Jan. 6 panel releases Hannity texts, asks for cooperation
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol released a series of text messages from Sean Hannity the panel says suggests the Fox News host was aware of plans to contest President Biden’s election victory as it asked him to voluntarily cooperate with the committee.
In a letter to Hannity, the panel reviewed five communications sent by the conservative commentator among dozens in the committee’s possession, including previously unreleased texts they argue show he “had advance knowledge regarding President Trump’s and his legal team’s planning for January 6th.”
On Dec. 31, Hannity appeared to express concern over losing support from the White House legal team while relaying his advice to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.
“We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6 th. He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen,” Hannity wrote that night.
The panel also questioned Hannity about “a stream of texts” he sent and received on Jan. 5, the night before the riot.
“You wrote: ‘Im very worried about the next 48 hours.’ With the counting of the electoral votes scheduled for January 6th at 1 p.m., why were you concerned about the next 48 hours?” the committee asked in its letter.
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 letter also alludes to multiple conversations Hannity may have had with Trump and asks him about any awareness of plans to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
The texts follow an earlier release of communications with Meadows that showed Hannity and others at Fox were dismayed by the Jan. 6 attack, going directly to administration officials to express their concern.
Asking for cooperation from Hannity — a sitting member of the media — would be a remarkable step for congressional investigators.
Fox News referred The Hill to Hannity’s attorney, Jay Sekulow.
Jay Sekulow did not immediately respond to request for comment, but earlier Tuesday told Axios he had yet to be informed of the request.
“If true, any such request would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press,” he said.
Axios was the first to report the committee’s interest in Hannity.
The committee addressed the topic in its letter, noting it would steer clear of some topics.
“The Select Committee has immense respect for the First Amendment to our Constitution, freedom of the press, and the rights of Americans to express their political opinions freely. For that reason, we do not intend to seek information from you regarding your broadcasts on radio or television, your public reporting or commentary, or your political views regarding any candidate for office,” they wrote.
But speaking with NBC earlier Tuesday, committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the committee views Hannity as a fact witness who often went beyond the normal channels available to a member of the media, becoming a central figure in the Trump realm.
“He was more than a FOX host. He was also a confidant, adviser, campaigner for the former president,” Schiff said.
The committee points to two instances where Hannity may have communicated with Trump directly, including on Jan. 5 and then again on Jan. 10, writing to both Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) apparently raising new possible options ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration. It argues that message specifically shows Hannity had insight into Trump’s state of mind.
“Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. 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?” Hannity wrote.
Finally, the committee said Hannity texted Meadows on Jan. 6 inquiring about any effort to remove Trump from office.
“As you may recall, Secretaries DeVos and Chao both resigned following the President’s conduct on January 6th, as did members of the President’s White House staff,” the letter states.
“We would like to question you regarding any conversations you had with Mr. Meadows or others about any effort to remove the President under the 25th Amendment.”