The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol wants Fox News host Sean Hannity to voluntarily cooperate with its investigation, citing newly released communications that it says show he had detailed discussions with the White House around the time of the attack.
“The Select Committee now has information in its possession … indicating that you had advance knowledge regarding President Trump’s and his legal team’s planning for January 6th. It also appears that you were expressing concerns and providing advice to the President and certain White House staff regarding that planning,” committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in a letter to Hannity that was made public Tuesday night.
“You also had relevant communications while the riot was underway, and in the days thereafter,” the letter goes on to say, adding that the panel has “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.”
The letter included what it described as a text Hannity sent to Meadows on Jan. 5, when he said he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.”
“It also appears from other text messages that you may have had a conversation directly with President Trump on the evening of January 5th (and perhaps at other times) regarding his planning for January 6th,” Thompson and Cheney wrote.
Another text message the committee released Tuesday showed that Hannity and Trump weren’t on the same page about Trump’s false claims that the election had been stolen from him.
“He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say,” Hannity said in a text to Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on Jan. 10, according to the letter.
Thompson and Cheney said they would also like to ask Hannity about “any conversations you had with Mr. Meadows or others about any effort to remove the President under the 25th Amendment.”
“We have no doubt that you love our country and respect our Constitution. Now is the time to step forward and serve the interests of your country,” they wrote.
Axios first reported that the committee would seek Hannity’s cooperation.
Asked for comment, a representative for Fox News referred to a statement Hannity lawyer Jay Sekulow gave to Axios. Sekulow told Axios that any request for cooperation “would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press.”
Hannity did not directly address the committee’s request on his show Tuesday evening; instead, he sharply criticized Democrats and the media, calling them “swamp creatures” and “sycophants.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Tuesday described Hannity’s close relationship with Trump.
“He has information that would be relevant to our committee. 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 … he would cooperate with us,” Schiff, a member of the Jan. 6 panel, told Hallie Jackson in an interview on MSNBC.
The committee has previously released text messages from Hannity to Meadows urging Trump to take action during the riot.
“Can he make a statement asking people to leave the Capitol?” Hannity asked in one message.
Hannity, who criticized the rioters on the night of attack, acknowledged having sent that text on his Dec. 14 show, saying it was “one of” the messages he sent to Meadows around that time. He then blasted the committee, saying the release of the messages was an invasion of privacy.
“I am an honest, straightforward person. I say the same thing in private that I say to all of you. Liz Cheney knows this. She doesn’t seem to care. She’s interested in one thing and one thing only — smearing Donald Trump and purging him from the party,” Hannity said on his show last month.
The committee also signaled Tuesday that it would like to speak with former Vice President Mike Pence, who officiated at the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6 and was among those who were evacuated when the violence erupted.
“We have not formally asked,” a committee spokesperson said Tuesday. “But if he offered, we’d gladly accept. Everything is under consideration.”
Pence hasn’t signaled whether he would cooperate, but some of his former aides have engaged with the House panel.
Thompson told CNN in an interview that aired Tuesday that he hopes Pence testifies “voluntarily.”
“I would hope that he would do the right thing and come forward and voluntarily talk to the committee,” Thompson said.