(CNN) — The Jan. 6 House committee substantiated key details related to former President Donald Trump’s heated exchange with the Secret Service when Trump was told he couldn’t go to Capitol Hill, the latest in a series of shocking revelations to surface. of the hearings with its expected high-profile conclusion next week.
CNN first reported Thursday night that a Washington police officer, in the convoy with the Secret Service, corroborated details to the committee that were related to explosive public testimony by the House select committee earlier in the day. of this month. At the same time, the Secret Service came under renewed scrutiny this week for the agency’s removal of text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021. On Friday, the January 6 commission issued a subpoena to the Secret Service , requesting text messages.
The corroboration comes as the commission plans to focus on Trump’s conduct on January 6, 2021 at its hearing next week, which will focus on Trump’s response, or lack thereof, when rioters breached the walls of the Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee their chambers.
Select members of the commission have accused Trump of “rejection of duty” for failing to act when the Capitol was under attack, and his Vice President, Mike Pence, was in danger. Next week’s hearing is the last planned of the commission’s eight public hearings, as the panel has sought in each session to link Trump to the deadly attack that unfolded on Jan. 6.
“There will be a lot of information, a lot more clarity about the details of the things that happened that day, what the people who were working in the White House, working around the president and even the people who were advising him to do things, actions that he was not taking. based on their reasoned advice,” Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who will help lead the upcoming hearing, told CNN this week. “I view it as a dereliction of duty. He didn’t act. He took no steps to stop the violence.”
New details have emerged about Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. This Saturday, The New York Times reported that a little-known conservative lawyer, William Olson, spoke with Trump in December 2020 over the proposal to enlist the Justice Department to sign a lawsuit in the US Supreme Court to overturn the results of the presidential election, according to a memo Olson wrote to document the call. Olson urged Trump to replace his then-acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, if he did not back the Supreme Court’s lawsuit, according to the memo. Olson also encouraged Trump to replace the lawyers in the White House counsel’s office and take action related to the election that would have effectively amounted to “martial law.”
The Justice Department investigation has also expanded, issuing numerous subpoenas in recent weeks and seeking information in the seven states where the Trump campaign called out fake voters as part of an effort to subvert the Electoral College. Beyond charging rioters, the department has asked questions about organizing rallies that preceded the attack, searched the cell phone of a Trump election attorney and the home of a former Justice Department official, and continued jury duty. researcher on extremist groups. He has reached out to political circles around Trump.
While the Justice Department investigation appears to lag behind the House committee’s work in some respects, and while the two investigations have largely operated separately, they have also begun to intersect.
A primetime audience next week
The commission announced this Friday that it would hold the hearing on Thursday, July 21 at 8 pm (Miami time), the panel’s second prime-time session to try to maximize audience and attention. The panel has not said who will testify at next week’s hearing, though CNN previously reported that former Trump White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews is expected to be a witness.
The commission is also likely to rely heavily on the deposition videos of Pat Cipollone, Trump’s former White House lawyer. Cipollone sat down for a transcribed interview last week, and the commission used excerpts from the interview 14 times during Tuesday’s hearing, including playing video of Cipollone discussing Trump’s response on Jan. 6 to prepare for the hearing. next week.
While next week is the last planned in this series of public hearings on January 6, the select committee has said all along that it is not done with its investigation. Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of two Republicans on the panel, he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview this week that the commission is still considering asking Trump to testify and could request a written response from Pence or issue a subpoena for him to testify.
Investigations Surrounding the Trump Swirl
The Jan. 6 commission is just one of Trump’s potential investigative concerns, even as he considers moving forward with a 2024 presidential campaign ad.
In Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney has subpoenaed Trump allies for testimony before a special grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, is seeking to vacate the subpoena for his testimony, which is related to at least two calls Graham made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his personal after the elections.
In New York, Trump and his children, Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump, are set to be deposed after losing court battles to avoid testifying in the state attorney general’s civil investigation into the Trump Organization. The remarks were scheduled to begin next week but were temporarily delayed due to the death of Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump.
And in Washington, a federal judge this week rejected efforts by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to delay his contempt of Congress trial, with the trial scheduled to begin next week.
Deleted Secret Service texts raise new questions
New questions surrounding the Secret Service and Jan. 6 also surfaced, related to the agency’s removal of text messages on Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, shortly after they were requested by oversight officials.
The Homeland Security inspector general sent a letter to the House and Senate Homeland Security committees alerting them that the messages had been deleted “as part of a device replacement program” after the watchdog requested Secret Service electronic communications.
The House Homeland Security committee is chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who also chairs the House select committee investigating Jan. 6.
DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari met with the House select committee behind closed doors Friday and briefed panel members on the deleted text messages.
Thompson told CNN after the meeting that Cuffari said the Secret Service has not been fully cooperative. He added that the commission will work “to try to determine if those texts can be reinstated.”
According to a source familiar with the briefing, the inspector general told the panel that the Secret Service did not conduct its own Jan. 6 after-action review and chose to rely on the inspector general’s investigation.
“We have had limited engagement with the Secret Service. We will follow up with additional engagement now that we have met with the IG,” Thompson said.
The Secret Service responded in a statement Thursday saying “the suggestion that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages after a request is false.”
“In fact, the Secret Service has been fully cooperating with the OIG in all aspects, whether it be interviews, documents, emails or text messages,” the agency said.
Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat on the select committee, said there appeared to be “conflicting statements” between the inspector general and the Secret Service about whether the text messages had actually been deleted.
Corroborated Explosive Testimony
The Secret Service response on January 6 was already under scrutiny in light of public testimony earlier this month from Cassidy Hutchinson, the former White House assistant to Secretary General Mark Meadows, who recounted extraordinary details about the angry exchange of Trump with the Secret Service on January 6.
In her public testimony, Hutchinson said that then-White House Deputy Secretary General Tony Ornato, who had previously worked for the Secret Service and then returned to the agency in 2021, told her on Jan. 6 that Trump was so angry with her Secret Service for preventing him from going to the Capitol after his Ellipse speech that he “reached out to the front of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel.”
Hutchinson said Ornato told her that Trump “then used his free hand to lunge at” his top Secret Service agent, Robert Engel.
Hutchinson testified that Ornato told him the story in front of Engel and that Engel did not dispute the account.
Trump and his allies have sought to cast doubt on Hutchinson’s account, which includes several additional damning details about Trump’s conduct. After Hutchinson testified, a Secret Service official who declined to go on the record said that Engel would deny parts of the story and that the agents involved would testify publicly to that effect, though they have not returned to the commission to testify.
Neither Engel nor Ornato have commented publicly.
But further corroboration of Hutchinson’s account has emerged since his testimony. CNN reported earlier this month that two Secret Service sources said they heard Trump angrily demanded to go to Capitol Hill and berated his detail when he didn’t get his way.
Sources told CNN that stories about the incident had circulated after January 6, which included details similar to those described by Hutchinson.
In addition, CNN reported Thursday that an agent from the Metropolitan Police Department corroborated the details of Hutchinson’s account and told what he saw to the commission’s investigators.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen, Ryan Nobles, Annie Grayer, Jamie Gangel and Whitney Wild contributed to this report.