Politics

Jan. 6 panel seeks info from Fox News host Sean Hannity, reveals texts he sent Trump aides

Key Points
  • The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot asked Fox News host Sean Hannity to answer questions about newly disclosed texts he sent White House staff in the days before and after the attack.
  • The texts show Hannity expressing concern about would happen if then-President Donald Trump persisted in challenging the 2020 election results, and giving advice to Trump's aides.
  • The texts, sent to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows and other Trump aides and White House staff, were revealed in a letter from the select committee seeking Hannity's cooperation with the probe.
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Jan. 6th House committee asks Fox's Sean Hannity to testify; and Trump cancels press conference

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot asked Fox News host Sean Hannity to answer questions about newly disclosed texts he sent White House staff in the days before and after the attack.

The texts show Hannity expressing concerns about would happen if then-President Donald Trump persisted in challenging the 2020 election results, and giving advice to Trump's aides regarding Jan. 6.

The texts, sent to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows and other Trump aides and White House staff, were revealed in a letter from the select committee seeking Hannity's voluntary cooperation with the probe.

"I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told," Hannity texted Meadows on Dec. 31, 2020, the letter showed

"Im very worried about the next 48 hours," Hannity wrote in a text five days later on the eve of the Jan. 6 riot, according to the letter.

The same day, Hannity texted Meadows: "Pence pressure. WH counsel will leave."

Information collected by the committee shows Hannity "had advance knowledge regarding President Trump's and his legal team's planning for January 6th," Thompson and Cheney said in the letter.

"It also appears that you were expressing concerns and providing advice to the President and certain White House staff regarding that planning. You also had relevant communications while the riot was underway, and in the days thereafter," they said.

Axios first reported earlier Tuesday that the committee wants Hannity to cooperate.

Jay Sekulow, described by Axios as counsel to Hannity, told CNBC in an email before the letter was revealed that "we have not heard anything" from the House committee.

Sekulow, an attorney who represented Trump during his first impeachment fight with Congress, had told Axios that "if true, any such request would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press."

Last month, select committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., revealed that Hannity had texted Mark Meadows, then White House chief of staff, on Jan. 6 as the invasion was underway.

"Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol," urged Hannity, Cheney said.

Asked for comment on the committee's interest in Hannity, a Fox News spokesperson directed CNBC toward Sekulow's comments to Axios.

The latest development in the probe came two days before the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, when hundreds of Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol shortly after Congress convened to confirm President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election.

The rioters, many of whom were spurred by Trump's repeated lies that the election had been rigged against him through widespread fraud, forced lawmakers to flee their chambers for safety, delaying the democratic procedure from being carried out.

"We believe that he was texting with the chief of staff, and that he has information that would be relevant to our committee," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., one of nine lawmakers on the bipartisan select panel, said Tuesday afternoon on MSNBC.

"He was more than a Fox Host. He was also a confidant, adviser, campaigner for the former president. And I would hope that if asked by the committee, as in fact he will be very soon, he would cooperate with us," Schiff said.

The committee, tasked with investigating the facts and causes of the Jan. 6 invasion, has issued subpoenas to dozens of Trump's current and former associates.