Jan. 6 committee holds eighth hearing

By Maureen Chowdhury, Clare Foran, Elise Hammond and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 11:34 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022
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10:17 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Trump’s final words to White House employee on Jan. 6 before going to the residence: "Mike Pence let me down"

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

(January 6 Committee Exhibit)
(January 6 Committee Exhibit)

On Jan. 6, 2021, when former President Donald Trump went up to the White House residence for the night, his final comment to a White House employee was that “Mike Pence let me down,” according to the committee. 

“President Trump said nothing to the employee about the attack. He said only, ‘Mike Pence let me down,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, said during the hearing. 

Kinzinger did not identify the White House employee. 

Trump was angry at Pence on January 6 because Pence followed the law and refused to use his ceremonial role during the joint session of Congress to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election.

Trump and many of his allies spent weeks pressuring Pence to cast aside dozens of President Biden’s electoral votes and replace them with pro-Trump electors, handing Trump a second term. 

Pence refused, and has since said Trump’s plan would have been “un-American.”

10:11 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Kushner says McCarthy "was scared" as rioters attacked Capitol on Jan. 6

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

(January 6 Committee Exhibit)
(January 6 Committee Exhibit)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner as the attack on the Capitol was unfolding, in addition to his heated phone call with then-President Trump.

Kushner told the committee in a video deposition that he got the sense McCarthy and those on the Hill “were scared” of the violence that had placed them in danger. 

“He told me it was getting really ugly over at the Capitol and said, please, anything you could do to help I would appreciate it,’” Kushner said of his call with McCarthy. 

“Again, I got the sense that they were, you know, they were scared,” Kushner said, adding that he was referring specifically to McCarthy and those on Capitol Hill. “That he was scared, yes.” 

The committee’s focus on McCarthy during the hearing is notable because the committee has sparred with the Republican leader since its inception – and McCarthy has faced criticism from Trump for withdrawing his Republicans from the panel. The committee has subpoenaed McCarthy and four other Republicans.  

McCarthy’s call with Trump turned into an angry exchange, according to previous reporting. During the call, Trump told McCarthy that the rioters “are more upset about the election than you are,” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington Republican, later recalled in an interview played during Thursday’s hearing.

The committee also played audio of McCarthy speaking with news organizations during the Jan. 6 attack. He said in one that he “conveyed to the President what I think is best to do. And I’m hopeful the President will do it.”

 

10:13 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Oath Keepers leader read Trump’s tweets as she stormed the Capitol, clips show

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

The House select committee played clips from a Jan. 6, 2021, recording of Oath Keepers discussing former President Donald Trump’s tweets on a walkie-talkie app, showing how the tweets inflamed the crowd.

The committee has repeatedly said that Trump’s tweets added fuel to the fire during the riot, and have used their eighth hearing to stress that the former president’s supporters were watching what he said as they stormed the Capitol.

The Oath Keepers chat is yet another example of people cheering on the riot in real time and citing Trump’s tweets as a reason to act.

“Trump just tweeted, ‘Please support our Capitol Police, they are on our side. Do not harm them,’” one voice said on the recording. 
“That’s saying a lot,” another voice responded, laughing. “But what he didn’t say – he didn’t say not to do anything to the Congressmen.” 
Jessica Watkins, an Ohio leader of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy, said on the recording that the Oath Keepers were “rocking it.”

“They’re frickin’ shooting people with paintballs,” Watkins said, “But we’re in here.”

Watkins stands charged, along with eight other leaders of the Oath Keepers, set for trial this fall on seditious conspiracy charges. She has pleaded not guilty.

11:34 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Script for Jan. 6 video shows staff intended for Trump to say "99.9%" of his supporters protested "peacefully"

From CNN's Gabby Orr

President Donald Trump records a message in the White House Rose Garden on January 6, 2021.
President Donald Trump records a message in the White House Rose Garden on January 6, 2021. (January 6 Committee Exhibit)

The House Select Committee during Thursday’s hearing revealed a never-before-seen script for then-President Trump's video message to rioters on January 6, showing that staff intended for Trump to claim that the vast majority if his supporters who had stormed the US Capitol were acting "peacefully." 

In the script, made public for the first time during Thursday's select committee hearing, Trump was supposed to say: "I urge all my supporters to do exactly as 99.9% of them have already been doing – express their passions and opinions peacefully. My supporters have a right to have their voices heard but make no mistake – NO ONE should be using violence or threats of violence to express themselves. Especially at the U.S. Capitol. Let's respect our institutions. Let's do all better. I am asking you to leave the Capitol Hill region NOW and go home in a peaceful way.“

The prepared script – an official White House document – was stamped with “THE PRESIDENT HAS SEEN,” according to the images displayed Thursday by the committee.

However, the video that Trump eventually posted on Twitter deviated significantly from this script. There was no direct condemnation of the violence, but he did say “we don’t want anybody hurt.” He didn’t make the “99.9%” claim in the final video, but he did heap praise on the rioters, saying “we love you” and “you’re very special.” And Trump falsely claimed that he won the 2020 election, even though that was not in the prepared remarks.

Trump filmed the video in the White House Rose Garden as White House attorney Eric Herschmann and Trump’s body man Nick Luna watched. Both testified that the former President did not stick to a script that they had provided him – choosing instead to speak "off the cuff," according to testimony from Luna. 

"Ultimately, these (prepared) remarks... were not the remarks that the President delivered in the Rose Garden," Luna testified, referring to the video Trump eventually sent out telling his supporters, "We love you."

Correction: An earlier version incorrectly said the committee played video of Trump reading his remarks. The committee only displayed the draft of his prepared remarks. 

Trump reviews some of the footage from his message on January 6, 2021.
Trump reviews some of the footage from his message on January 6, 2021. (January 6 Committee Exhibit)

9:58 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Cipollone suggests Trump was only person inside White House who opposed further steps to condemn violent crowd

From CNN's Gabby Orr

A recorded video of former White House counsel Pat Cipollone is displayed on a screen during Thursday's House select committee hearing.
A recorded video of former White House counsel Pat Cipollone is displayed on a screen during Thursday's House select committee hearing. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

In closed-door testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, former White House counsel Pat Cipollone implied then-President Donald Trump was alone in his opposition to taking further action to convince rioters at the US Capitol to disperse and go home. 

Cipollone, who recently appeared before the committee after receiving a subpoena for his testimony, said he and virtually every other senior aide in the White House that day had urged Trump to tell people to go home as his supporters violently stormed the Halls of Congress. 

"When you talk about others on the staff thinking more should be done or thinking that the President needed to tell people to go home, who would you put in that category? Cipollone was asked by Rep. Liz Cheney during his deposition. 

"Well, I would put in that category... in terms of a positive push to get a positive effort to get more done faster, Pat Philbin, Eric Herschmann," Cipollone responded, naming two other White House attorneys. 

"Overall, Mark Meadows, Ivanka. Once Jared got there, Jared, General [Keith] Kellogg," he continued. "I'm probably missing some, but those are – Kayleigh [McEnany] was there."  

Cipollone was then asked who "on the staff" or "in the White House" did not want the rioters to leave the Capitol. 

"I can't think of anybody on that day who didn't want people to get out of the Capitol... particularly once the violence started," Cipollone testified. 

Asked if he would include Trump in that camp, Cipollone, who has been cautious about potential executive privilege violations, said he couldn't reveal communications between himself and Trump "but obviously, I think you know – yeah." 

Jan. 6 select committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger took Cipollone's testimony as indication that Trump, who other witnesses have previously said was resistant to asking his supporters to stand down, was not on board with efforts to try and halt the violence. 

"There really is no ambiguity about what he said," Kinzinger said of Cipollone's testimony. "Almost everybody wanted President Trump to instruct the mob to disperse. President Trump refused." 

Trump's first message to the violent protesters came three hours after they first stormed the Capitol in the form of a short video shared to his Twitter feed in which he told the protesters, "Go home. We love you. You're very special."

Trump tweeted again hours later, saying, "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long." 

10:26 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Trump resisted sending message for peace to rioters, former deputy press secretary says

(Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
(Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Former President Trump resisted advice from advisers and White House staff to send a message of peace to rioters the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection, Sarah Matthews, former White House deputy press secretary, said during her testimony.

Following Trump's tweet attacking then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, Matthews said that she urged then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany that Trump sent out a tweet condemning the violence at the Capitol and that "there needed to be a call to action to tell these people to leave the Capitol."

She said that Kayleigh McEnany agreed and went to the Oval dining room to discuss it with the President, but when the tweet was finally sent out, Matthews said she didn't feel it went far enough.

"When she got back, she told me that a tweet had been sent out. And I told her that I thought the tweet did not go far enough. That I thought there needed to be a call to action, and he needed to condemn the violence," Matthews said.

"And we were in a room full of people, but people weren't paying attention. And so, she looked directly at me and in a hushed tone shared with me that the President did not want to include any sort of mention of peace in that tweet and that it took some convincing on their part, those who were in the room, and she said that there was a back and forth going over different phrases to find something that he was comfortable with. And it wasn't until Ivanka Trump suggested the phrase, 'stay peaceful,' that he finally agreed to include it," she continued.

Watch the moment here:

9:39 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Committee plays first deposition clip of Donald Trump Jr.

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

A still image of Donald Trump Jr. is seen on a screen as audio from his deposition is played during Thursday's hearing.
A still image of Donald Trump Jr. is seen on a screen as audio from his deposition is played during Thursday's hearing. (Alex Brandon/Pool/Reuters)

For the first time, the Jan. 6 select committee played audio of Donald Trump Jr.’s closed-door deposition. While it was known that Trump Jr. met with the committee, this was the first time the audio was played publicly.

During the deposition, the committee asked Trump Jr. about his texts with Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows during the insurrection. As CNN has previously reported, Trump Jr. texted Meadows that his dad has “got to condemn this sh*t ASAP,” and that his tweets in the earlier afternoon weren’t enough.

Meadows told Trump Jr. that he agreed, and Trump Jr. replied, “this one you go to the mattresses on. They will try to f**k his entire legacy on this if it gets worse.”

Asked to explain the “mattresses” reference, Trump Jr. said during his deposition, “It’s just a reference for going all in I think it’s a ‘Godfather’ reference.” The clip shown by the committee was extremely brief.

The panel has already shown footage of Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, as well as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who were both White House advisers for all four years of Trump’s administration. Earlier in Thursday’s hearing, the panel played a clip of Kushner saying he believes that President has an obligation to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.

 

9:31 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

The Jan. 6 committee hearing is back from break

From CNN staff

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol is back after taking a short break. 

The panel's eighth public hearing has focused on how former President Donald Trump did not step in to stop the insurrection as the violence unfolded, with former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger and former deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews testifying about what they saw.

Read takeaways from the hearing so far here.

9:33 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Committee plays Secret Service radio traffic of agents assessing how to evacuate Pence from Senate on Jan. 6

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

The House select committee revealed, for the first time, Secret Service radio traffic as agents assessed the Senate stairwell where former Vice President Mike Pence would be evacuated, while rioters were confronting police in a hallway downstairs at the same time.

The video played Thursday spliced together the surveillance tapes with the footage and sound of Pence's detail, bringing into focus how near a miss Pence and his detail experienced.

Law enforcement on the radio traffic discussed whether they had time to evacuate Pence, or if they were about to lose their route to safety. 

"If we lose any more time, we may lose the ability to leave," one agent said. "If we are going to leave, we need to do it now."

The agents on the radio realized only a half dozen police officers stood between them and the crowd.

A smoke bomb went off where the rioters were confronting police, according to surveillance footage of the hallway full of rioters, then Secret Service discussed the "unknown smoke" and made the call to take Pence to a loading dock in the complex.

Watch here: