White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was warned before Jan. 6, 2021, about the threat of violence that day as supporters of President Donald Trump planned to mass at the U.S. Capitol, according to new testimony released late Friday by the House committee investigating the insurrection.
One of Meadows’s top aides, Cassidy Hutchinson, told congressional investigators she recalled Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who also held the role of a political adviser at the White House, “coming in and saying that we had intel reports saying that there could potentially be violence on the 6th. And Mr. Meadows said: All right. Let’s talk about it.”
Hutchinson added, “I’m not sure if he — what he did with that information internally.”
Those details were in a filing arguing that a federal court should reject Meadows’s claims of executive privilege and compel him to appear before the House Jan. 6 committee, which is continuing to build a case that Trump knowingly misled his followers about the election, and pressured Pence to break the law in the weeks and hours before the assault.
In the motion, the committee outlines seven “discrete categories of information” about which it seeks to question Meadows and argues that his claims of executive privilege should not preclude his testifying about those matters.
Those categories of information include testimony and documents relating to communications with members of Congress; the plan to replace acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen with Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark; efforts by Trump to “direct, persuade or pressure then Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally refuse to count electoral votes on January 6th”; and activity in the White House “immediately before and during the events of January 6th.”
The committee laid out new examples of warnings Meadows received before Jan. 6, 2021, along with a deepened understanding of his involvement with planning and coordinating efforts to disrupt the counting of electoral college votes in Congress.
Perhaps the most significant new piece of evidence presented by the committee is testimony from Hutchinson, who told investigators that her boss was informed “before the January 6th proceeding about the potential for violence that day,” according to the filing.
Hutchinson told investigators: “I know that there were concerns brought forward to Mr. Meadows. I don’t know — I don’t want to speculate whether or not they perceived them as genuine concerns, but I know that people had brought information forward to him that had indicated that there could be violence on the 6th.”
Investigators also have found evidence that Meadows repeatedly communicated with GOP Reps. Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio) before and on Jan. 6, 2021. Hutchinson identified Perry, Jordan, and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) as the leading proponents in Congress “who were raising the idea of the Vice President doing anything other than just counting electoral votes on January the 6th.”
Asked by investigators whether Perry supported the idea of sending people to the U.S. Capitol on that day, Hutchinson replied that Perry did but that members who were present on a planning call ahead of Jan. 6 were “more inclined to go with White House guidance.”
Hutchinson also recounted a Dec. 21, 2020, strategy meeting at the White House ahead of the electoral certification attended by Jordan, Greene and Reps. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). Other GOP politicians dialed into the meeting, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
“They felt that he had the authority to — pardon me if my phrasing isn’t correct on this, but — send votes back to the States or the electors back to the States, more along the lines of the [John] Eastman theory,” Hutchinson said of the meeting, referring to a legal theory advanced by Eastman, a conservative lawyer.