s the violent mob incited by President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, some West Wing staffers panicked that they were possibly becoming participants in a coup to overthrow the government. “What do I do? Resign?” one nervous White House staffer asked a friend on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after news broke that a woman had been shot and killed inside the Capitol. The West Wing staffer told the friend that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was urging White House officials not to speak to Trump or enable his coup attempt in any way, so they could reduce the chance they could be prosecuted for treason under the Sedition Act. “They’re being told to stay away from Trump,” the friend said. The White House declined to comment.
Cipollone’s purported concern that Trump was committing treason––a federal crime––illustrates the chaos and fear of Wednesday’s unprecedented events. At least one staffer isn’t waiting to flee the ship. On Wednesday night, CNN reported that Stephanie Grisham, the former White House communications director and Melania Trump’s current chief of staff, resigned over the Trump-inspired riot. As staff quit or steer clear, Trump is increasingly isolated and alone. According to a person close to the White House, Trump refused to take calls on Wednesday from business leaders who wanted him to call off the insurrectionists. A former West Wing staffer said Republicans were texting and calling Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to lobby him to intervene, but Meadows wasn’t answering.