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Jan. 6 panel warns of attempts to 'influence' witnesses by Trump allies

In at least two instances, witnesses received phone calls telling them to remain a "team player" and "loyal" and that Trump reads deposition transcripts, Cheney said.
Former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump speaks in Nashville, Tenn., on June 17.Mark Humphrey / AP file

WASHINGTON — Jan. 6 committee members revealed at the close of Tuesday’s hearing that they are concerned that allies of former President Donald Trump are trying to intimidate witnesses who are cooperating with the special House panel.

"Most people know that attempting to influence witnesses to testify untruthfully presents very serious concerns. We will be discussing these issues as a committee and carefully considering our next steps," Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said at the conclusion of the hearing.

Cheney, the top Republican on the panel, said the committee routinely asks witnesses whether they have been contacted by any former Trump administration or campaign officials “who attempted to influence or impact their testimony.” 

The committee has already made criminal recommendations for people who refused to comply with subpoenas. Federal law prohibits obstructing a congressional investigation or intimidating witnesses.

Cheney said the panel discovered at least two examples of potential witness intimidation.

The first was a phone call that a Jan. 6 witness described receiving and Cheney read a description of: “What they said to me is as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World.

"And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind as I proceeded through my depositions and interviews with the committee.”

A second witness, according to Cheney, also received a phone call before his or her deposition: Someone “let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. 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 allegations of possible witness tampering prompted a former top Trump official to tweet that it could represent a “serious problem” for Trump.

“The Press is going to focus on some sensational revelations from today:  guns, grabbing a secret service agent, etc. But the real bomb that got dropped was the implied charge of witness tampering,” Mick Mulvaney, Trump's former acting chief of staff, tweeted.

“If there is hard evidence, that is a serious problem for the former President.”

In its yearlong investigation, the Jan. 6 panel has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and received more than 140,000 documents, and it is following up on 471 tips received through its tip line.