though?

TRUMP: Uh, frankly, just so you understand, I assumed that she took care of it. She turned down --

WELKER: But when you realized that the National Guard wasn’t coming? When help wasn’t coming?

TRUMP: Well, you don’t realize anything until quite a while. National Guard are not coming. I asked her to be there three days in advance. And she turned it down.

WELKER: She says that that request was never officially made, just so you know.

Headline of the day

The number of the day is … 12

That’s how many days are left before the federal government shuts down due to lack of funding, unless congressional lawmakers are able to pass a short-term spending bill before the end of the month.

Over the weekend, House Republicans tentatively agreed to a short-term spending bill that would cut domestic spending and includes conservative border security measures. Although key factions of the House Republican conference came together to back the bill, it’s unlikely to succeed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Other numbers to know

2: The number of Republican state Senators in Texas who broke with their party on Saturday and voted to convict state Attorney General Ken Paxton on several impeachment articles, though Paxton was ultimately acquitted. 

100 to 200: The number of migrants released into the U.S. per day last week in Nogales, Ariz., as the number of people crossing the Southern border into the U.S. rises.

32: The number of direct messages from former President Donald Trump’s account that X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, turned over to special counsel Jack Smith’s office

42 million: The number of Americans who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which congressional Republicans are targeting as lawmakers seek to reach a deal on government funding.

3: The number of men acquitted last week in a trial over a 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

103: The number of warplanes China sent toward Taiwan in a 24-hour period, in a move that Taiwanese leaders called “harassment.”

More than 500%: The increase in campaign spending on security for House and Senate candidates between the 2020 and 2022 elections, the Washington Post found. 

34%: The portion of registered voters in a new CBS News/YouGov poll who say President Biden would finish another term if he’s re-elected next year.

Eyes on 2024: Strike stakes for Biden and Trump

The United Auto Workers strike has presented a political challenge for both President Joe Biden, who has pledged to be “the most pro-union president” in history, and former President Donald Trump, who helped bring more union members into the GOP fold.

Biden said Friday that “no one wants a strike,” but added, “I respect workers’ right to use their options under the collective bargaining system,” per NBC News’ Peter Alexander and Rebecca Shabad. The White House is also planning to send a team, including White House adviser Gene Sperling and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, to Detroit early this week to help resolve the standoff, NBC News’ Monica Alba, Jesse Kirsch and Will Ujek report.

Trump, meanwhile, criticized union leadership and said the push for electric cars will drive vehicle production out of the U.S. and into China. 

“The auto workers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump,” Trump told “Meet the Press.”

The Detroit News reported over the weekend that Trump was planning to visit the picket line, but the campaign told NBC News’ Jake Traylor that no visit is on the former president’s schedule. 

Republicans are also hoping the strike could give them an opening in Michigan, a top presidential battleground that’s also hosting an open Senate race next year. The GOP is monitoring the strike and weighing using the standoff to highlight Democrats’ clean energy policies, per Politico.

In other campaign news…

Trump talk: Special counsel Jack Smith requested a narrow gag order for Trump in the election interference case, writing that Trump “has an established practice of issuing inflammatory public statements targeted at individuals or institutions that present an obstacle or challenge to him.” Trump gag order, per NBC News’ Ryan J. Reilly and Daniel Barnes

Hunter headache: Some people close to Biden are concerned his son Hunter’s legal troubles “could divide his attention at a time when he needs to be fully focused on what’s expected to be a razor close election,” write NBC News’ Mike Memoli, Carol E. Lee and Monica Alba. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also said Friday that Biden would not pardon Hunter if his son is convicted on federal charges. 

Democratic divide: The New York Times delves into the divide between Democratic Party leaders, who have lined up behind Biden, and the party’s voters, who have been hesitant to support the president and voiced concerns about Biden’s age.

DeSantis leans in: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is escalating his criticism of the federal government’s Covid shot policies as he tries to draw a contrast with Trump, per the Washington Post. 

Haley on the trail: Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has continued to flex her foreign policy credentials on the campaign trail in Iowa, NBC News’ Alex Tabet and Greg Hyatt report. The Washington Post also delves into Haley’s electability case

Vivek’s take: Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy told Politico he plans to “gut” a temporary visa system for foreign workers, which his former company used more than two dozen times. 

Pipeline politics: GOP presidential hopefuls are being confronted with questions about proposed carbon dioxide pipelines in Iowa as they campaign in the Hawkeye State, forcing them “to strike a delicate balance among protecting landowners’ rights, supporting the ethanol industry and demonstrating an understanding of the critical role agriculture plays statewide,” write NBC News’ Jillian Frankel and Alex Tabet.

Arrest in L.A.: A man armed with a loaded gun was arrested outside of a campaign event for Democrat Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Friday in Los Angeles, per NBC News’ Katherine Koretski and Lindsey Pipia.

Debate drama: Louisiana gubernatorial candidates, including GOP frontrunner Attorney General Jeff Landry, the state’s attorney general, and Democrat Shawn Wilson, clashed in a Friday debate over issues such as abortion and police brutality, per the Associated Press.

Running it back: Ohio Democrats are trying to build on last months’ ballot referendum victory as they look to rally voters to adopt a constitutional amendment codifying abortion protections, NBC News’ Megan Lebowitz reports

Virginia is for fundraisers: The Washington Post reports that Democratic candidates for Virginia’s state legislative races outraised Republican ones, although Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s strong fundraising is boosting his party ahead of Election Day.   

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world:

A top Iranian official said a prisoner swap in exchange for humanitarian funds with the U.S would happen on Monday now that the money involved has made it to Qatar, the Associated Press reports

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will meet with senators at the U.S. Capitol this week.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham narrowed her ban on carrying guns to just parks and playgrounds in the Albuquerque area amid a court fight over whether a broader ban was constitutional.