“Let me say it again,” Cheney, the panel’s vice chair, said at the hearing. “We will make every effort to take testimony very seriously.”
The revelation was extraordinary because the call allegedly came from Trump himself rather than an intermediary, and followed a warning at the committee’s previous hearing on June 28 about messages to one of the committee’s witnesses. A person familiar with the committee’s work said that both messages Cheney read aloud during that earlier hearing were addressed to Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Trump White House aide who was the star witness that day.
According to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the former president called witnesses throughout the Jan. 6 investigation disclose confidential conversations. Those familiar with the matter ruled out a number of former officials as recipients of the latest call, which Cheney highlighted, saying it was not former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone; his deputy Patrick Philbin; former media representative Sarah Matthews or Judd Deere; or former campaign manager Brad Parscale. Matthews is expected to appear publicly at the next, and possibly final, hearing, people with knowledge of the plans said.
A Cheney spokesman declined to answer questions about whether Trump left a voicemail, the identity of the witness, or whether the committee has evidence the call was definitely about the Jan. 6 committee.
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A spokesman for Trump declined to comment on who the former president may have called. “The media has become the pawn of the Unselect Committee,” said spokesman Taylor Budowich, using a common Trump phrase for the House Select Committee. “Liz Cheney continues to trade innuendos and lies that remain unchallenged and uncorroborated but are repeated as fact because the narrative is more important than the truth.”
It is a crime to pressure someone to lie to government investigators. But accusations of witness tampering usually involve at least one witness and some form of corroboration, such as a written message or tape recording. Without a better clue as to what Trump said, litigation could be difficult, experts said.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions here as this does not appear to be a completed call,” said Andrew Weissmann, a member of the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. “What surprises me is the temerity of making this call myself . It may indicate that his circle of people willing to do his bidding may be narrowing.”
Jason Miller, a longtime Trump adviser, has criticized Cheney’s disclosure as more of a publicity stunt than serious legal concerns.
“It’s a classic game of political misdirection,” said Miller, who testified before the committee. “Cheney and the committee knew they had nothing of reference today regarding President Trump.”
Cheney was meticulous about ending each of the committee’s seven hearings with a tantalizing revelation, and advisers say she carefully reviews the scripts, trying to get people to understand the committee’s work so they want to keep tuning in. Her office usually refuses to say more than what she says publicly. She has also examined how she believes impeachment and other investigations have failed.
Trump and his allies have a long history of coercing witnesses with varying degrees of subtlety to protect the boss from legal jeopardy. At the previous hearing, Cheney quoted from the witness account of one of the contacts: One person called and said, “Let me know you have your testimony tomorrow. He wants me to tell you that he’s thinking of you. He knows you are loyal and will do what is right if you come forward with your testimony.”
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During Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to help Trump, longtime Trump aide Roger Stone was accused of urging radio host Randy Credico not to cooperate with congressional investigators, including through threats by Credico’s dog. The indictment included quoted emails and text messages. Stone was convicted of witness tampering, but Trump pardoned him in December 2020.
The special counsel’s report cited an email that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani forwarded to Michael Cohen, Trump’s fixer who was about to turn on his boss. “You are ‘loved,'” the email read. “Sleep well tonight… you have friends in high places.”
Similarly, an attorney for Trump voicemailed an attorney for Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was considering cooperating in the special counsel’s investigation, reminding Flynn “what we always know about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and.” have said that remains.”
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, also charged in the Russia probe, was ordered back to prison in 2018 after prosecutors said he and an associate contacted two members of a public relations firm, asking them to falsely testify about secret lobbying. The prosecution’s case involved text messages and phone calls, as well as an affidavit from one of the people Manafort called. Trump also pardoned Manafort.
In addition, Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation noted that Trump wanted then-White House Counsel Donald McGahn to write a memo denying that Trump intended to fire Mueller, which would have contradicted a statement McGahn had made had already submitted.
Close congressional ally Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) also faced an ethics probe for tweeting about Cohen before testifying before a House committee in 2019. “Do your wife and father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Perhaps tonight would be a good time for this conversation. I wonder if she’ll stay faithful when you’re in prison. She will learn a lot.” Gaetz apologized and deleted the message. The House Ethics Committee criticized Gaetz but concluded that he did not violate any laws against witness tampering.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/07/12/trump-witness-tampering-jan-6/ January 6 committee escalates showdown with Trump over witness tampering