UPDATE, 2:31 PM PT: The House committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol released its letter requesting cooperation from Fox News host Sean Hannity.
In the letter — which you can read here — they also included some of Hannity’s texts he sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and other Donald Trump allies in the days before and after the riot at the Capitol complex. They show concerns that Hannity had over the effort by the president’s supporters to challenge the electoral vote count on January 6.
On Dec. 31, according to the committee, Hannity wrote to Meadows, “We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6 th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”
In their letter to Hannity, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and its vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), wrote, “Among many other things, this text suggests that you had knowledge of concerns by President Trump’s White House Counsel’s Office regarding the legality of the former President’s plans for January 6th. These facts are directly relevant to our inquiry.”
Hannity has been a defender of Trump and his team, and his tight relationship with them has long been well known. But the texts shed light on the extent to which he offered his advice to the president’s team, as January 6th committee members say he took on the role of adviser or political operative.
On the evening of January 5, according to the committee, Hannity wrote, “Im very worried about the next 48 hours.” In another text sent on Jan. 5, Hannity wrote to Meadows, “Pence pressure. WH counsel will leave.” That was an apparent warning that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone would leave the administration if pressure was placed on Vice President Mike Pence to reject the electoral vote count on January 6. Pence did not.
Thompson and Cheney wrote that they had questions of what Hannity knew about plans for January 6th, and why he felt that there was a possibility that Cipollone would leave.
They wrote to Hannity, “It also appears from other text messages that you may have had a conversation directly with President Trump on the evening of January 5th (and perhaps at other times) regarding his planning for January 6th. Each of these non-privileged communications is directly relevant to our investigation.”
Last month, Cheney revealed texts that Hannity and other Fox News personalities sent to Meadows as the January 6th riots were unfolding. They pleaded with Meadows to get the president to make a statement to tamp down the attacks. “Can he make a statement, ask people to leave the Capitol?” Hannity wrote to Meadows.
Later that afternoon, according to the committee, Hannity texted Meadows again, sharing with him press coverage relating to efforts by members of Trump’s cabinet to remove the president from office under the 25th Amendment. “We would like to question you regarding any conversations you had with Mr. Meadows or others about any effort to remove the President under the 25th Amendment,” Thompson and Cheney wrote.
They also wrote that Hannity appeared to have “detailed knowledge regarding President Trump’s state of mind in the days following the January 6th attack.”
“For example, you appear to have had a discussion with President Trump on January 10th that may have raised a number of specific concerns about his possible actions in the days before the January 20th inaugural,” they wrote.
They cited a text message that Hannity wrote to Meadows and another Trump ally, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), in which the Fox News host wrote, “Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”
They wrote that they were not seeking information from Hannity on his broadcasts or commentary, but “factual information directly relevant to the events of January 6th and the attack on the institutions of our democracy.”
Hannity’s role in the Trump orbit has previously crossed a line at the network. In 2018, when he spoke at a campaign rally in advance of the midterm elections, the network issued a rare rebuke.
Meanwhile, Trump has canceled plans to hold a press conference on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the Capitol siege, blaming the media and the January 6th Committee.
Trump released a statement to CNN in which he said, “I disagree with Sean on that statement and the facts are proving me right.”
PREVIOUSLY: The House committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol plans to seek the voluntary cooperation of Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a member of the committee, told CNN on Tuesday that the committee has dozens of texts that Hannity sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, “in his role as an apparent political operative, indications of his communications with the president and others on strategy.”
Lofgren said that the committee is making a request to Hannity, and that it was not a subpoena.
“We have asked him to cooperate with us as a fact witness out of his sense of patriotism, and we hope that he will respond because we have so many of these texts and pieces of evidence indicating that he was outside of his role as a press person, acting as a political operative,” Lofgren said.
In an appearance on MSNBC, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) also confirmed the request to Hannity. Axios, which first reported the request, quoted Hannity’s attorney, Jay Sekulow as saying, “If true, any such request would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press.” Fox News has not released a statement on the House request.
Lofgren said that texts obtained by the committee are “relating to a variety of subjects, plotting on the 6th, strategy about WH counsel and the like, and we would like to ask [Hannity] about that. It is not about his broadcast or his political views or anything of that nature.”
Last month, Hannity blasted the committee after its top Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), disclosed a text that he sent to Meadows as the January 6th siege was unfolding, along with those sent by other Fox News personalities. They pleaded with Meadows to get President Donald Trump to make a public statement to get the rioters to end the assault. “Can he make a statement, ask people to leave the Capitol?” Hannity wrote to Meadows.
On his Jan. 6 show last year, Hannity condemned the violence and said that “all of today’s perpetrators must be arrested an prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” But he went on to call the election a “trainwreck,” and cited a Gallup poll that showed 83% “do not have faith in these election results.”
“You can’t just snap that finger and hope it goes away,” he said. He added that there were “always bad actors that will infiltrate large crowds.”
On his radio show, Hannity talked of reports “that groups like Antifa…were there to cause trouble.” But no evidence was found that Antifa protesters were involved in the attack on the Capitol, and a widely cited January 6 Washington Times story that suggested so was debunked. The publication issued a correction.
Before and since the attack, Trump has made the false claim that the election was stolen from him, even though his own Justice Department failed to find evidence of widespread fraud. Trump and his allies also lost dozens of court challenges, while recounts and audits failed to change the outcome.
On MSNBC, Schiff said that Hannity “was more than a Fox host. He was also a confidant, adviser, campaigner for the former president. And I would hope that, if he’s asked by the committee, as I expect he will be very soon, that he would cooperate with us.”
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