Politico

New details of Jan. 6 panel's mystery messages emerge


The Jan. 6 select committee publicly pointed to two communications this week as potential evidence of Trump-world’s efforts to influence witness testimony — without revealing their origin. Both were detailed to the panel by Cassidy Hutchinson, according to a person familiar with the last of her four depositions.

Both of the two slides that the panel revealed at the end of its live hearing with Hutchinson reflected conversations she described to the committee in her final closed-door deposition, this person said. Hutchinson told the committee at the time that, on the eve of her earlier March 7 deposition, an intermediary for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows contacted her to say that her former boss valued her loyalty.

“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow,” read a slide that the Jan. 6 committee broadcast at the end of Hutchinson’s hearing, which Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) characterized as pressure on a key witness. “He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

Meadows is the person whose name was redacted in that slide. Contents of that final deposition were described to POLITICO, which could not independently corroborate the identity of the intermediary or that Meadows directed any message be delivered to Hutchinson before her second deposition.

The other slide the Capitol riot committee unveiled at the end of its hearing with Hutchinson this week quoted an unnamed witness, now known to be the former Trump White House aide herself, describing multiple phone calls she received from allies of the former president.

“What they said to me is as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the right team,” the slide said. “I’m doing the right thing. I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts.”

Ben Williamson, a spokesperson for Meadows, provided the following statement to POLITICO: “No one from Meadows’ camp, himself or otherwise, has ever attempted to intimidate or shape Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony to the committee. Any phone call or message she is describing is at best deeply misleading.”

A lawyer for Hutchinson did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Jan. 6 committee declined to comment.

Cheney, during Tuesday’s blockbuster hearing with Hutchinson, suggested the messages broadcast were efforts by Trump allies to dissuade key witnesses from coming forward. Neither the sender nor the recipient of the messages were revealed at the time.

“I think most Americans know that attempting to influence witnesses to testify untruthfully presents very serious concerns,” Cheney said after presenting the messages. “We will be discussing these issues as a committee and carefully considering our next steps.”

In a post-hearing interview, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) described the messages as possibly indicative of witness tampering.

“The vice chair released two different episodes of potential witness tampering, anonymously, for obvious reasons. We don’t want further intimidation of the same people,” Raskin told The Washington Post. “But we want this to be a warning to the people who are doing it that they can’t do it. It is a crime and this committee is taking it very seriously.”

Hutchinson’s testimony on Tuesday has shed significant new light on former President Donald Trump’s actions in the lead-up to the Capitol siege and sparked significant new leads for the select committee’s investigation. During her time in the Trump White House, she worked directly under Meadows and was sometimes called “the chief’s chief.”

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