At the end of Tuesday's explosive House Jan. 6 committee testimony by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchison, committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) raised the specter of witness tampering by former President Donald Trump or his allies. Cheney showed excerpts from unidentified witnesses recounting phone calls they received before sitting down for interviews with the committee.
"[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow," one of the callers allegedly told one of the witnesses. "He wants me to let you know that he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition." The call urged the witness to "be a team player," noting "Trump does read transcripts."
Cassidy was the witness who received and recounted both of those calls, Politico and The Washington Post reported Thursday. Since Cheney "did not explain who sent the messages," the Post adds, it's "difficult to assess whether they were people especially close to Trump or fringe players unlikely to be acting on his orders."
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But the "person" whose name is redacted in the first quote is Mark Meadows, Trump's final chief of staff and Hutchinson's boss at the White House, Politico reports. The unidentified intermediary for Meadows reportedly called Hutchinson before her March 7 deposition.
Ben Williamson, a spokesman for Meadows, told Politico that "no one from Meadows' camp, himself or otherwise, has ever attempted to intimidate or shape Ms. Hutchinson's testimony to the committee. Any phone call or message she is describing is at best deeply misleading."
"Trump and his advisers have been accused before of trying to influence witnesses in past investigations involving him," The New York Times reports. "Evidence across multiple state, federal, and congressional investigations points to a similar pattern," the Post adds: "Trump and his close allies privately shower potential witnesses with flattery and attention, extending vague assurances that staying loyal to Trump would be better than crossing him. Meanwhile, Trump publicly blasts those who offer testimony against him in bluntly personal terms."
Meadows has refused to testify before the Jan. 6 committee. A month after the committee was formed, Trump's Save America PAC donated $1 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute, where Meadows is a senior partner. "While Trump advisers insisted there was no quid pro quo involved with the donation, Trump has been inclined to keep Meadows in the fold, even when he is annoyed with him at times," the Post reports.
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