For example, Sean Hannity was described as a member Trump's political advisory group. Hannity recommended that Trump tell his violent followers to leave the Capitol during the riot. This suggested that Hannity believed that Trump was at least partially responsible for the tragic developments, despite what he had shared with the public.
Yesterday, a conservative media personality was asked for an important request. NBC News reported the following overnight:
The House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol asks Fox News host Sean Hannity, who is currently under investigation by the committee, to cooperate with its investigation. It cites newly released communications which it claims show Hannity had extensive discussions with the White House at the time of the attack.
It is worth mentioning that Hannity has not been subpoenaed at this stage in the investigation process. Instead, the bipartisan select committee appealed to Hannity's sense of patriotism and asked that he agree to a transcript interview.
The request was sent by Liz Cheney and Democratic Chair Bennie Thomson to seek "voluntary cooperation" on a narrow range of facts. They did not request any information about "any of your broadcasts or your political views, or comment."
Why, you ask? Would congressional investigators have factual inquiries for Hannity about the events taking place inside the White House or on Capitol Hill? According to information provided to and by the committee, Hannity seemed to be an insider who spoke directly with the president and the White House chief of staff.
Yesterday's request stated that the Select Committee has information in its possession... which indicates that you knew about President Trump and his legal team's plans for January 6th. It appears that you were also providing advice and concerns to the President and certain White House staff about this planning. You had also received relevant communications during the riot and the days following. These communications are a fact witness to our investigation.
Particularly interesting was the reference to "fact witness". The First Amendment, freedom of press and constitutional issues around Hannity's outreach to the committee have been the subject of some interesting discussion. Critics of Fox News host have suggested that such legal protections should not apply since Hannity, when it came down to Team Trump was less of a journalist but more of an allied operative who helped guide his hand.
While this debate is interesting, it's not relevant to the Jan.6 committee. Investigators view Hannity as a citizen who witnessed important events. Congress is currently investigating these events and must ask those with relevant information questions.
Hannity would be a witness in a car accident. It wouldn't matter that Hannity is a journalist. Investigators of the crash would still need his cooperation. These same principles would apply.
Trump's role in the Jan. 6, attack on police officers is causing more police officers to sue him
In the committee's correspondence, Hannity also sent Meadows a text message on December 31, 2020. The host said, "We cannot lose the entire WH counsels' office." "I don't see January 6 happening in the manner he is telling me. After the 6th. He should declare that he will be leading the national effort to restore voting integrity. Watch Joe make mistakes every day in Florida. Stay engaged. People will listen when he speaks.
This message suggests that Hannity believed Trump was receiving bad advice. He preferred to see Trump leave the White House at the conclusion of his term rather than trying to reverse the results.
It is also important to note that the New Year's Eve text shows that Hannity knew of White House Counsel Office concerns about Jan. 6's scheme. This is directly relevant for the ongoing investigation.
Yesterday's letter included the following:
You also sent and received text messages on January 5, the night before the violent riot. You wrote, "I am very concerned about the next 48 hour." Why were you so concerned about the next 48-hours? You also texted Mr. Meadows on the evening January 5th: "Pence pressure." "WH Counsel will be leaving." What information or communications led you to believe that the White House Counsel would be leaving? What did you know exactly at the time?
The committee then referred to Hannity's direct conversations with Trump before and after the attack and his direct interactions with Meadows during and following the riot. This all shows that Hannity is a media personality with a unique perspective which would help the committee in its investigation.
Hannity sent Meadows a text message one week before Inauguration Day: "Guys. We have a clear pathway to land the airplane in 9 days." "He cannot mention the election again. Ever. I didn't have a good conversation with him today. Yesterday, Thompson and Cheney said that none of these communications are protected by privilege and that they all directly relate to the issues before our Committee.
The letter concluded that they had no doubt that they loved their country and respected our Constitution. This is the right time to act and protect the country's interests. We appreciate your cooperation and thank you for everything.
Hannity and his lawyer stated that they are "reviewing" this request. Keep an eye out for this.
Postscript: Let us note that Jay Sekulow is Hannity's attorney. Jay Sekulow was previously a member of Trump's legal staff and was known for leading a far-right legal organization created by Pat Robertson, radical televangelist. Sekulow's role in a highly questionable fundraising scheme that benefitted several members of his family has drawn unflattering attention.