Six months after he had been summarily removed as the manager of the campaign he helped build, Brad Parscale watched the aftermath of the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and texted a colleague.
“This is about Trump pushing for uncertainty in our country,” Mr. Parscale told Katrina Pierson, another Donald J. Trump adviser and one who had warned other officials about some of the people appearing at Mr. Trump’s rally at the Ellipse, ahead of the riot.
“A sitting president asking for civil war,” wrote Mr. Parscale, who ran Mr. Trump’s digital campaign in 2016. “This week I feel guilty for helping him win.”
“You did what you felt right at the time and therefore it was right,” Ms. Pierson replied. “Yeah,” Mr. Parscale said. “But a woman is dead,” prompting Ms. Pierson to reply, “You do realize this was going to happen.”
“Yeah. If I was trump and knew my rhetoric killed someone,” Mr. Parscale said, to which Ms. Pierson replied: “It wasn’t rhetoric.”
Mr. Parscale then said, “Katrina. Yes it was.”
Mr. Parscale’s texts were coming after a long and complicated history with Mr. Trump. The former president fired Mr. Parscale and then, in September 2020, Mr. Parscale had a personal breakdown. Police were called to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where his wife told officers he was inside the house, ranting, acting erratically, with a loaded and cocked gun. He was hospitalized and then worked to move on by restarting his political consulting firm, Parscale Strategy, and a few other business ventures.
His raw missives reflected a sentiment that many other Trump advisers, privately and publicly, described having as they watched the events of that day. Several Cabinet officials resigned, and former officials issued statements condemning what had taken place. But few officials were as interwoven with Mr. Trump’s political operation, and his rhetoric about fighting, as Mr. Parscale.
Mr. Parscale is still deeply interwoven with Mr. Trump’s operation. His company powers Mr. Trump’s email blasts, among other activities, and he helped create Mr. Trump’s online fund-raising apparatus.
People close to Mr. Trump, who often tries to punish people for speaking against him, grumbled privately, according to people familiar with his comments, about the text messages after they were shown. But given how entangled Mr. Parscale is with Mr. Trump’s political operation, it remains to be seen whether there will be fallout.