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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10:40 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Trump's Labor Secretary formally requested a Cabinet meeting on the heels of the Capitol attack

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

 

Then-Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia wrote a memo to President Trump after the Capitol riot asking if the Cabinet could convene — a more formal entreaty than was previously known to have existed, and a hint at how Trump's appointees attempted to confront him after the violence. 

On the morning of Jan.7, 2021, "The most constructive thing I could think of was to seek a meeting of the Cabinet," Scalia said in a taped interview the House select committee played. "I thought that trying to work within the administration to steady the ship was likely to have greater value than resigning, after which point I would have been powerless to really affect things within the administration."

His memo to Trump was titled "Request for Cabinet Meeting," the committee showed. 

The documents said: "I believe it is important to know that while President, you will no longer publicly question the election results — after Wednesday, no one can deny this is harmful."

"A Cabinet meeting is also an opportunity for us to discuss how the Cabinet and senior White House advisers, acting within our respective roles, can assist as you make the remaining important decisions of your Administration," Scalia's memo also said. 

Scalia also put in writing that he believed "private citizens" had "served [Trump] poorly with their advice," according to the document.

Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone also told the committee about the Cabinet meeting discussion, and Mark Milley, the then-joint chiefs of staff chairman, spoke in his own interview about Cabinet members' concern with Trump's well-being. 

Scalia did not appear to raise the possibility the Cabinet could consider removing Trump from the presidency using the 25th Amendment, though that had been raised by members of Congress at the time. 

Still, a formal Cabinet meeting and the Cabinet making demands of Trump were serious steps within the executive branch.

10:14 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Jan. 6 "was one of the darkest days in our nation's history," former deputy press secretary says

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

Sarah Matthews, a former Trump deputy press secretary, called Jan. 6, 2021, "one of the darkest days in our nation's history" during her testimony at the House select committees eighth public hearing this summer.

Matthews said because of Trump's response to the insurrection earlier in the day, she had already decided to resign, but a tweet by then-President Trump at 6:01 p.m. ET further cemented that decision.

Trump said in the tweet: "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever."

"I thought that Jan. 6, 2021, was one of the darkest days in our nation's history and President Trump was treating it as a celebratory occasion with that tweet and so it just further cemented my decision to resign," Matthews testified.
10:12 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Members of White House staff denounced Trump's last tweet on Jan. 6

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

During Thursday’s hearing, the House select committee played several taped interviews with White House staffers denouncing then-President Donald Trump’s last tweet on Jan. 6, 2021, when he told rioters he loved them and that they should remember the day forever.  

"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,” Trump tweeted at 6:01 p.m. on Jan. 6. “Go home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever!"

Former deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews, who resigned that day, told the committee that the tweet further cemented her decision to leave the White House. “I thought that Jan. 6, 2021 was one of the darkest days in our nation's history, and President Trump was treating it as a celebratory occasion with that tweet,” Matthews said.

Nicholas Luna, a former White House aide who worked closely with President Trump, told the committee in a recorded interview played during Thursday’s hearing that he told Trump the tweet “would lead some to believe that potentially he had something to do with the events that happened at the Capitol.” 

“I don’t think it’s a patriotic act to attack the Capitol,” Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for the Trump 2020 presidential campaign, told the committee in video played at the hearing. “(T)hey trespassed, destroyed property and assaulted the US Capitol.”

Trump’s White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the committee the Capitol attack “cannot be justified in any form or fashion” and Greg Jacob, former Vice President Mike Pence's chief counsel, said Trump’s tweet “was inappropriate.” 

“To my mind, it was a day that should be remembered in infamy. That wasn’t the tenor of this tweet,” Jacob said. 
10:55 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Trump's refusal to act and condemn the violence is "indefensible," former deputy press secretary says

(Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
(Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Sarah Matthews, former White House deputy press secretary, said that former President Trump's refusal to condemn the violence and act on Jan. 6, 2021 is "indefensible."

Matthews said that while she was relieved when Trump finally sent out a video to his Twitter followers that urged rioters to "go home," the overall messaging left her disturbed.

"I was struck by the fact that he chose to begin the video by pushing the lie that there was a stolen election. And as the video went on, I felt a small sense of relief because he finally told these people to go home, but that was immediately followed up by him saying, 'We love you. You're very special.' And that was disturbing to me because he didn't distinguish between those that peacefully attended his speech earlier that day and those that we watched cause violence at the Capitol," Matthews said.

Matthews said that following the release of the video, she decided she had to resign because she could not defend the President's message.

"Instead, he told the people who we had just watched storm our nation's Capitol with the intent on overthrowing our democracy violently attack police officers and chant heinous things like 'Hang Mike Pence' — 'We love you, you're very special.' And as a spokesperson for him, I knew that I would be asked to defend that. And to me, his refusal to act and call off the mob that day and his refusal to condemn the violence was indefensible. I knew that I would be resigning that evening, and so I finished out the work day, went home and called my loved ones to tell them of my decision, and resigned that evening," she said
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."