WASHINGTON—The House Jan. 6 select committee is asking Fox News host Sean Hannity to voluntarily participate in a transcribed interview and to preserve communications he had with former president Donald Trump, the White House and others concerning the attack on the Capitol.
Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a letter addressed to Hannity on Tuesday that the panel has information that indicates the Fox News host had advance knowledge of Trump and his team’s plans for Jan. 6.
Thompson said the panel has “dozens” of text messages between Hannity and former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and others concerning Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. The panel is particularly interested in examining a series of Hannity’s communications with Trump, Trump’s White House staff and his legal team between Dec. 31, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021, the day President Joe Biden was inaugurated.
“We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see Jan. 6 happening the way he is being told,” Hannity texted Meadows, according to the committee. “After the 6th. (sic) He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”
Hannity’s apparent concerns about the legality of Trump’s plans for Jan. 6 are “directly relevant” to the panel’s investigation, the letter said.
On Jan. 5, the evening before the attack, Hannity exchanged several texts in which he said, “Im very worried about the next 48 hours.” The committee said it has questions about why Hannity was worried about that time period, which included Congress meeting to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Hannity also may have had a conversation directly with Trump on the night of Jan. 5, and possibly other instances, about planning for Jan. 6, according to the committee.
“Each of these nonprivileged communications is directly relevant to our investigation,” the panel said
Further, Hannity apparently has knowledge of Trump’s thinking after the riot, including a discussion with him on Jan. 10.
“Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today,” Hannity wrote to Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, about Trump. “And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”
Meadows was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to co-operate with the panel and Jordan was asked to provide information voluntarily to the committee. Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry has also been asked to co-operate in the inquiry, but said he would not.
Axios first reported the committee’s interest in speaking with Hannity. When asked for comment, a Fox News spokesperson referred to a statement by Hannity’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, that was provided to Axios.
“If true, any such request would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press,” Sekulow told Axios. Sekulow was one of Trump’s defence attorneys during the former president’s impeachment trial in 2020.
The panel said its goal is not to obtain information from Hannity’s broadcasts, political views or commentary and that it has “deep respect” for the First Amendment.