By MARY CLARE JALONICK, FARNOUSH AMIRI and MICHAEL BALSAMO
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House panel investigating the Capitol insurrection will hear testimony Tuesday from Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide in Donald Trump’s White House who is a vital witness in the sweeping investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
Hutchinson, a special assistant and aide to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has already provided a trove of information to the committee and its investigators and sat for multiple interviews behind closed doors.
In brief excerpts of testimony revealed in court filings, Hutchinson told the committee she was in the room for White House meetings where challenges to the election were debated and discussed, including with Republican lawmakers.
The House panel has not explained why it abruptly scheduled the 1 p.m. hearing as lawmakers were away from Washington on a two-week recess. The committee had said last week that there would be no more hearings until July.
Hutchinson previously told the committee that Meadows had been advised of intelligence reports showing the potential for violence on Jan. 6 and that several Republican lawmakers who had been involved in efforts to reject the electoral tally or submit “fake electors” had sought pardons to avoid potential criminal prosecution.
Hutchinson also told the committee that Meadows and others working on Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election were told by the White House counsel’s office that a plan to use fake slates of electors as part of the president’s desperate effort to cling to power was “not legally sound,” according to court documents.
She has also detailed how Jeffrey Clark — a top Justice Department official who championed Trump’s false claims of election fraud and whom the president contemplated naming as attorney general — was a “frequent presence” at the White House. The plot to remove the then-acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, unraveled during a Jan. 3, 2021 meeting in the Oval Office when other senior Justice Department officials warned Trump that they would resign if he followed through with his plan to replace Rosen with Clark.
The precise subject of Tuesday’s hearing remained unclear, but the panel’s announcement Monday said it would be “to present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.” A spokesman for the panel declined to elaborate and Hutchinson’s lawyer did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
The person familiar with the committee’s plans to call Hutchinson could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The committee’s investigation has been ongoing during the hearings, which started three weeks ago, and the nine-member panel has continued to probe the attack by Trump supporters. Among other investigative evidence, the committee recently obtained new footage of Trump and his inner circle taken both before and after Jan. 6 from British filmmaker Alex Holder.
Holder said last week that he had complied with a congressional subpoena to turn over all the footage he shot in the final weeks of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, including exclusive interviews with Trump, his children and then-Vice President Mike Pence. The footage includes material from before the insurrection and afterward.
Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the panel’s Democratic chairman, told reporters last week that the committee was in possession of the footage and needed more time to go through the hours of video.
The panel has held five hearings so far, mostly laying out Trump’s pressure campaign on various institutions of power in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress, when hundreds of the Republican’s supporters violently pushed past police, broke into the building and interrupted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.
The committee has used the hearings to detail the pressure from Trump and his allies on Pence, on the states that were certifying Biden’s win, and on the Justice Department. The panel has used live interviews, video testimony of its private witness interviews and footage of the attack to detail what it has learned.
Lawmakers said last week that the two July hearings would focus on domestic extremists who breached the Capitol that day and on what Trump was doing as the violence unfolded.
For full coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege.