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Trump stays ‘clear and present danger’ to American democracy, retired GOP judge tells panel

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Trump and his allies remain ‘clear and present danger,’ retired GOP judge tells panel

Michael Luttig, advisor to former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and a former U.S. federal judge, testifies in the course of the third of eight planned public hearings of the U.S. House Select Committee to analyze the January 6 Attack on america Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 16, 2022. 

Sarah Silbiger | Reuters

Retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig, who advised the previous vp within the buildup to the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, told the House committee investigating the attack that Trump and his allies remain a “clear and present danger” to U.S. democracy.

Luttig, a Republican, warned the committee that Trump stays a danger because the previous president has pledged to contest the following election for the White House in 2024 if Republicans don’t win.

“That is not due to what happened on January sixth,” Luttig said. “It’s because to this very day the previous president, his allies and supporters pledge that within the presidential election of 2024, if the previous president or his anointed successor because the Republican Party presidential candidate, were to lose that election, that they’d try to overturn that 2024 election in the identical way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election.”

Trump has not ruled out running for president again in 2024 after losing to President Joe Biden two years ago.

— Brian Schwartz

Eastman asked Giuliani to be added to presidential pardon list

Trump lawyer John Eastman (L) is shown on a screen during a hearing of the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2022.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Trump attorney John Eastman, who pushed for Pence to reject the 2020 election results, told former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he desired to be added to the list of presidential pardon recipients.

“I’ve decided that I ought to be on the pardon list, if that continues to be within the works,” Eastman wrote, in accordance with a screenshot of the e-mail displayed in the course of the panel’s third hearing.

The e-mail to Giuliani, who had helped spread an array of false election-fraud conspiracies, got here days after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the committee said.

The e-mail also got here after a conversation with White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, who said he told Eastman on Jan. 7, 2021, “I’m going to provide you one of the best free legal advice you are ever getting in your life: get an important effing criminal defense lawyer, you are going to need it.”

Eastman didn’t receive a pardon from Trump. The committee played a video clip of Eastman being questioned by the committee, showing the lawyer pleading his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination quite a few times.

Eastman ultimately pleaded the Fifth 100 times, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said.

— Kevin Breuninger

Former VP Mike Pence narrowly escaped death in Capitol riot on Jan. 6, committee says

U.S. former Vice President Mike Pence speaks on his phone in an underground parking garage of the U.S. Capitol complex as he refuses to get into his motorcade and be evacuated from the Capitol on January 6 in a video shown above, in the course of the third of eight planned public hearings of the U.S. House Select Committee to analyze the January 6 Attack on america Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 16, 2022. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The previous vp was inside almost 40 feet of rioters on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021, because the president initially did not deescalate the mob of Trump supporters from attacking the Capitol, in accordance with Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.

Aguilar, a member of the House Select Committee investigating that attack on the Capitol, testified that Pence’s life was at risk in the course of the riot.

“Make no mistake concerning the incontrovertible fact that the vp’s life was at risk. A recent court filing by the Department of Justice explains that a confidential informant from the Proud Boys told the FBI the Proud Boys would have killed Mike Pence if given a probability,” Aguilar said during Thursday’s hearing.

Despite the threat on his life, Pence’s former legal advisor Greg Jacob told the committee that the vp refused to go away the Capitol.

“The Vice President didn’t need to take any probability that the world would see the Vice President of america fleeing america Capitol,” Jacob said.

Images on a screen show former US Vice President Mike Pence being evacuated on January 6, 2021 from the US Capitol during a hearing of the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2022.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Trump called Pence ‘wimp’ and ‘the P word’ in ‘heated’ phone call on morning of Jan. 6, former White House aides said

U.S. former President Donald Trump appears on the video screen in the course of the third of eight planned public hearings of the U.S. House Select Committee to analyze the January 6 Attack on america Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 16, 2022. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Trump attacked his own vp as a “wimp” in a tense phone call with Pence on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, witnesses told the select committee.

“The conversation was, was pretty heated,” said Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who was within the Oval Office together with others who witnessed Trump’s call with Pence.

“It was a distinct tone than I had heard him take with the vp before,” Ivanka Trump said.

“I remember hearing the word ‘wimp,'” Trump’s former assistant Nicholas Luna said he heard the president say on the tail end of the decision. “‘Wimp’ is the word I remember.”

Gen. Keith Kellogg, Pence’s former national security advisor, told the committee he heard Trump say words to the effect of, “You are not tough enough to make the decision.”

Ivanka’s former chief of staff, Julia Radford, said that Trump’s daughter told her after the decision that the president had called Pence “the P word.”

— Kevin Breuninger

Eastman ‘never really believed his own theory’ that Pence could determine 2020 election, committee says

Attorney John Eastman gestures as he speaks next to U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, as Trump supporters gather ahead of the president’s speech to contest the certification by the U.S. Congress of the outcomes of the 2020 U.S. presidential election on the Ellipse in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.

Jim Bourg | Reuters

John Eastman, a lawyer advising former President Donald Trump, “never really believed his own theory” that then-Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally make a decisive impact on the final result of the 2020 race, a select committee member said.

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., displayed a draft letter to Trump dated October 2020, through which a theory was floated that, under the twelfth Amendment to the Structure, the vp could determine which electoral votes to count.

A picture of John Eastman is projected because the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol holds its third public hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2022.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

But that concept was undercut in the identical letter by Eastman, who wrote in blue text: “Nowhere does it suggest that the President of the Senate gets to make the determination on his own.”

Aguilar displayed the screenshot of the letter after Greg Jacob, former counsel to Pence, testified to the panel that Eastman admitted sooner or later before the Capitol riot that the idea can be rejected 9-0 if it went before the Supreme Court.

— Kevin Breuninger

Trump officials thought theory of Pence deciding the election was ‘nutty’ and ‘crazy,’ ex-Trump spokesman says

Video from an interview with Jason Miller, former President Trump Campaign Senior Advisor, is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January sixth Attack on the U.S. Capitol within the Cannon House Office Constructing on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Former Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said that multiple officials, including former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, had strong doubts concerning the theory that Pence had the facility to determine the election — and said so prior to Jan. 6.

“The best way it was communicated to me was that Pat Cipollone thought the concept was nutty and had at one point confronted [Trump lawyer John Eastman] with the identical sentiment,” Miller told the committee in an interview clip played in the course of the hearing.

Other officials near Trump thought Eastman’s theory “was crazy,” Miller said within the taped clip. Two of them said that “there was no validity to it in any way, shape or form” prior to the Capitol riot, and would tell “anyone who would listen,” Miller said.

— Kevin Breuninger

Ex-judge and Pence advisor accuses Trump of instigating a ‘war on democracy’

Michael Luttig, advisor to former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and a former U.S. federal judge attends the third of eight planned public hearings of the U.S. House Select Committee to analyze the January 6 Attack on america Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 16, 2022. 

Sarah Silbiger | Reuters

Retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig, who advised Vice President Mike Pence ahead of the Capitol riot, directly accused former President Donald Trump and his allies of waging a “war on democracy” on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Our democracy today is on a knife’s edge,” Luttig, a former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, said in a blistering witness statement shared with CNBC by the select committee.

Luttig, one among two witnesses to talk in the course of the committee’s third public hearing, excoriated efforts by Trump and other to overturn the 2020 election, saying that “treacherous plan was no less ambitious than to steal America’s democracy.”

Luttig’s sweeping, damning speech slammed Trump for spreading false election-fraud conspiracies to say he won the election, which he lost “fair and square” to President Joe Biden. And Luttig said it was “breathtaking” that Trump entertained meritless legal theories that were employed to attempt to reverse his election loss.

The previous judge, who was appointed to the U.S. appeals court by Republican former President George H.W. Bush, also took aim on the GOP itself. “The previous president’s party cynically and embarrassingly rationalizes January 6 as having been something between hallowed, legitimate public discourse and a visitors tour of the Capitol that got out of hand,” he said. “January 6, in fact, was neither, and the previous president and his party know that.”

Luttig also defended Pence, who rejected Trump’s demand that he refuse to count electoral votes for Joe Biden. “There have been many cowards on the battlefield on January 6. The Vice President was not amongst them,” Luttig said.

— Kevin Breuninger

‘There was no way’ Pence could pick the winner of the election, VP’s ex-counsel says

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s counsel Greg Jacob said “there was no way” that Pence had the legal authority to refuse to count electoral votes and, essentially, select the winner of the presidential election.

Jacob told the committee he first talked to Pence concerning the legal theory in within the month after the 2020 election, after the then-vice president to Trump began hearing and reading claims that he had a major role to play on Jan. 6, 2021.

After the relevant provision within the Structure’s twelfth Amendment, in addition to the Nineteenth-Century Electoral Count Act, Jacob and others found that the idea held no weight.

“We concluded that what you’ve got is a sentence within the Structure that’s inartfully drafted,” Jacob said. “However the vp’s first instinct when he heard this theory was that there was no way that our framers, who abhorred concentrated power, who had broken away from the tyranny of George the Third, would ever have put one person — particularly not a one who had a direct interest within the final result, because they were on the ticket for the election — in a task to have a decisive impact on the final result of the election.”

“Our review of text, history and, frankly, just common sense, all confirmed the vp’s first instinct on that time,” Jacob said. “There is no such thing as a justifiable basis to conclude that the vp has that sort of authority.”

— Kevin Breuninger

Pence’s courage on Jan. 6 ‘put him in tremendous danger,’ Thompson says

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence presides over a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Saul Loeb | Getty Images

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said that the U.S. is “fortunate for Mr. Pence’s courage on January 6,” when the then-vice president refused Trump’s calls for him to reject Electoral College votes.

Trump “wanted Pence to reject the votes and either declare Trump the winner or send the votes back to the states to be counted again,” Thompson said in the beginning of the hearing. “Mike Pence said no.”

“Our democracy got here dangerously near catastrophe. That courage put [Pence] in tremendous danger” when Trump “turned the mob on him,” Thompson said.

— Kevin Breuninger

Pence advisors are scheduled to testify

Former Counsel to Vice President Mike Pence, Greg Jacob (L), and Retired judge and and informal advisor to Vice President Mike Pence, J. Michael Luttig (R), arrive to testify in the course of the third hearing of the US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2022.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

The select committee is predicted to feature a mixture of live witnesses and pre-taped interviews just like the first two hearings, with two of Pence’s former advisors scheduled to testify in person.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and its vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., are also expected to talk. Cheney suggested last week that the actions of attorney John Eastman, who was advising Trump on the election, will play a distinguished role within the hearing.

Two associates of Pence are slated to testify in person on Thursday. The primary is Greg Jacob, former counsel to the vp, who in an email on the day of the riot told Eastman, “Because of your bullshit, we are actually under siege.”

The opposite witness is J. Michael Luttig, a retired judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit who had been an off-the-cuff advisor to Pence within the lead-up to Jan. 6.

Committee member Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., is predicted to take a lead in Thursday’s hearing.

— Kevin Breuninger

Jan. 6 probe will ask Supreme Court justice’s wife Ginni Thomas to testify ‘sooner or later,’ chairman says

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 21: (L-R) Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits along with his wife and conservative activist Virginia Thomas while he waits to talk on the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Select committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., revealed that the panel will ask Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to talk with congressional investigators.

Ginni Thomas has come under intense scrutiny in recent months following reporting on her efforts to challenge the 2020 election results — including by sending a series of frantic texts to then-President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows.

“We expect it is time that we’d, sooner or later, invite her to return discuss with the committee,” Thompson told a gaggle of journalists Thursday morning, NBC News and other outlets reported.

Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., agrees that the committee should discuss with Ginni Thomas, a Cheney aide told CNBC.

The forthcoming invitation relies on “information we’ve got come upon” concerning the conservative justice’s spouse, Thompson reportedly said. He didn’t specify when the committee planned to send its invitation.

A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court didn’t immediately reply to CNBC’s request for comment.

— Kevin Breuninger

Pence’s response takes center stage at third hearing

On this image from video, Vice President Mike Pence speaks because the Senate reconvenes after protesters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

Senate Television via AP

Select committee aides told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that the most recent hearing will delve into one among Trump’s theories — rejected by most top legal minds and ultimately by Pence himself — that the vp could unilaterally refuse to count Electoral College votes from disputed states.

Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, was tasked with presiding over a joint session of Congress to substantiate the Electoral College results. He stoked Trump’s fury when he said in a letter just before the proceedings that he cannot claim “unilateral authority” to throw out electoral votes.

The nine-member committee will plans to point out how Trump heaped pressure on Pence to follow this theory, and the way that helped stoke the Capitol riot and “put Pence’s life at risk,” an aide said. The panel can also be expected to unveil latest material documenting Pence’s moves on the Capitol because the rebellion was unfolding.

— Kevin Breuninger

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