Former deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews on Wednesday said former President Trump is a threat to democracy and called out his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.
“I do think that he poses a threat to democracy. I think that Jan. 6 showed that, and that was part of my reason for resigning,” Matthews said of the former president to host Jake Tapper on “CNN Tonight.” Matthews resigned from the White House on the day of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“He failed to act that day. He had every opportunity to call off the mob and condemn the violence. We’ve seen from taped testimony from several of my colleagues that folks were pleading with him to do that. And he didn’t ever pick up the phone once,” Matthews said.
Matthews testified in July before the House select committee investigating Jan. 6, saying that Trump greenlighted the rioters by tweeting to criticize then-Vice President Mike Pence for not rejecting the Electoral College vote in the 2020 election.
“Furthermore than just Jan. 6, he’s continued to push the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him with zero evidence of that. And I think that does pose a threat to our democracy,” Matthews said in the CNN interview.
She posited that some members of her party “know better” but stick by Trump’s election claims in order to “stay in the good graces of Trump World,” while other election deniers “truly are detached from reality.”
On CNN Wednesday, Matthews said she felt circumstances throughout her tenure in the Trump White House built up in a “slow burn” to her resignation, but that she felt spurred to make the decision when Trump in a video on Jan. 6 told his supporters that he loved them and called them “very special.”
“That was really the moment for me when I knew that I was going to resign,” Matthews said.
She said she’s hopeful that speaking out to say “Donald Trump is lying to the American people about the 2020 election” will encourage others in the Republican Party to reject the former president’s lies.
“I think that the more people that are willing to stand up and speak the truth will save the Republican party, but I’m not encouraged by the direction that it’s headed right now,” Matthews said.
The Jan. 6 committee is set to hold a public hearing Thursday, possibly its last.
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