Jan. 6 Lawmakers Tease New Witnesses After Hutchinson Testimony

(Bloomberg) -- Members of the House committee investigating the US Capitol attack by supporters of Donald Trump promised further revelations, after an ex-White House staffer portrayed the former president’s outbursts of rage.

Most Read from Bloomberg

“We are following additional leads,” Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “I think those leads will lead to new testimony.”

Witnesses being sought include former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, whom the committee has subpoenaed to appear Wednesday for closed-door questioning.

Committee members view Cipollone as a central figure in the dramatic moments before, during and after the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson cited what she said were legal concerns by Cipollone during her testimony last week.

“We’re in discussions with Mr. Cipollone’s counsel,” Schiff said. “I’m hopeful that we can work out bringing him in for testimony.” It’s “hard to imagine someone more at the center of things,” he said.

Cipollone can’t use a blanket claim of executive privilege to snub a subpoena to testify to the House committee investigating last year’s attack on the US Capitol, committee member Representative Zoe Lofgren said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“That’s not an absolute immunity,” the California Democrat said. “It falls when there is something more important, and that is true in this case.”

Schiff said the next hearing will focus “on the efforts to assemble that mob on the mall, who was participating, who was financing it, how it was organized, including the participation of these white nationalist groups like the Proud Boys and Three Percenters and others.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the panel, said Hutchinson’s testimony had prompted additional witnesses to come forward.

“There will be way more information -- and stay tuned,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

In her testimony, Hutchinson said Cipollone urged her to make sure Trump wouldn’t go to the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 with his supporters, some known to be armed, warning that, “We’re going to get charges of every crime imaginable if we make that movement.”

Cipollone has talked informally with the panel, Lofgren said. The committee wants to obtain his first-hand testimony in usable form, including about his warnings, also to Trump aides, that an effort to block Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory was “unlawful.”

“After Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony that was so informative, it’s very clear that we would like him to come in,” Lofgren said.

DOJ Tensions

Lofgren also took a swipe at the Justice Department when asked about a New York Times report that federal prosecutors felt blindsided by not being given video or transcripts of Hutchinson’s closed-door testimony before her public hearing appearance last week.

Hutchinson previously sat for four closed-door interviews that were widely reported, and the department could have subpoenaed her, Lofgren said.

“I was surprised that the prosecutors were surprised. What are they doing over there?” Lofgren said, underscoring running tension between the congressional panel and the department, which is conducting its own investigations.

Schiff said the Justice Department shouldn’t shy away from considering criminal charges against Trump.

“For four years, the Justice Department took the position that you can’t indict a sitting president,” he said on CBS. “If the department were now to take the position that you can’t investigate or indict a former president, then a president becomes above the law. That’s a very dangerous idea that the founders would never subscribe to.”

(Adds to Kinzinger’s comment in 10th paragraph. A previous version corrected the name of the show that interviewed Lofgren.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.