Allegations of Witness Tampering Gain Traction

Reports say Trump allies gave tacit warnings to Cassidy Hutchinson in particular
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2022 1:25 PM CDT
Allegations of Witness Tampering Gain Traction
Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the Jan. 6 panel on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Near the end of the last Jan. 6 hearing, Rep. Liz Cheney accused allies of former President Trump of attempting to intimidate witnesses, and she displayed two messages that she says make her case, per the Hill. Cheney didn't name any names, but reports now say that Cassidy Hutchinson—who delivered dramatic public testimony against Trump at the last hearing and sat for hours of panel interviews before that—was the recipient of both messages shown.

  • First message: Politico reports that just before she sat for a March 7 deposition, Hutchinson was contacted by an intermediary of former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows (her former boss). Meadows "let me know you have your deposition tomorrow," she says the person told her. "He wants me to let you know that he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition."
  • Second message: The other message displayed by Cheney quotes a witness who told the panel: "What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I'm on the team, I'm doing the right thing, I'm protecting who I need to protect, you know, I'll continue to stay in the good graces in Trump World. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind as I proceeded through my depositions and interviews with the committee." The Guardian (as well as Politico) reports that the unnamed person speaking to the panel in this case also was Hutchinson.

  • Denial: A Meadows representative disputes that Meadows attempted to influence his former underling. "No one from Meadows' camp, himself or otherwise, has ever attempted to intimidate or shape Ms. Hutchinson's testimony to the committee," spokesman Ben Williamson says in a statement to Politico. "Any phone call or message she is describing is at best deeply misleading."
  • Investigation? A Democrat on the committee, Rep. Pete Aguilar, told CNN this week that the messages shown by Cheney amount to witness tampering. "I think that that's something that should be looked at by our committee and potentially by the Department of Justice."
  • Another facet: The New York Times, meanwhile, reports that Trump's political organization and other supporters have been paying the legal fees of people called to give depositions before the panel. That's not illegal, but it is "raising legal and ethical questions about whether the former president may be influencing testimony with a direct bearing on him," per the story. Hutchinson provided her public testimony after dropping a Trump-allied attorney and getting a new lawyer.
(Read more Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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