Lawmakers investigating the January 6 riots at the US Capitol last year have indicated they may send a referral to the Justice Department for prosecution of illegal tampering with witnesses testifying to the panel.
Liz Cheney, deputy chairman of the House of Representatives investigative panel, displayed two messages in notes sent to witnesses to the hearing on Tuesday, saying former President Donald Trump was keeping a close eye on the hearing and counting on continued loyalty. The sender of the note has not been identified.
The panel is investigating how the rebellion unfolded and its role in preventing Trump’s 2020 election defeat.
Cheney disclosed the notes two hours after the explosive testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, the former top aide to Mark Meadows, who was Trump’s last White House chief of staff.
Hutchinson described in detail how Trump became angry and unsettled in the final weeks of his presidency as the reality of his loss to Democrat Joe Biden drowned and his own aides dismissed his repeated claims that he should Was cheated in re-election.
CNN quoted unnamed sources as saying on Thursday that Hutchinson was one of the witnesses contacted by anyone trying to influence her testimony.
In an interview Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” show, Cheney said the attempt to influence witnesses is “very serious. It really gets to the heart of our legal system. And that’s something the committee is certain of. Will review thoroughly.”
He said, “It gives us a real insight into how the people around the former president are acting, to what extent they believe they can influence the testimony of witnesses before the committee. And it’s something like It’s something that we take very seriously, and it’s something that people should be aware of. It’s a very serious issue, and I think the Department of Justice will be very interested in that, and will take it very seriously as well “
At Tuesday’s hearing, Cheney did not say which committee witnesses were contacted, but two text messages were displayed on a large television screen.
One said, “What they told me is as long as I remain a team player, they know I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect.” Need, you know, I’ll continue to live in good graces in Trump World.”
“And they have reminded me twice that Trump reads the tapes and just to keep that in mind as I go through my statements and interviews with the committee,” he continued.
In another instance, a second witness said, “[A person] Tell me you have your statement tomorrow. He wants me to tell you that he is thinking of you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go for your statement.”
Another member of the investigative panel, Representative Zoe Lofgren, told CNN: “This is a concern, and anyone who is trying to deny or tamper with witnesses should notice that this is a crime, And we are fully prepared to provide any evidence we have to the appropriate authorities.”
Representative Jamie Ruskin, a member of the third committee, said after the hearing, “It is a crime to tamper with witnesses. It is a form of obstructing justice. The committee will not tolerate this. And we haven’t had a chance to fully investigate or fully discuss it, but it’s something we want to look into.”