Jan. 6 committee requests cooperation from Sean Hannity, Fox News host

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The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has requested Sean Hannity’s cooperation with its probe after obtaining text messages that the lawmakers say indicate that the Fox News host had “advance knowledge” of then-President Trump’s plans for that date.

In a letter to Mr. Hannity on Tuesday, committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson revealed several texts between Mr. Hannity and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and other Trump insiders in the days leading up to the riot.

“The Select Committee is in possession of dozens of text messages you sent to and received from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and others related to the 2020 election and President Trump’s efforts to contest the outcome of the vote,” Mr. Thompson wrote.

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“These communications make you a fact witness in our investigation,” he continued.

There was no immediate public response from Mr. Hannity himself. But his counsel Jay Sekulow told Axios, who first reported on the panel’s letter before it was made public, that “If true, any such request would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press.”

Among the correspondence revealed in the letter was a text that Mr. Hannity sent Mr. Meadows on Dec. 31, in which the Fox News host appears to push back against Mr. Trump‘s attempts to maintain his grip on the presidency by pushing election-fraud claims.

“We can’t lose the entire WH counsel’s office,” Mr. Hannity wrote. “I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6th 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.”

Mr. Thompson said the text suggests that Mr. Hannity “had knowledge of concerns by President Trump’s White House Counsel’s Office regarding the legality of the former President’s plans for January 6th.”

In another text from Jan. 5, the night before the storming of the Capitol, Mr. Hannity wrote that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.” And as the Capitol was under siege on Jan. 6, Mr. Hannity texted Mr. Meadows with a plea that Mr. Trump should advise his supporters to “peacefully leave the Capitol.”

Mr. Hannity also texted Mr. Meadows about press coverage on Jan. 6 related to possible efforts by Cabinet members to remove Mr. Trump from office under the 25th Amendment.

“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,” Mr. Thompson wrote. “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.”

Mr. Thompson said other texts reveal that Mr. Hannity had “detailed knowledge regarding President Trump’s state of mind in the days following the January 6th attack.”

“For example, you appear to have had a discussion with President Trump on January 10th that may have raised a number of specific concerns about his possible actions in the days before the January 20th inaugural,” Mr. Thompson said.

Last month, the committee revealed several texts from other Fox News hosts obtained from Mr. Meadows in which they pleaded for the president to deescalate the situation at the Capitol.

The texts were part of a trove of documents Mr. Meadows turned over to the committee before he abruptly withdrew his cooperation with the probe.

Mr. Hannity is the first Fox News Channel host from whom the committee has formally requested cooperation. Mr. Thompson made clear in the letter that the host’s participation is strictly voluntary.

“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,” Mr. Thompson wrote. “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.”

“At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to investigate fully the facts and circumstances of these events in order to inform our legislative recommendations,” he said.

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