A former Trump White House official close to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows told the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol that the West Wing had been warned the day could turn violent, according to a new court filing.
The House has tried to combat Meadows’ refusal to testify in the Capitol Hill investigation. To do that, the House on Friday highlighted statements that hadn’t been previously disclosed from witnesses, such as from Cassidy Hutchinson, the ex-official.
The House’s court filing Friday night comes in a case where Meadows has sued to block congressional subpoenas and the House is arguing for legal backing to gather more details about then-President Donald Trump’s interest in overturning the 2020 presidential election result.
In the filing, the House released new text messages between Meadows and Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry as a plan was taking shape to overhaul Justice Department leadership. The House also cited startling exchanges between Meadows and the President’s son Donald Trump Jr., as well as right-wing hosts Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, to make its points.
The House said the information it has gathered and interviews of witnesses like Hutchinson have allowed it to “identify with greater precision” what it still wants to ask Meadows, according to the filing.
Hutchinson testified that Meadows had been directly warned about the potential for violence on January 6.
“I know that people had brought information forward to him that had indicated that there could be violence on the 6th,” she told the committee. “But, again, I’m not sure if he – what he did with that information internally,” the committee said she had testified.
Hutchinson also testified that she had overheard the White House counsel’s office for Trump say that a plan to use alternate slates of electors to try to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential victory wasn’t legally sound, according to the filing.
Hutchinson also named the campaign officials and lawmakers whom she viewed as advocates of former Vice President Mike Pence not doing his job on January 6 and instead doing “anything other than just counting electoral votes.”
On the campaign side, Hutchinson named Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis, all members of Trump’s legal team who repeatedly laid out a series of false claims and conspiracy theories about alleged voter fraud.
Hutchinson named Republican Reps. Perry, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado. The committee has asked Perry and Jordan to speak with the panel voluntarily and both have declined.
The House had sought out Hutchinson last year when it subpoenaed a group of former officials with close ties to Trump. Hutchinson was a special assistant for legislative affairs and an adviser to Meadows who was in the White House on January 6 and at the pro-Trump rally at the Ellipse. Hutchinson was also privy to Meadows’ efforts to speak to others about investigating fraud after the election.
Also in the Friday night filing, the January 6 committee asked federal Judge Carl Nichols of the DC District Court to make a final decision in the case in the House’s favor, a move that could speed up the court-action timeline and bring to a closure other stalemates between the committee and ex-White House witnesses over executive privilege.
The secrecy surrounding the presidency has been used by some allies of Trump to refrain from testifying.
It’s also been Meadows’ primary defense, which prompted the House to refer him for possible prosecution to the Justice Department. He has not been charged. A resolution in the lawsuit on whether Meadows is protected by privilege would untangle some issues that could arise if the Justice Department were to charge him with contempt of Congress.
Meadows has already turned over extensive documents to the House, including more than 2,300 text messages from his private phone, the committee said on Friday.
Previously, the courts fast-tracked a case over the House select committee’s access to Trump-era White House information. Trump lost, with the Supreme Court determining the committee’s needs outweighed executive privilege claims the former President might make over documents held by the National Archives.
But there’s no final answer yet on whether administration officials who were close to the former President can be shielded from questioning.
The House argued on Friday that no matter Meadows’ position in the West Wing, he should be exempt from special executive branch protections.
“He was not acting as anything like a typical White House Chief of Staff advising the President on official matters of government policy,” the House lawyers wrote. “Mr. Meadows was playing a campaign role, attempting to facilitate a strategy that would have reversed the certified results of the 2020 election.”