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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9:25 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Pottinger: Trump's tweet calling Mike Pence a coward was "fuel being poured on the fire"

Matt Pottinger testifies during Thursday's hearing.
Matt Pottinger testifies during Thursday's hearing. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Matt Pottinger, former National Security adviser, said that former President Trump's tweet calling then-Vice President Mike Pence a "coward" essentially was "fuel being poured on the fire" the day of the insurrection.

"Shortly before I had gotten back to the White House, I had come from off site. I began to see, for the first time, those images on TV about the chaos that was unfolding at the Capitol. One of my aides handed me a sheet of paper that contained the tweet that you just read.  And I read it and was quite disturbed by it," Pottinger said.

He continued, "I was disturbed and worried to see that the President was attacking Vice President Pence for doing his constitutional duty. So, the tweet looked to me like the opposite of what we really needed at that moment, which was a deescalation. And that's why I—I, it said earlier that it looked like fuel being poured on the fire."

Pottinger said that the tweet led to him resigning from his post that day, stating, "that was the moment that I decided that I was going to resign, that that would be my last day at the White House. I simply didn't want to be associated with the events that were unfolding on the Capitol."

9:22 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Matthews says Trump's tweet attacking Pence was a "green light" to rioters

From CNN's Clare Foran and Elise Hammond

Sarah Matthews, former deputy White House press secretary, testifies Thursday.
Sarah Matthews, former deputy White House press secretary, testifies Thursday.  (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Former deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews said that a tweet from former President Trump attacking his then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 was effectively a "green light" to rioters storming the Capitol.

The committee asked Matthews for her reaction to a tweet Trump sent that day in which he accused Pence of not having courage. This came as Trump had tried to enlist Pence in his pressure campaign to try to overturn the election results — which Pence resisted.

"I remember thinking that this was going to be bad for him to tweet this because it was essentially him giving the green light to these people — telling them that what they were doing at the steps of the Capitol and entering the Capitol was okay, that they were justified in their anger," Matthews said. "He should have been telling these people to go home and to leave and to condemn the violence that we were seeing."

She went on to say, "I've seen the impact that his words have on his supporters. They truly latch on to every word and every tweet that he says."

Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria said of the tweet, "Despite knowing the Capitol had been breached and the mob was in the building, President Trump called Mike Pence a coward and placed all the blame on him for not stopping the certification. He put a target on his own vice president's back."

9:29 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Committee focuses on Trump’s calls to Rudy Giuliani after Trump was told Capitol attack was unfolding

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

The House Jan. 6 committee illustrated during Thursday’s hearing how former President Trump made repeated calls to his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, even as he was aware that the attack on the Capitol was unfolding.

While the White House call logs have a seven-hour gap on Jan. 6, Rep. Elaine Luria said that Trump spoke with Giuliani by phone at 1:39 p.m. ET and 2:03 p.m. ET, citing Giuliani’s call logs obtained by the committees.

Trump also sought to contact a list of senators, according to testimony from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany aired during Thursday’s hearing.

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

“He wanted a list of the senators, and I left him at that point,” McEnany said in her video deposition, adding that she didn’t know which senators he called.

The committee contrasted Trump’s calls to his personal attorney with what White House officials were learning. The committee showed chat messages from National Security Council staff being told that the Capitol was breached, that the vice president was “being pulled” and that the Secret Service “at the Capitol did not ‘sound good right now.’”

9:04 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Trump could've made Jan. 6 statement to Americans on camera "almost instantly" if he wanted to, Matthews says 

Sarah Matthews testifies on Thursday.
Sarah Matthews testifies on Thursday. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Sarah Matthews, former White House deputy press secretary, said that Trump had the ability to make a statement from the White House press briefing room "almost instantly" if he wanted to the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

"It would take probably less than 60 seconds from the Oval Office dining room over to the press briefing room," Matthews testified.

She continued, "For folks that might not know, the press briefing room is the room you see the White House press secretary do briefings from with the podium and blue back drop. There is a camera that is on in there at all times. So, if the President had wanted to make a statement and address the American people, he could have been on camera almost instantly."

Matthews added, "And conversely, the White House press corps, has offices that are located directly behind the briefing room. And so, if he had wanted to make an address from the Oval Office, we could have assembled the White house press corps., probably in a matter of minutes, to get them into the Oval for him to do an on-camera address."

9:13 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Cipollone describes how he and others pushed for stronger condemnation of riot

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

Recorded comments from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone are played on a screen during Thursday's hearing.
Recorded comments from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone are played on a screen during Thursday's hearing. (Al Drago/Pool/Reuters)

Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone told the House select committee that on Jan. 6 he was joined by a number of top Trump advisers in pushing the former President to issue a strong condemnation of the attack. The group included Ivanka Trump and Mark Meadows, he said.  

“I think I was pretty clear there needed to be an immediate and forceful response, statement, that people need to leave the Capitol now,” he said. 

A committee investigator then asked him: "So your advice was tell people to leave the Capitol, and that took over two hours when there were subsequent statements made, tweets put forth, that in your view were insufficient. Did you continue ... up until 4:17 continue, you and others, to push for a stronger statement?" 

"Yes," Cipollone responded. 

"Were you joined in that effort by Ivanka Trump?" 

"Yes," Cipollone said again—before the investigator could even finish the question. 

He confirmed with a series of sharp “yeses” that White House adviser Eric Herschmann, another White House counsel's office attorney Pat Philbin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows were echoing him as well. 

Cipollone declined to describe his direct conversations with Trump. Then he described “generically” saying people should be told to leave the Capitol, and fast. 

But Cipollone said he spoke to Meadows, "expressing my opinion very forcefully, that this needs to be done," he said, according to the video. 

Watch moment here:

8:55 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Sarah Matthews is testifying. Here's what to know about the former Trump White House aide.

From CNN's Evan Perez and Zachary Cohen

Sarah Matthews appears before the House select committee on Thursday.
Sarah Matthews appears before the House select committee on Thursday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Former Trump White House aide Sarah Matthews is now testifying. She previously served as deputy White House press secretary until resigning shortly after Jan. 6, 2021.

When she resigned, CNN previously reported Matthews said she was honored to serve in Trump's administration but "was deeply disturbed by what I saw." She said at the time, "Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power."

After another former Trump White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, publicly testified before the committee last week, Matthews tweeted, "Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson's role or her access in the West Wing either doesn't understand how the Trump (White House) worked or is attempting to discredit her because they're scared of how damning this testimony is."

Thursday's hearing will mark the panel's second prime-time session, and committee members have said it will examine Trump's inaction for 187 minutes while the US Capitol riot was unfolding.

8:53 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Trump made no calls to law enforcement or military leaders during Jan. 6 riot, committee says

From CNN's Zachary Cohen and Clare Foran

Several witnesses with first-hand knowledge of what was happening inside the White House on Jan. 6 told the House Select Committee that former President Donald Trump did not place a single call to any of his law enforcement or national security officials as the US Capitol attack was unfolding, according to previously unseen video testimony played during Thursday’s hearing. 

Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria from Virginia, a member of the panel, stated: "We have confirmed in numerous interviews with senior law enforcement and military leaders, Vice President Pence's staff and DC government officials — none of them, not one, heard from President Trump that day. He did not call to issue orders. He did not call to offer assistance."

Former officials who were with Trump as he watched the riot unfold on television, including then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s body man Nick Luna, told the committee they had no knowledge of the former President making a single call to the heads of various agencies who could have responded to the violence, including the Secretary of Defense or Attorney General. 

Keith Kellogg, Pence’s national security adviser who was also with Trump that day, testified that he never heard the former President ask for the National Guard or a law enforcement response. 

Kellogg also reaffirmed that he would have been aware if Trump had made such an ask. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley told the House Select Committee that he was astonished by the fact that he never heard from Trump as the Capitol attack was unfolding – suggesting his failure to act amounted to an abdication of his duties as commander in chief, according to previously unseen video from his close-door deposition.

“You know, you’re the Commander in Chief. You’ve got an assault going on on the Capitol of the United States of America and there’s nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?” he said in the clip.

9:05 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

The committee is playing clips from Pat Cipollone's deposition. Here's what to know about him.

From CNN's Sam Woodward and Pamela Brown

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

Former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone testified before the committee in a closed-door interview under a subpoena at the beginning of July.

Clips of the eight-hour testimony were played at the House select committee's prime-time hearing on Thursday. Some video from the testimony was already shown at the committee's seventh hearing last week that focused on how the violent mob came together and the role of extremist groups.

Here are some of the key things he has said in the pieces of the deposition played at the previous hearing:

  • He did not think there was sufficient evidence of election fraud: In his testimony, Cipollone said he agreed with former Attorney General Bill Barr, who concluded there was insufficient evidence of election fraud. He recounted former chief of staff Mark Meadows saying in Nov. 2020 that then-President Trump should have conceded, to which he said he agreed.
  • He was verbally attacked during the Dec. 18, 2020 meeting at the White House. Cipollone told the committee he walked into the Dec.18 meeting attended by Trump, former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne. The meeting, which lasted six hours, was described as “unhinged” by former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson after hearing screaming coming from the West Wing. Ideas circulated about overturning the election including Flynn's suggestion to invoke martial law and inspection of voting machines. “I don’t think any of these people were providing the President with good advice,” Cipollone told the committee.
  • He thought it was a “terrible idea” for the President to follow a plan to seize election machines: proposal for the federal government to seize election machines was "a terrible idea," Cipollone told the committee. "That's not how we do things in the United States. There's no legal authority to do that," Cipollone said.
8:49 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Trump knew the Capitol was under attack 15 minutes after finishing his Jan. 6 speech, committee says

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

After the Secret Service refused to take then-President Donald Trump to the Capitol with his supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, he went back to the White House, Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria said. The committee's eighth hearing this summer is focusing on what Trump was doing for more than three hours after finishing his speech at the Ellipse.

The committee showed a photo of Trump inside the Oval Office with his coat on, after returning from the rally. A White House employee told Trump "as soon as he returned to the Oval" about the riot at the Capitol, Luria said.

"Within 15 minutes of leaving the stage, President Trump knew that the Capitol was besieged and under attack," she said.

At 1:25 p.m. ET Trump went to the private dining room off the Oval Office, Luria said, adding he stayed there until 4 p.m. ET.

She said witnesses told the committee that then-President sat at his "usual spot" at the head of the table facing the television on the wall.

"We know from the employee that the TV was turned to Fox News all afternoon," she said. Luria said other witnesses also confirmed that Trump was in the dining room with the TV on for more than two and a half hours.