Trump’s appeal to the staffer, who is still in public service, was revealed Tuesday by committee vice chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) at the end of the committee’s seventh hearing.
“After our last hearing, President Trump attempted to call a witness in our investigation,” Cheney said. “A witness you haven’t seen in these hearings yet. This person declined to answer or respond to President Trump’s call and instead alerted his attorney to the call.
“Their lawyer alerted us and this committee provided this information to the Department of Justice,” Cheney added, without identifying the witness.
CNN first reported on the staffer’s role. A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
President Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters Wednesday that the Justice Department must determine whether Trump’s call amounted to witness tampering. It is illegal to try to interfere with the testimony of a witness by threats or promised rewards. Thompson said the committee would not release the person’s name.
“You know, we are obviously concerned about the witness. And we’re not going to put this witness at risk unnecessarily,” Thompson said.
Hutchinson offered explosive revelations during her testimony, including that she was at the White House on December 1, 2020, when a valet pointed her to “dripping ketchup on the wall” and a “broken china plate on the floor” of the dining room.
She said the valet told her the president was “extremely angry … and threw away his lunch.” The incident follows an interview with then-Attorney General William P. Barr with The Associated Press, in which he said the Justice Department had seen no evidence of systematic voter fraud.
Hutchinson’s Testimony: Assessing the Basis of the Assistant’s Explosive Claims
Hutchinson also said a senior White House official told him about a fight between Trump and his Secret Service over whether he would be taken to Capitol Hill after his speech to protesters at the Ellipse on January 6, 2021. And she testified that Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol when they knew some had come armed with weapons.
After Hutchinson’s public testimony on June 28, Cheney referred to two phone calls received from a witness – later revealed to be Hutchinson – which Cheney said raised “significant concern.”
“What they told me is that as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m in the right 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, vice chairman of the committee, said the witness.
Trump regularly called witnesses involved in the investigation, including former White House officials and campaign advisers, and complained about the committee to a number of those people, two people who said heard his comments.
In recent days, his advisers have tried to defend the practice, saying many of those involved in the investigation are also critical members of his political orbit.
Trump is a prolific phone worker, sometimes making 50 to 100 calls a day to the White House, former administration officials said. He often used multiple cell phones, bypassing White House protocols and guards who would have preferred calls to go through a secure switchboard.
How Trump’s world is pressuring witnesses to deny potential wrongdoing
At one point, Trump asked an aide to buy him a cellphone because then-chief of staff John F. Kelly was trying to monitor his calls, former administration officials said.
The committee continued its investigation behind closed doors, even as it prepares for a public hearing next Thursday that will focus on the 187 minutes in which a pro-Trump mob attacked the US Capitol before Trump released a video calling on the rioters to go home.
Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne is expected to meet with investigators on Friday. Byrne was present at the December 18, 2020 meeting at the White House where Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sidney Powell, a pro-Trump lawyer, urged Trump to seize the voting machines and appoint Powell as a special adviser to help his efforts to overturn the election results.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a member of the committee, reiterated his interest in requesting an interview with former Vice President Mike Pence and Trump. He told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that the panel may ultimately decide to try to compel Pence to testify by issuing a subpoena to the former vice president.
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