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Trump phoned a Jan 6 committee witness, Liz Cheney reveals

Rep. Liz Cheney on Tuesday accused former President Trump of witness tampering by revealing that he had tried to contact a witness who was set to testify before the committee. 

‘After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation. A witness you have not yet seen in these hearings,’ Cheney said during Tuesday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing, without revealing a name. ‘That person declined to answer or respond to President Trump’s call, and instead alerted their lawyer to the call. Their lawyer alerted us. And this committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice. ‘

‘Let me say one more time we will take any efforts to influence witness testimony very seriously,’ the Wyoming Republican and ranking member on the Jan. 6 committee said. 

Cheney also claimed it was ‘nonsense’ to argue that former President Trump was misled into believing the election had been stolen from him as the Jan. 6 committee played testimony from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone claiming he told Trump to concede after Dec. 14. 

The congresswoman said the committee had seen a ‘change’ in how Trump-allied witnesses and lawyers had approached the committee’s investigation

‘Today, there appears to be a general recognition that the committee has established key facts including that virtually everyone close to President Trump – his Justice Department officials, his White House advisors, his White House Counsel, his campaign – all told him the 2020 election was not stolen,’ Cheney said. 

She said this had forced Trump’s attorneys to ‘change the strategy’ for defending him. ‘Now the argument seems to be that President Trump was manipulated by others outside the administration that he was persuaded to ignore his closest advisors and that he was incapable of telling right from wrong.’ 

Rep. Liz Cheney said that former White House Pat Cipollone’s testimony ‘met expectations’ while she claimed it was ‘nonsense’ to argue that former President Trump was misled into believing the election had been stolen from him

‘This new strategy is to try to blame only John Eastman or Sidney Powell or Congressman Scott Perry or others and not President Trump. … This, of course, is nonsense. President Trump is a 76 year old man. He is not an impressionable child.’ 

Cheney also said that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s testimony ‘met our expectations.’ She said the focus of Tuesday’s hearing would be on election fraud claims in the weeks between the November election and Jan. 6. 

Excerpts from Cipollone’s deposition, which was videotaped, were shown at Tuesday’s hearing. 

The committee played a clip where Cipollone told them that by mid-December he had urged the former president to give up his election fraud claims after court after court ruled against him. 

‘Did I believe he should concede the election at a point in time? Yes I did.’

The former White House counsel said that former Vice President Mike Pence deserved a Medal of Freedom for resisting Trump’s orders and certifying the election in favor of Joe Biden on Jan. 6.

‘I think the Vice President did the right thing. I think he did the courageous thing. I have a great deal of respect for him.’ 

Multiple accounts suggest Cipollone and his team threatened the ex-president with resignations in the face of his election fraud claims.

He reportedly made his skepticism of Trump and his allies’ plot abundantly clear to the committee.

Cipollone said that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has refused to testify before the committee, told him there was no widespread evidence of fraud and Trump should concede. 

Cipollone was asked if Meadows assured him Trump would make a graceful exit. 

‘I would say that is a statement and a sentiment that I heard from Mark Meadows…It wasn’t a one-time statement.’

Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter, and Kayleigh McEnany, his press secretary, both said they believed the fight was over after legal battles concluded unsuccessfully in mid-December, as the committee tried to drive home the point that trusted members of Trump’s inner circle were not on his side with election fraud, and he chose to ignore them. 

‘In my view upon the conclusion of litigation I began to plan for life after the administration,’ McEnany said.

In response to the Justice Department’s finding there was no fraud, Ivanka said: ‘I think it was my sentiment, probably prior as well.’

Cipollone said he ‘supported that conclusion’ made by Attorney General Bill Barr that there was no widespread fraud. 

Excerpts from Cipollone's deposition, which was videotaped, were shown at Tuesday's hearing

Excerpts from Cipollone’s deposition, which was videotaped, were shown at Tuesday’s hearing

Cipollone said that he got a call on Dec. 18 that a number of outside advisers had made their way to the president’s office to discuss election fraud. 

The meeting included Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, Sidney Powell, Michael Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com, a close ally of the ex-president’s who previously dated a Russian spy.  

‘I saw Gen. Flynn. I saw Sidney Powell sitting there. I was not happy to see the people in the Oval Office….. First of all, the Overstock person, I didn’t even know who this guy was … I looked at him and said, ‘who are you?”

Powell said she had no idea if they could get a private audience with the president, but a lower level staffer led them to his office. Then, Cipollone came running. 

‘I bet Pat Cipollone set a new land speed record,’ Powell said in a clip played from her testimony.’ 

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said the committee had spoken to six participants in that Dec. 18 election fraud meeting. 

‘What ensued was a heated and profane’ argument, Raskin said, that included ‘challenges to physically fight.’ 

In a clip of Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani’s testimony, he says he told the White House lawyers they weren’t ‘tough enough’ and that they were a ‘bunch of p***ies’ for claiming there was not enough evidence of election fraud. 

Raskin said that after the unhinged meeting, Trump sent out a tweet calling on his supporters to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6: ‘It will be wild,’ Trump wrote. 

Stephen Ayres, left, one of the January 6 committee's two Tuesday witnesses who rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, said that he did not plan on going to the US Capitol when he attended Donald Trump's 'Stop The Steal' rally on the White House ellipse

Stephen Ayres, left, one of the January 6 committee’s two Tuesday witnesses who rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, said that he did not plan on going to the US Capitol when he attended Donald Trump’s ‘Stop The Steal’ rally on the White House ellipse

Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty last in June 2022 to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, shakes hands with Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges

Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty last in June 2022 to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, shakes hands with Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges

Cipollone tore into Trump attorney Sidney Powell’s idea for Trump to sign an executive order to seize voting machines the Trump team believed were linked to fraud. 

‘At some point you have to put up or shut up, that was my view. To have the federal government seize voting machines? That’s a terrible idea for the country. That’s not how we do things in the US. There’s no legal authority to do that,’ Cipollone said. 

Former Attorney General Bill Barr said that when Trump brought him a draft executive order to seize voting machines across the nation, he shot it down immediately. 

‘Some people say we can get to the bottom of this if the department sees the machines -i t was his typical way of raising the point,’ Barr said in his videotaped deposition.

‘I said absolutely not. There is no probable cause, we are not going to seize any machines.’

Cipollone added: ‘I don’t understand why we even have to tell you that’s a bad idea. It’s a bad idea.’

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy then displayed text messages obtained from former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson where she raised red flags to Meadows about how the Jan. 6 ‘Save America’ rally could get out of hand. 

She said that Trump loved the ‘crazies’ which was why some of them were speaking at his rally. 

‘He loved people who viciously defended him in public,’ Pierson said in recorded testimony about her texts, expressing particular concern about right-wing commentators Alex Jones and Ali Alexander. 

After a break, Stephen Ayres, one of the January 6 committee’s two Tuesday witnesses who rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, said that he did not plan on going to the US Capitol when he attended Donald Trump’s ‘Stop The Steal’ rally on the White House ellipse.

Asked why he changed his mind, Ayres said: ‘The president got everybody riled up… we were just following what he said.’

He said it was Trump’s urging on social media that made him want to come to Washington, DC that day.

Ayres said that he did not decide to leave until Trump tweeted asking rioters to go home in the late afternoon. Other witnesses have said they urged Trump to publicly call off the rioters much earlier. 

‘Basically, when President Trump put his tweet out, we literally left right after that come out,’ Ayres said. ‘You know, to me, if he would have done that earlier in a day 1:30 I, you know, we wouldn’t be in this, maybe we wouldn’t be in this bad situation or so.’

Ayres, who no longer believes the election was stolen from Trump, said it ‘makes me mad’ that Trump is still promoting since-debunked election fraud claims. 

‘I was hanging on every word. He was saying everything he was putting out I was following it. I mean, if I was doing it, hundreds of thousands or millions of other people were doing it or maybe even still doing it.’

Ayres said he felt like he had ‘horse blinders on.’ ‘I was locked in the whole time, he said. Ayres pled guilty to charges for joining the riot that day but has not yet been sentenced. 

At the conclusion of the hearing, Rep. Jamie Raskin gave a chilling summary. 

‘The Watergate break-in was like a Cub Scout meeting compared to this assault on our people and institutions,’ Raskin said. He promised next week’s hearing ‘will be a moment of reckoning’ 

It’s the panel’s seventh hearing, and the only one expected this week after former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson claimed last week that Trump directed his supporters toward the Capitol while knowing they were armed, and got into a physical altercation with his security detail when Secret Service agents stopped him from joining the mob. 

Meanwhile, Raskin told NBC News that Cipollone corroborated ‘almost everything’ that came up in the panel’s last six hearings, including Hutchinson’s explosive account.

‘He had the opportunity to say whatever he wanted to say, so I didn’t see any contradiction there,’ the Maryland Democrat said.

He and fellow Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy will lead Tuesday’s hearing.  

Meanwhile, the January 6 committee will meet with former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne behind closed doors at the end of this week, it was reported Tuesday.

Byrne is a close ally of Donald Trump‘s and was present at a White House meeting on December 18 in which the then-president and a group of formal and informal advisers discussed ways to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, CNN reports.

He was forced to step down from his position as chief executive of the online furniture store in 2019 after disclosing that he was romantically involved with a woman who was convicted of being a Russian spy, Maria Butina. 

The December 18 meeting will be a focus of Tuesday afternoon’s hearing for the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

There are reportedly no parameters set for Byrne’s Friday meeting with lawmakers.

DailyMail.com has reached out to the January 6 committee for confirmation. 

The committee’s normal process involves a closed-door deposition as its first step before any possible consideration of a public hearing. 

Tuesday’s report does not make clear whether it’s Byrne’s first time before the panel, or if he will be bound under oath.

 

Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock, will meet with the January 6 committee behind closed doors, CNN reported

Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock, will meet with the January 6 committee behind closed doors, CNN reported

He's a close ally of former President Donald Trump and reportedly helped push his 2020 election fraud lies

He’s a close ally of former President Donald Trump and reportedly helped push his 2020 election fraud lies

The former chief executive has been accused of actively pushing Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was ‘rigged’ in favor of President Joe Biden.

Byrne stepped down from his position at Overstock after disclosing his romance with convicted Russian spy Maria Butina

Byrne stepped down from his position at Overstock after disclosing his romance with convicted Russian spy Maria Butina

Alongside Byrne, the Oval Office meeting was attended by former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as his disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The meeting was described to CNN as ‘forceful,’ having erupted into ‘fighting’ and shouting matches as White House officials clashed with the ex-president’s conspiracy theorist allies.

Ideas floated at the meeting included seizing voting machines for government inspection and installing Powell as a special counsel to investigate election fraud, committee aides have said.

Byrne’s attendance at the meeting was not disclosed until Tuesday. 

Byrne was also reportedly present at a December 18 White House meeting during which January 6 committee aides say the idea of appointing Sidney Powell as special counsel for election fraud was floated

Byrne was also reportedly present at a December 18 White House meeting during which January 6 committee aides say the idea of appointing Sidney Powell as special counsel for election fraud was floated

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