The Jan. 6 committee is requesting voluntary cooperation from Fox News host and Trump ally Sean Hannity, Chair Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney wrote in a letter released Tuesday. The news was first reported by Axios.
Thompson and Cheney cited “dozens” of text messages Hannity exchanged with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as well as Hannity’s direct communications with President Trump ahead of Jan. 6. The letter also notes that the committee is in possession of a text Hannity sent on the night of Jan. 5 expressing concern over what was going to happen over the course of the next two days.
“With the counting of the electoral votes scheduled for January 6th at 1 p.m., why were you concerned about the next 48 hours?” Thompson and Cheney wrote.
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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who sits on the committee, explained of the committee’s intention to speak with Hannity shortly before the letter was released.
“Yes,” Schiff said during an MSNBC appearance Tuesday. “I think you’ll see an announcement about that very soon. We believe that he was texting with the chief of staff and that he has information that would be relevant to our committee. He was more than a Fox host, he was also a confidante, advisor, campaigner for the former president.” Schiff added that, to his knowledge, the panel intends to ask Hannity for his voluntary cooperation.
Hannity was outed last month as having texted Mark Meadows during the Jan. 6 attack, asking the former White House chief of staff, “Can [Trump] make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.” Meadows turned the texts, as well as other relevant communications — including an email referencing a PowerPoint on how to subvert democracy — over to the committee voluntarily before deciding to halt his cooperation.
Despite his text on Jan. 6, which suggested Trump had influence over the crowd, Hannity has recently floated the conspiracy theory (also pushed by Tucker Carlson on the network’s streaming platform) that parts of Jan. 6 were “staged.” “Do I think there were some people, based on the reports, that there were people that had staged certain things?” Hannity said on his radio show last month. “Yeah, I think that’s true.”
Responding to the news of his text to Meadows, Hannity said on his show: “Surprise, surprise, surprise: I said to Mark Meadows the exact same thing I was saying live on the radio at that time and on TV that night on Jan. 6 and well beyond Jan. 6.”
Here’s part of what Hannity said on his show that night: “I’d like to know who the agitators were,” he told viewers, adding that “those who truly support President Trump … do not support those that commit acts of violence.”
“I don’t care if the radical left, radical right — I don’t know who they are,” Hannity continued. “They’re not people I would support. So how were officials not prepared? We got to answer that question. How did they allow the Capitol building to be breached in what seemed like less than a few minutes?”
In a statement to Axios, Hannity’s attorney, Jay Sekulow (who was also on Trump’s impeachment defense team) said, “If true, any such request would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press.”
Included in the texts that Meadows provided the committee, some of which were read aloud at a hearing by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), were messages from other Fox News hosts, including Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade. “Please get [Trump] on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” Kilmeade pleaded. Ingraham, too, wanted Trump to quell the violence. “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” she wrote. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
There’s no word yet on whether the committee plans to request cooperation from Ingraham or Kilmeade.
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