“Former President Donald Trump tried to call a member of the White House support staff who was talking to the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021,” CNN reports.
“The support staffer was not someone who routinely communicated with the former President and was concerned about the contact and informed their attorney.”
“The call was made after former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified publicly to the committee. The White House staffer was in a position to corroborate part of what Hutchinson had said under oath.”
This is the person Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was referring to when she dropped a pretty big bombshell at the end of Tuesday’s January 6 Committee hearing:
“After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation, a witness you have not seen in these hearings. 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 effort to influence witness testimony very seriously.”
Cheney also presented evidence at the last hearing that some Trump allies were trying to tamper with witnesses.
It’s not clear if the committee will tell us more about Trump’s attempted phone call, but just moments before Cheney’s statement, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said the committee’s next hearing — tentatively scheduled for next Thursday night — “will be a profound moment of reckoning for America.”
The January 6 Committee has made some interesting editorial choices in the video testimony they feature. One video segment at yesterday’s hearing featured Ivanka Trump denying that she said she wanted to attend the Ellipse rally speech with her father to try to “calm him down” which was juxtaposed with her former chief-of-staff affirming exactly that.
It seemed to be included just so Donald Trump would hear it.
And then there was this testimony from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone: “Can I say a word about Vice President Pence? I think the vice president did the right thing, I think he did the courageous thing… I think he did a great service to this country. I suggested to someone he should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his actions.”
We know Trump wanted to say at his rally speech on January 6 that Pence could “enter history as a truly great and courageous leader” if he illegally overturned the 2020 election. Instead, Cipollone said Pence was courageous for refusing to do just that. Maggie Haberman predicted the Cipollone testimony would “enrage Trump and most of the very small group of people in his ear now.”
It’s hard to argue that Pence doing what the law required was actually courageous, but it would be pretty amusing if Joe Biden actually considered awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) explained a difference she’s noticed in how Trump-linked lawyers are dealing with the January 6 Committee in recent weeks.
Said Cheney: “Initially, their strategy in some cases appeared to be to deny and delay. 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 advisers, his White House counsel, his campaign – all told him the 2020 election was not stolen… Now the argument seems to be that President Trump was manipulated by others outside the administration. That he was persuaded to ignore his closest advisers, and that he was incapable of telling right from wrong…”
But Cheney isn’t buying it: “President Trump is a 76-year old man. He is not an impressionable child. Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices. As our investigation has shown, Donald Trump had access to more detailed and specific information showing that the election was not actually stolen than almost any other American. And he was told this over and over again. No rational or sane man in his position can disregard that information and reach the opposite conclusion. And Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind.”
“Ten Republican members of Congress attended a Dec. 21 White House meeting focused on efforts to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to help overturn the 2020 election,“ Axios reports.
“The revelation underscores how deep the involvement of some lawmakers were in former President Trump’s schemes to overturn the election even after the electoral college met to affirm President Biden’s victory.”
“A group of conservatives, including prominent lawyers and retired federal judges, issued a 72-page report on Thursday categorically rebutting each of the claims made in court by former President Donald Trump and his supporters over the 2020 election results,” CNN reports.
Donald Trump’s inner circle increasingly views Mark Meadows “as a likely fall guy for the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election,” Rolling Stone reports.
The House Jan. 6 Committee has been quietly digging into Meadows’ finances, according to Rolling Stone. More specifically, his financial arrangements with the other cronies who tried to help Trump cling to power after the election.
Trump himself has reportedly been starting to act like he didn’t always know what Meadows was up to in recent conversations with associates.
“Members of Trump’s legal team are actively planning planning certain strategies around Meadows’ downfall — including possible criminal charges. Trump has himself begun the process of distancing himself from some of his onetime senior aide’s alleged actions around Jan. 6.”
“Meadows’ already bleak legal prospects could get even worse. Rolling Stone has learned that the Jan. 6 committee has been quietly probing his financial dealings, and any new revelations would add to an already long list of unethical and potential illegal actions he’s accused of taking on behalf of Donald Trump.”
Former Trump communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin told CNN that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told her Donald Trump would not be leaving office after his 2020 election defeat.
Said Griffin: “I can tell you before I resigned, I said ‘Sir, I’m planning to move on, I want to put in my notice.’ And he said to me, ‘What if I could tell you we’re actually going to be staying?’”
House Jan. 6 Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told reporters on Wednesday that the “only issue” his committee’s “engaged” with with the Justice Department is the panel’s evidence of Trump’s bogus elector plot.
“Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, an ally of former President Donald Trump, is expected to meet Friday with the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021,” CNN reports.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told NBC News that Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone corroborated virtually all of the revelations from previous witnesses, including former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
Said Raskin: “Cipollone has corroborated almost everything that we’ve learned from the prior hearings. I certainly did not hear him contradict Cassidy Hutchinson… He had the opportunity to say whatever he wanted to say, so I didn’t see any contradiction there.”
A new Politico/Morning Consult poll suggests the January 6 Committee could be changing the public’s understanding of that day’s events:
66% of voters say Donald Trump attempted to overturn the 2020 election.
66% say he claimed the election was fraudulent without evidence.
59% say he misled the public about the outcome of the election.
Also interesting: 44% of Republicans say Trump lied about the election results. That’s up seven points since the end of June.
“Still reeling from the Supreme Court’s decision to end Roe v. Wade, congressional Democrats are readying legislation to codify nationwide contraceptive access, LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights — and even potentially long-settled precedent on interracial marriage,” Axios reports.
“The question: Will Republicans go along, or block them?”
Thirteen states have banned or severely restricted abortion: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah, according to Axios.
Abortions will soon be banned in Idaho, North Dakota and Wyoming, as these states have trigger bans that will take effect only after a certain time period.
Most abortions could be banned or be heavily restricted in Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska.
“President Biden left Washington for a four-day trip to the Middle East on Tuesday to try to slow down an accelerating Iranian nuclear program, speed up the flow of oil to American pumps and reshape the relationship with Saudi Arabia without seeming to embrace a crown prince the CIA believes was behind the killing of a prominent dissident who lived in the United States,” the New York Times reports.
“All three efforts are fraught with political dangers for a president who knows the region well, but returns for the first time in six years with far less leverage than he would like to shape events.”
“His 18-month long negotiation to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal has ground to a stop, stymying the diplomatic effort to force Tehran to ship out of the country most of the nuclear fuel it is now enriching to near-bomb-grade levels.”
CNN: Biden embraces a signature Trump achievement on first trip to the Middle East, aiming to bring Israel and Saudi Arabia closer.
“If President Biden’s arrival in Israel on Wednesday for his first trip here since taking office could be summarized in just two words, they might be: Donald who?,” the New York Times reports.
“A year and a half after Donald Trump left the White House, Israeli leaders welcomed his successor with a rapturous embrace, as if to prove that their love affair with the former president would not stand in the way of a close relationship with the new president. As for Mr. Biden, he seemed just as determined to prove that he took a back seat to no one in supporting Israel.”
“President Joe Biden wasn’t supposed to shake hands with foreign leaders during his trip to the Middle East this week, a precaution against catching Covid-19 that would also help avoid a politically awkward greeting with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman,” Bloomberg reports.
“But shortly after he stepped off Air Force One in Israel on Wednesday, Biden shook hands with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, undercutting what the White House had said were health-related precautions.”
“As President Biden prepares to visit Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich kingdom is closer than ever to Russia and has no plans to disengage from Moscow or help Washington by pumping more crude,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The burgeoning partnership between Russia and the Saudis, rooted in their vast petroleum production capacity, has upended an oil-for-security arrangement between Washington and Riyadh that has lasted nearly half a century and been a central fixture of the post-World War II international order.”
President Joe Biden said in an interview that former President Donald Trump made a “gigantic mistake” withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and said Iran was closer now to acquiring a nuclear weapon, CNN reports.
Said Biden: “The only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is Iran with nuclear weapons.”
Jake Tapper interviewed former Trump national security adviser John Bolton on CNN:
TAPPER: One doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup.
BOLTON: I disagree with that. As somebody who has helped plan coup d’etat, not here, but other places, it takes a lot of work.
The Austin American Statesman has disturbing video of the police response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“The video tells in real time the brutal story of how heavily armed officers failed to immediately launch a cohesive and aggressive response to stop the shooter and save more children if possible.”
An example: “At 12:30, an officer inside the school wearing a helmet and ballistic vest pauses to squirt hand sanitizer from a wall-mounted dispenser and rubs his hands together.”
Mother Jones has leaked audio showing that on October 31, 2020, Steve Bannon “told a group of associates that President Donald Trump had a plan to declare victory on election night—even if he was losing.”
“Trump knew that the slow counting of Democratic-leaning mail-in ballots meant the returns would show early leads for him in key states. His ‘strategy’ was to use this fact to assert that he had won, while claiming that the inevitable shifts in vote totals toward Joe Biden must be the result of fraud, Bannon explained.”
Two days after the judge shot down ex-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s request to push back his contempt of Congress trial, which is scheduled for Monday, the Trump crony asked the judge again yesterday to delay the trial.
Bannon’s legal team claimed there were two new issues that’ve since arisen that create a “very serious risk of prejudice” against him among jurors: That the House Jan. 6 Committee had shown clips of Bannon’s podcast during the panel’s Tuesday hearing, and that CNN will air a one-hour documentary about Bannon Sunday, something Bannon’s lawyers claimed they found out “just today.”
One of Bannon’s attorneys had openly griped on Monday “What’s the point in going to trial here if there are no defenses?” after the judge threw out several of his potential defenses, so maybe it’s not surprising that “clips of my client’s publicly accessible podcast were used in a hearing and also I didn’t know CNN was going to air a documentary about my client” was the best they could do.
Meanwhile, House Jan. 6 Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) says that Bannon still hasn’t sent any documents to the panel in response to its subpoena.
Attorney David Schoen complained to U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols after losing a bid to delay Steve Bannon’s trial, per the Washington Post:
SCHOEN: What’s the point of going to trial if there are no defenses?
“What started as a Steve Bannon public relations stunt may have just ended as a spectacular self-own,” the Daily Beast reports.
“After nine months of refusing to answer the House Jan. 6 Committee’s questions—and fighting off related criminal contempt charges in court—the right-wing provocateur is suddenly dangling an offer to finally testify. The gambit is supposed to make the Justice Department look bad. But doing so on the eve of trial risks having him incriminate himself before Congress, then get convicted the very next week.”
“Now Bannon is barreling toward a trial while dangling potential testimony before the congressional panel—a prime opportunity to perjure himself or explain why he broke the law—and lawyers say there’s practically nothing he can do that won’t land him in even more legal jeopardy.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN he would fight a judge’s order for him to testify before a grand jury in the probe over Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia.
Graham filed a motion in federal court in South Carolina on Wednesday to quash a Georgia grand jury’s subpoena that is part of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ probe of Trump’s election interference. The GOP senator’s move comes after a Georgia judge ordered him to comply with the subpoena, saying he was a “necessary and material witness” in Willis’ investigation.
Said Graham: “We will be going to court to contest the subpoena. Stay tuned — our lawyers are involved.”
Graham also told Fox radio: “If we open up county prosecutors being able to call every member of the Senate based on some investigation they think is good for the country we’ll ruin the place.”
Ty Cobb, who led the Trump White House response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, issued a blistering statement about Donald Trump:
“One thing the Democrats know for certain is that Trump’s uncontrolled ego is his own worst enemy. They are praying they are able to goad him into an announcement for a 2024 presidential run.”
“A 2024 declaration of his candidacy serves no interest but his self-defeating and overwhelming need for relevance, attention and money. Such an announcement also does not inoculate him from criminal investigation.”
“He is a disaster for the Republican Party for which he prevented a Senate majority in 2020 and, as time will demonstrate, has already done the same for 2022 with his endorsements of unelectable candidates all based on their loyalty or his own driving desire for revenge.”
Ivana Trump, the ex-wife of former President Donald Trump, has died at age 73, ABC News reports.
Ivana Trump was Donald Trump’s first wife. They had three children together: Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump.
“Italy’s golden period of stability suddenly seemed on the familiar precipice of chaos on Thursday after Prime Minister Mario Draghi tendered his resignation in response to a revolt by anti-establishment populists within his broad national unity government,” the New York Times reports.
“But in a sign of how traumatic Mr. Draghi’s departure would be for Italy, the country’s president refused to accept his resignation, essentially freezing the political situation in place until next week, when Mr. Draghi will address parliament.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, has officially closed its doors, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reports.
“The Idaho Republican Party will consider 31 resolutions at its three-day convention starting Thursday, including one already adopted by Texas Republicans that President Joe Biden isn’t the legitimate leader of the country.” the AP reports.
“Both the Idaho and Texas resolutions contend that secretaries of state circumvented their state legislatures, even though both states have Republican secretaries of state.”
“The unpredictable contest to find a new British prime minister has produced a dark horse,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Penny Mordaunt, little known outside Conservative Party circles, is emerging as the biggest threat to former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s campaign to take over as leader of the party. Seen as a long shot only days ago, she became the odds-on favorite Wednesday at betting houses in Britain after several polls showed her topping popularity polls with grass roots Conservative members.”
A new YouGov poll finds Mourdunt the clear leader among Conservative Party members.
“Sri Lanka’s president fled the country and appointed the prime minister as acting leader, the speaker of parliament said, as protesters breached the prime minister’s office and the island was placed under a state of emergency,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
New York Times: “There was no clear sign of who was in charge for hours on Wednesday after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country, instead of resigning.”
“The U.S. government believes that Iran may try to assassinate current or former senior American officials to avenge the death more than two years ago of its top military and intelligence commander,” Yahoo News reports.
President Biden released one of the James Webb Space Telescope ’s first images. It’s absolutely stunning.
Los Angeles Times: “Billions of years ago, long before a swirling cloud of gas and dust coalesced to form the sun, light left the earliest stars and began a long journey through space.”
“The light has been traveling ever since, covering trillions upon trillions of miles. It hurtled by galaxies and their nascent stars, some of which were accompanied by planets. And on one of these, a species evolved with the ability not only to question what might be out there, but to build tools to see what its own eyes could not.”
“On Monday, the world got its first glimpse of that ancient light courtesy of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the most sophisticated and ambitious deep-space viewing tool yet assembled.”