The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol released several batches of transcripts from interviews with key staffers and allies of former President Donald Trump.
The transcripts were released as the committee wound down its work at the end of the 117th Congress, before Republicans officially take control of the House on Tuesday. The interviews, conducted over the past year and a half, were part of the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack and Trump’s role in the day’s events.
In their last public hearing, held on Dec. 19, the committee voted to refer to the Justice Department possible criminal charges against Trump and attorney John Eastman.
Here are some key details from the transcripts that were released:
John Eastman takes the 5th
Eastman, who wrote the controversial memo that proposed that former Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to delay or even reject the certification of state electors, exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at almost every major question.
When Eastman was asked why he had written in the two-page memo that seven states had transmitted dual slates of electors despite indicating to The New York Times that there we no certifications of alternate electors, he took the Fifth. He also took the Fifth when asked if he disagreed with former Attorney General Bill Barr’s comment that Trump’s election claims were “bullsh**,” and when asked about comments he made on Jan. 6.
Eastman also pleaded the Fifth when asked if he had recommendations to prevent Jan. 6 from happening again.
Hope Hicks says “we all look like domestic terrorists now”
Text messages from Trump’s communications director Hope Hicks, one of his most loyal aides, were released by the select committee on Monday.
In one exchange with Julie Radford, Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff, Hicks wrote, “In one day he ended every future opportunity that doesn’t include speaking engagements at the local proud boys chapter. And all of us that didn’t have jobs lined up will be perpetually unemployed. I’m so mad and upset … We all look like domestic terrorists now.”
Radford responded, “oh yes, I’ve been crying for an hour.”
Hicks then wrote, “She has no idea this made us all unemployable … Like untouchable … God I’m so f***** mad.”
Ginni Thomas: “I regret the tone and content” of texts with Meadows
Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, attended the rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021 before the Capitol was breached. She also exchanged texts with Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows encouraging him to pursue every effort to overturn the election.
Committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., asked her if she regretted sending the texts, or just that the texts became public.
“I regret the tone and content of these texts,” Thomas said. “And other than that, it was an emotional time, and I was texting with a friend who I had known a long time. So I really find my language imprudent and my choices of sending the context of these emails unfortunate.”
Kellyanne Conway texted Melania Trump on Jan. 6 because Trump has a “fear” of her
Trump 2016 campaign manager and former top adviser Kellyanne Conway resigned in the summer of 2020 but remained close to the Trump family. Conway told the committee that she was trying to get through to Trump on Jan. 6, contacting Hicks and Trump aide Nick Luna, among others. Conway said she also texted Melania Trump.
“I texted her, please — something to the effect of, you know, please talk to him, because I know he listens to her,” Conway said. “He reserves — he listens to many of us, but he reserves fear for one person, Melania Trump.”
Conway said the first lady didn’t answer because she didn’t have her phone that day.
Stephanie Grisham: Trump would never go to the Capitol because he is “afraid of people”
Melania Trump’s former chief of staff Stephanie Grisham, who also served as a White House aide, told the committee that Melania Trump lost her “independent streak” in the final weeks of the administration.
Grisham also said that Trump and chief of staff Mark Meadows tried to fire the usher at the White House after Election Day because he was preparing for the transition for then-President-elect Joe Biden to move in.
At another point, Grisham said that Trump would not have walked to the Capitol on Jan. 6 because he is “afraid of people.”
Cassidy Hutchinson: “They will ruin my life”
Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Meadows, gave blockbuster public testimony at a House Jan. 6 committee hearing on June 28. In an interview with the committee in September, she said she couldn’t afford a lawyer and was worried about finding a pro bono attorney.
“I wanted to be able to do this on my own, and I didn’t want to feel like I was using an attorney in Trump world where I’d potentially have to be responding to their interests as well,” Hutchinson said.
Former White House attorney Eric Herschmann connected Hutchinson with Alex Cannon, she said. Cannon told Hutchinson that “they” had a lawyer for her, but did not disclose who would be paying for it. Hutchinson met with Stefan Passantino, who represented her for her first two interviews with the committee. In a February meeting, Hutchinson testified that Passantino told her they would “downplay” her role at the White House and on Jan. 6.
Hutchinson said she was uncomfortable with the arrangement but felt she had no other choice, telling the committee that she said to her mother, “I am completely indebted to these people … they will ruin my life, Mom, if I do anything they don’t want me to.”
Hutchinson said Passantino told her to keep her answers “short” and said that saying “I don’t recall” is an “entirely acceptable” response because “they don’t know that you recall some of these things.” She told the committee that testifying with him as her lawyer was “felt like (she) had Trump looking over (her) shoulder.”
“I knew in some fashion it would get back to him if I said anything that he would find disloyal. And the prospect of that genuinely scared me. You know, I’d seen this world ruin people’s lives or try to ruin people’s careers. I’d seen how vicious they can be,” Hutchinson said.
She also told the committee that Passantino also mentioned job opportunities and worked to connect her with other people on getting a job, saying, “We’re gonna get you taken care of. We want to keep you in the family.”
[Need to add that Passantino has said that he told her to tell the truth, etc., which I believe was his statement.]