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Jan. 6 committee says DOJ will decide whether alleged Trump call to witness broke the law

Committee chair Bennie Thompson said the panel is "obviously concerned" about the unnamed witness, who did not answer the alleged call.

The chair of the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, said Wednesday that the panel is "concerned" about a witness whom former President Donald Trump allegedly phoned in the last few weeks but that it will be up to the Justice Department to determine whether the call amounted to anything illegal.

"You know, we are concerned obviously about the witness. And we’re not going to put that witness in unnecessary jeopardy," Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters Wednesday, a day after the panel first revealed the alleged call to an unidentified witness.

At the close of Tuesday's hearing, the committee's vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said that after the panel's last hearing on June 28, "President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation — a witness you have not yet 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,” Cheney said, adding that the panel alerted the Department of Justice.

“Let me say one more time: We will take any efforts to influence witness testimony very seriously,” Cheney said.

Thompson refused Wednesday to divulge any details on the person's identity, except to say that they are a "person of importance to the committee."

Asked if he thought the Trump call had been an attempt to intimidate a witness, he said he considered the attempted contact "highly unusual."

"That’s why we more or less put that in the hands of the Justice Department, for them to make that decision," Thompson said.

Another committee member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was asked in an interview with CNN if he thought there’d been an attempt to tamper with a witness. “I don’t think we know enough, in part because the attempt was unsuccessful," Schiff said.

Asked to comment on the call Tuesday, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich instead criticized Cheney, the committee and the media.

At the committee's hearing on June 28, Cheney suggested Trump allies had tried to influence witnesses in the case and showed excerpts of statements from witnesses alleging that they had been contacted by someone trying to influence their testimony.

Schiff told CNN on Wednesday that "the fact that there have been multiple efforts to contact or influence witnesses is obviously of deep concern to us."

He added that "one of the reasons we wanted that information out there is to let the former president and his allies know that we are watching this, that we will report their conduct to the department. We want to do everything we can to protect our witnesses."