Rep. Liz Cheney ends hearing with bombshell: Donald Trump called a witness in the House January 6 investigation
Donald Trumpcalled a witness in the House January 6 investigation within the last week.
Liz Cheneysaid the witness did not answer but alerted a lawyer, who then told the House panel.
Former President Donald Trump tried to call a witness in the congressional inquiry into the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, Rep. Liz Cheney said Tuesday, prompting House investigators to notify the Justice Department.
"After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation — a witness you have not yet seen in these hearings. That person declined to answer or respond to President Trump's call and, instead, alerted their lawyer to the call," said Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, in a bombshell revelation that concluded the
"Their lawyer alerted us, and this committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice," she added. "Let me say one more time: We will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously."
Cheney, the Hosue January 6 committee's vice chair, had previously gone public with the House January 6 committee's concerns about witness tampering as it continues to investigate the Capitol attack and Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. At the House panel's previous hearing, Cheney revealed evidence that Trump allies were pressuring witnesses, a "practice that raises significant concern," she said.
Without identifying specific individuals, Cheney said Trump allies have urged witnesses to do "the right thing" ahead of appearances before the House January 6 committee.
"I think most Americans know that attempting to influence witnesses to testify untruthfully presents very serious concerns," Cheney said at the committee's June 28 hearing.
It is unclear whether the House January 6 committee alerted the Justice Department to Trump's call in the form of a formal referral. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
The mention of Trump's call capped a three-hour hearing that focused on the former president's embrace of draconian plans to retain power and his role in galvanizing far-right groups that stormed the Capitol on January 6.
The House January 6 committee played footage of former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and two cabinet officials — former Attorney General William Barr and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia — testifying that they knew Trump had lost the election after the Electoral College voted to certify the results in mid-December 2020.
Nonetheless, Trump entertained desperate plans to remain in the White House, including by seizing voting machines and appointing Sidney Powell, a conservative lawyer known for propounding conspiracy theories, as special counsel to investigate baseless claims of voter fraud.
"I was vehemently opposed. I didn't think she should be appointed to anything," Cipollone told the committee in his recorded testimony Friday, a portion of which was played publicly for the first time Tuesday.
Drawing from recorded testimony, the House committee detailed a December 18, 2020, meeting in which Powell and former national security advisor Michael Flynn urged Trump to name Powell special counsel and sign an executive order to seize voting machines. In her own testimony to the House committee, Powell recalled how Cipollone "set a land-speed record" rushing to intervene in the meeting.
"I was not happy to see the people who were in the Oval Ofice," Cipollone said.
During the second half of the hearing, the House committee turned to the incendiary rhetoric in which Trump mobilized his supporters, including members of far-right groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. The House committee highlighted a December 19, 2020 tweet in which Trump said: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said Trump's incendiary rhetoric "electrified and galvanized" supporters. Later, he invoked a phrase from Trump's 2017 inaugural address — "American carnage" — and delved deeper into American history to say "the Watergate break-in was like a Cub Scout meeting compared to this assault on our people and our institutions."
"American carnage: That's Donald Trump's true legacy," Raskin said. "His desire to overthrow the people's election and seize the presidency interrupted the counting of electoral college votes for the first time in American history, nearly toppled the constitutional order and brutalized hundreds and hundreds of people."
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