The Jan. 6 committee is requesting voluntary cooperation from Sean Hannity, Chair Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney wrote in a letter released Tuesday. The letter cites previously unreleased text messages obtained by the committee, including one sent on Jan. 10 in which the Fox News host appears to express concern over what Trump might do ahead of Biden’s inauguration.
“Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days,” Hannity wrote to then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “He can’t mention the election again. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. 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?”
The committee wrote that the text indicates Hannity appears to “have detailed knowledge regarding President Trump’s state of mind” in the days following the riot.
Thompson and Cheney also cited “dozens” of text messages Hannity exchanged with Meadows about efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as well as Hannity’s direct communications with President Trump around Jan. 6. The letter notes reveals Hannity was concerned ahead of Jan. 6, as well, referring to a text message sent on the night of Jan. 5 in which he says he’s worried about what could happen over the course of the next two days.
“With the counting of the electoral votes scheduled for January 6th at 1 p.m., why were you concerned about the next 48 hours?” Thompson and Cheney wrote.
The Committee is seeking information from Sean Hannity.
Chair @BennieGThompson and Vice Chair @RepLizCheney request Hannity answer questions about matters including communications between Hannity and the former President, Mark Meadows, and others in the days surrounding Jan 6th. pic.twitter.com/wXtOGSsneg
— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) January 4, 2022
The news of the committee’s intention to question Hannity was initially reported by Axios. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who sits on the committee, confirmed Axios’ report shortly before the committee released the letter Tuesday evening. “Yes,” Schiff said on MSNBC. “I think you’ll see an announcement about that very soon. We believe that he was texting with the chief of staff and that he has information that would be relevant to our committee. He was more than a Fox host, he was also a confidante, adviser, campaigner for the former president.”
Question: Are you looking for information or cooperation from Hannity?
Schiff: Yes pic.twitter.com/jH58FoDCVW
— Acyn (@Acyn) January 4, 2022
Hannity was outed last month as having texted Mark Meadows during the Jan. 6 attack, asking the former White House chief of staff, “Can [Trump] make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.” Meadows turned the texts, as well as other relevant communications — including an email referencing a PowerPoint on how to subvert democracy — over to the committee voluntarily before deciding to halt his cooperation.
Despite his text on Jan. 6, which suggested Trump had influence over the crowd, Hannity has recently floated the conspiracy theory (also pushed by Tucker Carlson on the network’s streaming platform) that parts of Jan. 6 were “staged.” “Do I think there were some people, based on the reports, that there were people that had staged certain things?” Hannity said on his radio show last month. “Yeah, I think that’s true.”
Responding to the news of his text to Meadows, Hannity said on his show: “Surprise, surprise, surprise: I said to Mark Meadows the exact same thing I was saying live on the radio at that time and on TV that night on Jan. 6 and well beyond Jan. 6.”
Here’s part of what Hannity said on his show that night: “I’d like to know who the agitators were,” he told viewers, adding that “those who truly support President Trump … do not support those that commit acts of violence.”
“I don’t care if the radical left, radical right — I don’t know who they are,” Hannity continued. “They’re not people I would support. So how were officials not prepared? We got to answer that question. How did they allow the Capitol building to be breached in what seemed like less than a few minutes?”
In a statement to Axios, Hannity’s attorney, Jay Sekulow (who was also on Trump’s impeachment defense team) said, “If true, any such request would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press.”
Included in the texts that Meadows provided the committee, some of which were read aloud at a hearing by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), were messages from other Fox News hosts, including Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade. “Please get [Trump] on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” Kilmeade pleaded. Ingraham, too, wanted Trump to quell the violence. “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” she wrote. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
There’s no word yet on whether the committee plans to request cooperation from Ingraham or Kilmeade.