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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9:58 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:

10:20 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Pence's security detail had such a near miss with rioters that they feared for their lives, witness says

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

Vice President Mike Pence is seen on January 6, 2021.
Vice President Mike Pence is seen on January 6, 2021. (January 6 Committee Exhibit)

Former Vice President Mike Pence's security detail was so concerned for safety inside the Capitol as rioters broke into the building, that they "were starting to fear for their own lives," one committee witness said.

The moments were so tense, "there were calls to say goodbye to family members," an unidentified national security professional told the committee in a recorded interview played on Thursday.

He said it appeared that the agents were realizing they were running out of options and may have considered using lethal force.

"Is the VP compromised? Like, I don't know. We didn't have visibility, but if they're screaming and saying things, like, say goodbye to family....this is going to a whole other level soon," the national security official said. The committee shielded the identity of the official and obscured his voice.
9:58 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

The committee is laying out how Trump did not stop the violence. Here are the key lines so far.

From CNN staff

Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews are sworn in during a hearing by the House select committee on Thursday evening.
Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews are sworn in during a hearing by the House select committee on Thursday evening. (Saul Loeb/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is presenting evidence in its eighth public hearing on Thursday night to show what Trump was doing while the Capitol was under attack. 

The committee’s goal is to show what was going on in the White House during the riot and to demonstrate that Trump did not take action as the violence unfolded. Some committee members have described this as Trump’s “dereliction of duty.”

The committee is hearing testimony from Matthew Pottinger, a former Trump deputy national security adviser, and Sarah Matthews, a former Trump deputy press secretary. Both Pottinger and Matthews resigned after the insurrection.

The panel is also playing taped footage from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s deposition earlier this month.

Here are some of the key points from the hearing so far:

  • "187 minutes": This is what the committee has dubbed the three-plus hours when Trump did not step in to stop the riot on Jan. 6. The panel walked through that time frame during the hearing minute-by-minute. The 187 minutes started at 1:10 p.m. ET when Trump finished his speech at the Ellipse and told his supporters to go to the Capitol.
  • When the Ellipse speech ended: Rep. Elaine Luria said that Trump was taken back to the White House after his speech. She said “within 15 minutes of leaving the stage,” a White House aide told Trump the Capitol was under attack. She said witnesses told the committee that then-President went to a dining room off the Oval Office where he watched Fox News for two and a half hours.
  • Trump's access to press: Matthews testified that it would have taken “probably less than 60 seconds” for Trump to walk to the press briefing room to make a statement and end the violence. Other witnesses told the committee they advised against Trump giving a live statement because they were worried about what he would say in “unscripted comments,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger said.
  • Calls for action: The former White House counsel told the committee that 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 former chief of staff Mark Meadows, Cipollone said in a clip of his closed-door testimony earlier this month. Previously, Cipollone said several people told Trump there was no substantial evidence that the election was stolen from him.
  • More hearings to come: Committee members say the panel is receiving an overwhelming amount of evidence and they struggled to fit everything within the time constraints of Thursday’s prime-time hearing and were forced to cut some things. Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said in taped remarks at the beginning of the hearing, after testing positive for Covid-19, that the hearings will reconvene in September.
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."