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House January 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to speak with them

January 6 panel seeks Ivanka Trump's cooperation
January 6 panel seeks Ivanka Trump's cooperation 01:42

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is asking former President Trump's daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump to speak with them. 

In a letter to Ivanka Trump requesting the interview, the committee chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, notes that she was with her father in the White House on January 6 and was present in the Oval Office during a phone conversation he had with Vice President Mike Pence that morning.

Thompson told reporters before the letter was released publicly that "you will anticipate the committee inviting some people to come talk to us." Asked whether those requests would be made to lawmakers, Thompson said, "not lawmakers right now. Ivanka Trump."

A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump said in a statement she "just learned that the January 6 Committee issued a public letter asking her to appear. As the committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally. As she publicly stated that day at 3:15pm, 'any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Please be peaceful.'"

The letter cites a phone conversation Trump had with Pence on the morning of January 6 in the Oval Office, for which Ivanka Trump was present. Thompson said Keith Kellogg, Pence's national security adviser, was also there for the call and he told the select committee he recalled the former president encouraging Pence to reject states' electoral votes during the joint session of Congress or delay the counting of votes.

Capitol Riot Investigation
Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser to President Donald Trump, waves to supporters during a campaign event Nov. 2, 2020, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, in Des Moines, Iowa.  Charlie Neibergall / AP

Kellogg, according to Thompson's letter, testified that Ivanka Trump turned to him at the end of the call and said, "Mike Pence is a good man."

Trump's call with Pence is among the items the committee said it wants to discuss with Ivanka Trump, as well as other conversations she may have witnessed or participated in regarding her father's plan to "obstruct or impede the counting of electoral votes."

Thompson also said House investigators have documents suggesting Trump's White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, "may have concluded" that Pence rejecting or delaying the counting of state electoral votes "would violate the Constitution or would be otherwise illegal."

"Did you discuss those issues with any member of the White House counsel's office? To your knowledge, were any such legal conclusions shared with President Trump?" the chairman asked.

He also referenced a message from an unnamed member of the House Freedom Caucus, a coalition of conservative lawmakers, sent to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows before January 6 that warned "If POTUS allows this to occur … we're driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic."

"Did you discuss that or similar concerns with the White House chief of staff?" Thompson wrote to Ivanka Trump. "Or with the vice president or his staff?"

Shifting to Trump's response to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, Thompson said House investigators are seeking to glean more information about discussions inside the White House and with the president before and after a tweet claiming, "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution."

Thompson said the panel obtained testimony indicating White House staff sought Ivanka Trump's assistance several times "to intervene in an attempt to persuade President Trump to address the ongoing lawlessness and violence" at the Capitol. 

Kellogg also told the committee that White House staff wanted Trump to "take some immediate action to quell the unrest," according to Thompson's letter, though the president was "stubborn" and staff believed his daughter could push him to act, according to one account.

Thompson referenced testimony in which Ivanka Trump agreed to speak with the president but was forced to make multiple attempts to persuade him.

According to one text exchange with an unnamed White House staff member obtained by the committee, the aide received a message asking, "Is someone getting to potus? He has to tell protestors to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed."

The White House staff member replied: "I've been trying for the last 30 minutes. Literally stormed in outer oval to get him to put out the first one. It's completely insane."

"We are particularly interested in this question: Why didn't White House staff simply ask the president to walk to the briefing room and appeal on live television — to ask the crowd to leave the Capitol?" Thompson told Ivanka Trump in the letter.

Kellogg told the committee he advised against Trump appearing in the White House briefing room, as "press conferences tend to get out of control, and they want to control the message," according to the January 6 panel.

"Apparently, certain White House staff believed that a live unscripted press appearance by the president in the midst of the Capitol Hill violence could have made the situation worse," Thompson wrote.

The select committee is also examining whether Trump gave an order to deploy the National Guard to assist with responding to the violence at the Capitol on January 6, the chair said.

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller told the panel under oath that the president never contacted him at any point on January 6th, and never issued him any order to deploy the National Guard. Miller said he did speak with Pence that day, Thompson's letter said.

"The committee has identified no evidence that President Trump issued any order, or took any other action, to deploy the guard that day," he told Ivanka Trump. "Nor does it appear that President Trump made any calls at all to the Department of Justice or any other law enforcement agency to request deployment of their personnel to the Capitol."

Regarding Trump's activities following the Capitol assault, Thompson said the select committee has information indicating White House staff and others were trying to get the president to stop making statements about a "stolen election" and working with allies of the president outside the White House to buoy their efforts.

According to text messages from Fox News host Sean Hannity obtained by the committee, Hannity texted White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on January 7 laying out a multi-pronged approach for conversations with Trump. McEnany spoke to the committee earlier this month. 

The first two items of Hannity's plan were: "1-No more stolen election talk" and "2-Yes, impeachment and 25 th amendment are real, and many people will quit. …" Thompson revealed in his letter to Ivanka Trump.

McEnany replied, "Love that. Thank you. That is the playbook. I will help reinforce." 

Hannity, according to documents obtained by the January 6 panel, also texted McEnany "Key now. No more crazy people," to which she replied, "Yes 100%."

"The select committee would like to discuss this effort after January 6th to persuade President Trump not to associate himself with certain people, and to avoid further discussion regarding election fraud allegations," Thompson told Ivanka Trump in the letter. 

Earlier this week, Thompson confirmed the committed had requested "certain data records" from Trump's son Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.'s fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle but he stopped short of calling it a subpoena. 

Guilfoyle's attorney responded that they "know nothing of a subpoena, but it is of no consequence to her because she has absolutely nothing to hide or be concerned about." 

The committee issued subpoenas this week to top Trump allies Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Boris Epshteyn, who all sought to overturn the 2020 election results.

Thompson said "we are optimistic that more cooperation from witnesses will be coming" in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision Wednesday not to block the release of records from the Trump White House, which are held by the National Archives, to the committee.

Thompson said last week the committee has issued more than 80 subpoenas, including to Trump's allies, former White House officials, campaign aides and individuals involved in the planning of the rally outside the White House before the Capitol building came under siege.

Two top Trump allies, Bannon and Meadows, have been held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas, and the Justice Department has charged Bannon. Both said they are following instructions from Trump, who has claimed executive privilege. 

The House select committee, created by Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year, is investigating the January 6 attack, when thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol as Congress counted the electoral votes, a largely ceremonial final step affirming Mr. Biden's victory. Lawmakers were sent fleeing amid the riot, which led to the deaths of five people and the arrests of hundreds more. Trump, who encouraged his supporters to "walk over" to the Capitol during the Stop the Steal rally, was impeached by the House one week later for inciting the riot but was later acquitted by the Senate.

Zak Hudak and Ellis Kim contributed to this report. 

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