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Jan. 6 hearing Trump tried to contact committee witness, an effort referred to Justice Department, Cheney says

The Jan. 6, 2021 House committee held its latest public hearing on July 12, focusing on how President Donald Trump summoned far-right militant groups to D.C. (Video: Mahlia Posey/The Washington Post, Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
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Former president Donald Trump recently attempted to contact an unnamed witness in the House select committee investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot — an effort that the panel has since referred to the Justice Department, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chairwoman of the panel, said Tuesday.

“Let me say one more time: We will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously,” Cheney said.

The revelation came toward the end of a hearing in which the committee zeroed in on the violent rhetoric and planning that flowed from a tweet by Trump weeks before Jan. 6 promising a “wild” protest. Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), one of the panel members leading Tuesday’s hearing, said what transpired was “openly homicidal.”

The dead-of-night tweet by Trump on Dec. 19, 2020, followed what was described as an “unhinged” meeting in which White House lawyers and Trump allies advocating baseless claims about the election shouted at one another for hours.

Here’s what to know

  • The committee heard live testimony from Jason Van Tatenhove, who previously served as national spokesman for the Oath Keepers, a group that participated in the riot. Van Tatenhove said the organization is a “dangerous militia” that attracted “white nationalists” and “straight-up racists.”
  • Stephen Ayres, a rioter who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, also testified. He said he was inspired to come to Washington by Trump’s social media posts. “I was hanging on every word he was saying,” Ayres said.
  • In recorded testimony, several White House advisers, including former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, said they had pushed Trump to concede the election long before Jan. 6.
  • In a recorded conversation played Tuesday, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) warned that Trump supporters would “go nuts” at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and said congressional leadership should “come up with a safety plan for members.”
  • The panel presented evidence that there was advance planning for Trump to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6 after his speech on the Ellipse near the White House.
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