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Friday, January 27, 2023

The Jan. 6 Committee Thinks Some Trump Allies Lied to Them—and Mark Meadows Provided the Roadmap

The House Jan. 6 Committee suspects many former aides to Donald Trump falsely claimed not to recall facts while testifying under oath, and that a memoir by former White House chief of Staff Mark Meadows may have played a role in their answers.

That was among the details in the 154-page document the committee released on Monday, which it said was an executive summary to the final report that will be made public later this week.

The committee is winding down its 18-month investigation, which involved over 1,000 interviews, including key members of Trump’s inner circle.

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Meadows published The Chief’s Chief in December 2021, at a time when the committee was still interviewing witnesses. By then, Meadows had handed over to the committee thousands of text messages and other documents, but refused other requests for information. The committee was concerned the book’s publication would taint their work, and witnesses would parrot Meadows’s descriptions of events “as if they were the party line.” A few did, the committee found.
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The committee said in the report released Monday that Meadows’ book contains “a number of intentional falsehoods,” and pointed to his description of Trump late in the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, immediately after he told supporters at a rally near the White House, that he would be marching with them to the Capitol as Congress was preparing to certify the results of the 2020 election.

Multiple witnesses have described in detail to the committee how Trump repeatedly demanded to be taken to the Capitol grounds after his speech and was irate that the Secret Service and others refused to help him do this.

But that’s not how Meadows described that episode in his book, which features a photo of Meadows in a red-striped tie standing behind Trump on the cover. Meadows wrote in his book that when Trump got off stage, he “let me know that he had been speaking metaphorically about going to the Capitol.” Later in the book, Meadows writes, it “was clear the whole time” that Trump did not have an intention to go to the Capitol.

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The committee found that Meadows description of Trump after his Jan. 6 speech “appeared to be an intentional effort to conceal the facts.”

Other Trump aides like Cassidy Hutchinson, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, as well as multiple Secret Service agents, and a member of the Metropolitan Police, described Trump demanding his motorcade take him to the Capitol building that day. “I recall him wanting to, saying that he wanted to physically walk and be a part of the march and saying he would ride the Beast if he needed to ride in the presidential limo,” McEnany told the committee in recorded testimony.

The committee expressed broader suspicions in the report that some witnesses that were reliant on organizations connected to Trump for their income may have been influenced to not answer certain questions or to coordinate their responses.

“The Select Committee also has concerns regarding certain other witnesses, including those who still rely for their income or employment by organizations linked to President Trump, such as the America First Policy Institute,” the report states. “Certain witnesses and lawyers were unnecessarily combative, answered hundreds of questions with variants of ‘I do not recall’ in circumstances where that answer seemed unbelievable, appeared to testify from lawyer-written talking points rather than their own recollections, provided highly questionable rationalizations or otherwise resisted telling the truth.”

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Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Jan. 6 committee, told reporters after the committee’s final meeting on Monday that the stonewalling hindered the committee’s investigation.

“We were stymied by a lot of people refusing to come and testify, refusing to give us information they had, or taking the Fifth Amendment,” Raskin told reporters after the committee’s final meeting on Monday.

The committee concluded their final hearing on Monday by approving criminal referrals to the Justice Department against Trump on charges of obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the government, making false statements, and assisting an insurrection. The committee also concluded that Meadows and others may have conspired with Trump to defraud the United States by creating slates of fake electors to overturn the 2020 results.

By referring Trump and others to the Department of Justice to consider bringing charges, the committee is banking that federal investigators will use its more powerful legal tools to uncover the actions that led up to the violent assault of the Capitol on Jan. 6 and punish those responsible.

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