By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 11, 2022 ~
Two members of the January 6 House Select Committee who will do the questioning of witnesses at this coming Tuesday’s hearing appeared on two of the key Sunday news programs. House Rep Jamie Raskin (D-MD) made an appearance on the CBS program, Face the Nation, while House Rep Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) gave an interview to Chuck Todd on the NBC program, Meet the Press.
Raskin revealed that the infamous December 18 meeting at the White House will be explored at Tuesday’s hearing. Highlights of that meeting have been covered in numerous books and articles but now the Committee plans to offer first-hand testimony (potentially from filmed depositions) about the illegal proposals that were discussed with President Donald Trump at that meeting.
Trump’s outside lawyers at that meeting, who were referred to by White House lawyers as “Team Crazy,” included Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. The meeting started out in the Oval Office with Trump, Powell, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, former Overstock.com CEO, Patrick Bryne, and former Trump administration official, Emily Newman. Giuliani was reached by phone at a local restaurant and joined the group.
According to the various book and media reports on the December 18 meeting, ideas to stop the transfer of the Presidency to Joe Biden ranged from seizing Dominion voting machines, which Powell was alleging had been rigged, to the appointment of Powell as a Special Counsel to investigate election fraud, to the President declaring something akin to martial law using the National Emergencies Act and an executive order.
Fortunately for the country, White House lawyers were present at this meeting, which started shortly after 7 p.m. in the Oval Office and later moved to the living room of the President’s residence in the White House, lasting until around midnight.
Pushing back on the plans from “Team Crazy,” were White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, whom the Committee deposed this past Friday; and Eric Herschmann, a former Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan DA’s office who went on to work for Kasowitz Benson & Torres, the law firm that represented Trump during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In August of 2020, Herschmann accepted a post as advisor to the President.
If past reporting is any gauge, Herschmann’s f-bomb laced retorts to Team Crazy during the December 18 meeting are likely to get an airing on Tuesday. Raskin also appeared to suggest that new videotaped testimony from Cipollone about this meeting may be aired at Tuesday’s hearing.
The Vice Chair of the House Select Committee, Liz Cheney, had remarked about this December 18 meeting during her opening remarks at the first public hearing on June 9. Cheney stated that just a little more than an hour after this meeting had broken up, Trump sent out a Tweet encouraging people to come to Washington on January 6: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” Trump wrote. “Be there, will be wild!”
Cheney also stated this in her remarks.
“As you will see, this was a pivotal moment. This tweet initiated a chain of events. The tweet led to the planning for what occurred on January 6th, including by the Proud Boys who ultimately led the invasion of the Capitol and the violence that day…
“Although certain former Trump officials have argued that they did not anticipate violence on January 6th, the evidence suggests otherwise. As you will see in our hearings, the White House was receiving specific reports in the days leading up to January 6th, including during President Trump’s Ellipse rally, indicating that elements in the crowd were preparing for violence at the Capitol.
“And, on the evening of January 5th, the President’s close advisor Steve Bannon said this on his podcast: ‘All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this, all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.’
“As part of our investigation, we will present information about what the White House and other intelligence agencies knew, and why the Capitol was not better prepared. But we will not lose sight of the fact that the Capitol Police did not cause the crowd to attack. And we will not blame the violence that day, violence provoked by Donald Trump, on the officers who bravely defended all of you.
“In our final hearing, you will hear a moment-by-moment account of the hours-long attack from more than a half dozen White House staff, both live in the hearing room and via videotaped testimony. There is no doubt that President Trump was well aware of the violence as it developed.
“White House staff urged President Trump to intervene and call off the mob…
“This is exactly what his supporters on Capitol Hill and nationwide were urging the President to do. He would not. You will hear that leaders on Capitol Hill begged the President for help, including Republican Leader McCarthy, who was ‘scared’ and called multiple members of President Trump’s family after he could not persuade the President himself.
“Not only did President Trump refuse to tell the mob to leave the Capitol, he placed no call to any element of the U.S. government to instruct that the Capitol be defended. He did not call his Secretary of Defense on January 6th. He did not talk to his Attorney General. He did not talk to the Department of Homeland Security.
“President Trump gave no order to deploy the National Guard that day, and he made no effort to work with the Department of Justice to coordinate and deploy law enforcement assets. But Vice President Pence did each of those things….”
Another pivotal meeting that may see some daylight at Tuesday’s hearing is the meeting that was held on the evening of January 5 at the luxurious Willard Hotel, located about a block from the White House. (Single rooms there can run from $300 per night to more than $600 with suites running from $900 per night and up.)
According to previous reporting, suites of rooms at the Willard Hotel were serving as a “War Room,” or “Command Center,” for those planning the January 6 event at the Capitol. Working in the “War Room” were Giuliani; Bannon; former New York City Police Commissioner in the Giuliani administration, Bernie Kerik, (who ended up serving time in prison for tax fraud and received a presidential pardon from Trump); and John Eastman, the former professor and Dean at the Chapman University School of Law, who attempted to persuade former Vice President Mike Pence that he had the authority to reject various states’ slates of electors on January 6, thus denying Biden the Presidency. Eastman was one of the speakers peddling voter fraud at the rally on the Ellipse on January 6.
According to reporting at the Washington Post, the Trump campaign eventually made payments of “more than $225,000 to firms owned by Kerik and Giuliani – including more than $50,000 for rooms and suites at the posh Willard hotel in Washington….”
During the June 28 House Select Committee hearing, Cassidy Hutchinson, the principal aide to White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, testified that Meadows had originally planned to attend the strategy session at the Willard on the evening of January 5, but decided to dial in to the meeting instead.
Another area that the Committee is expected to explore on Tuesday are the paramilitary groups that turned out on January 6. According to a report at NBC on Sunday, one of the witnesses expected to appear live at the Tuesday hearing is Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, “who hasn’t been actively involved with the Oath Keepers since about 2017.” Van Tatenhove, according to NBC, “is expected to speak about the far-right militia’s propaganda efforts and radicalization.”
In a podcast that Van Tatenhove released on June 7, he indicates that he expected his live testimony to occur at a June 21 House Select hearing. In that podcast, he also mentions that Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, lived in his basement for eight months.
The U.S. Department of Justice released an indictment against Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers on January 13. It read in part:
“The seditious conspiracy indictment alleges that, following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, Rhodes conspired with his co-defendants and others to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021. Beginning in late December 2020, via encrypted and private communications applications, Rhodes and various co-conspirators coordinated and planned to travel to Washington, D.C., on or around Jan. 6, 2021, the date of the certification of the electoral college vote, the indictment alleges. Rhodes and several co-conspirators made plans to bring weapons to the area to support the operation. The co-conspirators then traveled across the country to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in early January 2021.
“According to the seditious conspiracy indictment, the defendants conspired through a variety of manners and means, including: organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.; recruiting members and affiliates to participate in the conspiracy; organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons and supplies – including knives, batons, camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection and radio equipment – to the Capitol grounds; breaching and attempting to take control of the Capitol grounds and building on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the electoral college vote; using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; continuing to plot, after Jan. 6, 2021, to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power, and using websites, social media, text messaging and encrypted messaging applications to communicate with co-conspirators and others.”
In court papers the Justice Department filed this past Friday, it is charging that grenades and other weapons were brought by members of the Oath Keepers to the Washington D.C. area ahead of the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.