WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday abruptly canceled a news conference scheduled for the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, blaming the House committee investigating the riot.
"In light of the total bias and dishonesty of the J6 Unselect Committee of Democrats, two failed Republicans, and the Fake News Media, I am canceling the Jan 6th Press Conference at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday, and instead will discuss many of those important topics at my rally," Trump said in a statement.
The move provided a sense of relief to some in his party. The prospect of Trump's using the date to lie again about the 2020 election, a falsehood that fueled the assault on Congress, had not sat well with many in his circle.
"No one understands it," a former Trump adviser said earlier this week in an interview, trying to explain Trump's earlier decision to hold the news conference. "It's all about his ego."
With House Republicans confident that they are poised to take control of Congress in November's midterm elections, Trump's plan to counterprogram against official Washington's commemoration of the attempted insurrection represented a potential liability.
"It's helpful that Trump has decided not to use this day for hyperbolic political hits, and for the sake of the country, Democrats should do the same," said a senior Republican aide on Capitol Hill.
A majority of Americans — 60 percent — said Trump's level of responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack was either a "great deal" or a "good amount," according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released Saturday. The survey found, however, that 72 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Trump voters said he is not responsible at all or bears "just some" responsibility.
Some Republican officials would like to move past Trump's lie that he was defrauded of the presidency.
Whatever misgivings fellow Republicans had about the news conference — at which Trump was expected to prosecute the moot and dishonest case that he won — he did not attribute his decision to resistance among his allies or within the broader GOP.
Instead, he blamed the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, which has interviewed more than 300 witnesses and initiated contempt-of-Congress charges against two of his former top aides. It plans to conduct public hearings as early as this spring.
Trump said he would address the Jan. 6 anniversary at a previously scheduled rally in Arizona on Jan. 15, rather than at a news conference.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris plan to speak about the attack Thursday, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has scheduled a series of events to mark the anniversary.