At the end of Tuesday’s hearing of the House January 6 committee, Rep. Liz Cheney revealed yet one more bombshell from a congressional investigation that has been full of them.
Former President Donald Trump, Cheney said, called a witness who is planning to testify at a future House hearing, in an apparent attempt to influence their upcoming testimony. Cheney did not identify the witness but said that the committee was alerted about the call by the witness’s lawyer. Trump called the witness in the last few days — after the committee’s previous hearing, in which former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson delivered explosive testimony about Trump’s volatile behavior on January 6. The committee has referred the matter to the Justice Department for investigation into possible witness tampering by Trump.
The January 6 committee’s investigation into the insurrection and Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election has turned into perhaps the best congressional inquiry since the Church Committee’s legendary investigation of the intelligence community in the 1970s. The House committee has patiently and meticulously laid out the evidence of Trump’s illegal efforts to overturn the election and incite a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, making it clear, once and for all, that he was the puppet master behind the surging mob seeking to prevent the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
In fact, the allegation of witness tampering by Trump is just the latest in a series of possible criminal acts disclosed by the committee. In seven hearings so far, the committee has portrayed the former president’s behavior as far worse than was previously known. The House committee has uncovered much more than the media ever expected and has provided mountains of evidence that should be used by the Justice Department to intensify its criminal investigation of Trump and his cronies.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the committee showed that Trump carefully planned to incite the mob to march on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, when Congress was meeting to certify the election results. In fact, the leaders of the rally held outside the White House on January 6 knew in advance that Trump was planning to urge the crowd to go to the Capitol. “POTUS is going to have us march there/the Capitol,” said Kylie Jane Kremer, a rally organizer, in a January 4, 2021, text message shown by the committee.
The committee also showed that Trump decided to incite the insurrection after all of his other illicit efforts to overturn the election had failed. Tuesday’s hearing focused in part on a bizarre meeting at the White House on December 18, 2020, in which Trump surrounded himself with conspiracy theorists, including attorney Sidney Powell and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, to discuss seizing voting machines. Pat Cipollone, Trump’s former White House lawyer, testified about how he fought the crazed ideas coming from the people whispering to Trump in his final days in the White House. Right after the marathon meeting ended in the middle of the night, Trump began to incite an insurrection. At 1:42 a.m. on December 19, he wrote a tweet urging his supporters to come to Washington. “Be there, will be wild.”
Tuesday’s astonishing hearing added to the portrait of an unhinged Trump that was sketched by Hutchinson in her June 28 hearing. Hutchinson, a key aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, disclosed that Trump knew that some in the crowd on January 6 were armed and still urged them to go to the Capitol. She also revealed that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol to lead the crowd and that he tried to grab the steering wheel from a Secret Service agent when his detail refused to take him there.
The hearings of the January 6 committee, including Hutchinson’s testimony, have been must-see television, depicting Trump as a psychopath and a criminal who sought to turn the U.S. into a dictatorship.