Washington DC: In the latest Jan. 6 hearing, already standing out for its notable moments, Rep. Liz Cheney saved the most startling for last. In her closing remarks, the co-chair of the House investigating committee said the panel had learned that former President Donald Trump had recently tried to contact a witness whom “you have not yet seen in these hearings.”
The witness apparently recognized the caller ID and did not answer the phone, instead contacting a lawyer, who then told the committee. The committee in turn referred the matter to the Justice Department.
Though much remains uncertain about the call, including its purpose and the intended recipient, the way it was described Tuesday raised the prospect that Trump or someone close to him was hoping to shape witness testimony in the ongoing congressional hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
While the committee has focused largely on compiling a historical record of the attack and Trump’s role in it, Cheney’s assertions about the former president’s phone call added another layer to the inquiry.
It was not the first time the committee raised the possibility of witness tampering. Among its disclosures on that subject, last month the panel revealed that one witness had been contacted by someone it did not identify, reminding the person that they were perceived as “loyal” and would “do the right thing” at their deposition the next day. The Justice Department declined to comment on Cheney’s disclosure, and it was not clear whether prosecutors who are tracking the hearings might follow up on the outreach to witnesses.