First on CNN: Trump tried to call a White House support staff member to speak with the Jan. 6 committee, sources say | CNN Politics



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Former President Donald Trump attempted to call a member of the White House support staff who was speaking to the House Select Committee investigating on Jan. 6, 2021, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

The support staff member was not someone who communicated regularly with the former president and was concerned about the contact, the sources said, and told his attorney.

The call came after former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified publicly before the committee. The White House staffer was able to corroborate some of what Hutchinson said under oath, the sources said.

CNN was told the location of the witness Trump tried to call, but not the name of the person. Details of the witness Trump attempted to contact have not previously been reported.

The initial revelation about Trump’s phone call came in a dramatic moment at the end of this week’s hearing by committee deputy chair Liz Cheney. Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, revealed that Trump “attempted to call” an anonymous witness in the committee’s investigation. She said the witness “refused or refused to respond” to Trump’s call and instead alerted his attorney. The committee has since provided this information to the Department of Justice.

“We will take any effort to influence testimony very seriously,” Cheney said during the hearing on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the House Select Committee declined to comment. A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rep. Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat who serves on the committee, told CNN on Tuesday that the person Trump tried to call spoke with the panel.

“Trump himself had called someone who spoke with us,” Aguilar said.

A source close to the panel’s investigation added that the committee spoke to the person Trump tried to call, but not as part of a deposition.

Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the committee, told CNN on Wednesday that Trump’s attempt to call the witness was concerning enough to report it to the Justice Department.

“From my perspective, it’s very unusual to do this, and that’s why we’re more or less putting this in the hands of the Department of Justice, to make this decision,” Thompson said, when asked. he was asked if Trump’s act calling the person had enough evidence to determine whether he was trying to intimidate a witness. “We are concerned about the safety of witnesses.”

This is not the first time that the committee has expressed concern about the possible tampering of witnesses.

“It has been an ongoing trend and we are trying to send the message that witness tampering is a crime in the United States of America. People should not approach witnesses to try to get them to change their testimony,” Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, who sits on the panel, told CNN on Tuesday.

At the end of the hearing with Hutchinson last month, Cheney cited two examples of possible witness intimidation without naming a witness or who had made contact. Sources told CNN that the two cases Cheney recounted during that June hearing were directed at Hutchinson and that Hutchinson believes the messages were intended to influence his testimony.

In one instance, Cheney said a witness received a call in which someone said, “(A person) let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he’s thinking of you. He knows you are loyal and will do the right thing when you show up for your deposition.

Multiple sources previously told CNN that the witness was Hutchinson and that the ‘person’ referred to in the message, which was redacted in the version shown on a screen during the hearing, was the former House chief of staff. Blanche, Meadows.

Ben Williamson, a spokesman for Meadows, denied that Meadows or anyone in his “side” tried to intimidate Hutchinson or influence his testimony.

“No one from the Meadows camp, himself or otherwise, ever sought to intimidate or shape his conversations with the committee,” Williamson told CNN.

The second example previously cited by the committee — a witness statement detailing the pressure campaign from Trump’s orbit — also implicated Hutchinson, the sources told CNN.

“What they told me is that as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m part of the team. I do the right thing. I protect who I have to. protect, you know, I will continue to stay in good graces in Trump World,” Cheney said during the hearing, relaying the statement of the witness who sources now say is Hutchinson. “And they reminded me repeatedly that Trump reads the transcripts and keep that in mind as I conduct my depositions and interviews with the committee.”

This story was updated with additional details on Wednesday.

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