Ex-Trump campaign manager will miss Jan. 6 hearing for family emergency
Former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien will no longer appear before the House Jan. 6 committee Monday, removing a key witness as the panel seeks to show how the Trump campaign forwarded baseless claims of election fraud.
“Due to a family emergency, Mr. William Stepien is unable to testify before the Select Committee this morning. His counsel will appear and make a statement on the record,” the committee said in a statement Monday morning less than an hour before the hearing was set to begin.
Stepien’s wife is in labor, which is why he is unable to appear, a source familiar with the situation told The Hill. Stepien’s attorney will make a statement in his place.
In its advisory, the committee delayed the start of its second day of hearings by “30 to 45 minutes.”
The former campaign attorney’s announcement that he would miss the hearing came after he told multiple outlets that he was appearing before the panel under subpoena.
Witnesses often appear before lawmakers or their investigators under “friendly subpoena,” and Stepien had not filed suit to challenge his compulsory testimony.
He is, however, an adviser to the campaign of one of the GOP primary opponents challenging Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the committee’s vice chair — another interesting dynamic in his slated appearance.
Jan. 6 Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said he was “not sure” if Stepien would appear before the committee at a later date.
It was also unclear how cooperative of a witness he would be. A committee aide on a Sunday call with reporters declined to answer a question about how cooperative he would be.
Stepien’s appearance was a big get for the committee, who said Sunday they would show former President Trump was “told again and again that he didn’t have [the] numbers to win.”
“Tomorrow’s hearing is focused on the big lie: the decision by the former president to ignore the will of the voters, declare victory in an election he lost, spread claims of fraud and then decide to ignore the rulings of courts when the judgment of course didn’t go his way,” a committee aide said on a call with reporters.
Stepien was seen as a major player in those efforts, including how Trump’s false claims of election fraud were used in fundraising efforts.
The committee subpoenaed Stepien in November, noting his involvement in the “Stop the Steal” rallies organized on behalf of Trump, including promoting claims around issues with voting machines “despite an internal memo in which campaign staff determined such claims were false.”
He also helmed a campaign tasked with “asking states to delay or deny certification of electoral votes and by sending multiple slates of electoral votes to the United States Congress,” the committee said in November.
Brett Samuels contributed.
Updated at 10:45 a.m.