The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is requesting the voluntary cooperation of Fox News host Sean Hannity, saying it has information that indicates Hannity had relevant communications with President Donald Trump and some White House staff leading up to the Capitol siege and in the days afterward.
That information also showed Hannity expressed concerns and provided advice to Trump and White House staff members about that planning, wrote Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the chair and vice chair of the committee, respectively.
“You also had relevant communications while the riot was underway, and in the days thereafter,” they wrote. “These communications make you a fact witness in our investigation.”
According to the letter, the panel already has dozens of text messages that Hannity sent to and received from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
For example, according to the committee letter, Hannity texted Meadows on Dec. 31, 2020: “We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6 th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”
“Among many other things, this text suggests that you had knowledge of concerns by President Trump’s White House Counsel’s Office regarding the legality of the former President’s plans for January 6th,” Thompson and Cheney wrote. “These facts are directly relevant to our inquiry.”
Hannity also apparently sent and received a stream of texts the night before the insurrection, including one to Meadows that said he was “very worried about the next 48 hours” and another that read: “Pence pressure. WH counsel will leave.”
“What communications or information led you to conclude that White House Counsel would leave?” Thompson and Cheney wrote. “What precisely did you know at that time?”
A Fox News Channel spokeswoman declined to comment. Jay Sekulow, Hannity’s attorney, said in an email: “The request raises serious constitutional issues. We are reviewing the Committees letter and will respond as appropriate.”
In a statement to Axios, Sekulow argued that the committee’s request would raise “First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press.”
The bipartisan House panel is investigating the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the confirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win, an attack that resulted in five deaths and injured about 140 members of law enforcement.
Thompson and Cheney said Hannity appeared to have detailed knowledge about Trump’s state of mind following the storming of the Capitol based on a conversation that he may have had with the president Jan. 10. The committee leaders cited a message from Hannity to Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a close Trump ally.
“Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?” Hannity wrote.
Thompson and Cheney closed by asking Hannity to preserve all records of the relevant communications and to provide the committee the name of his counsel. They emphasized that they were not seeking information about broadcasts of his Fox News show or his political views.
“We have no doubt that you love our country and respect our Constitution,” they wrote. “Now is the time to step forward and serve the interests of your country. We thank you in advance for your cooperation.”
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.