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Fox News host Sean Hannity was concerned about former President Donald Trump’s strategy and conduct before, during and after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, according to a letter sent to him on Tuesday by the House select committee probing the insurrection.
The committee asked Hannity for his voluntary cooperation with its investigation, noting it had received “dozens” of his text messages sent to and from former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that indicate that he had “advance knowledge regarding President Trump’s and his legal team’s planning for January 6th.” In the letter, the panel said it wants to speak with Hannity specifically about his communications with Trump, White House staff and his legal team between December 31, 2020, and January 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden was inaugurated.
Hannity’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, told CNN, “We are reviewing the committee’s letter and will respond as appropriate.”
The committee said it has text messages from Hannity pushing back on the plan to urge Congress to challenge the certification of the election on January 6 and urging Trump to prepare for his departure from office.
On January 5, Hannity wrote that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.”
In its letter the committee asked Hannity, “With the counting of the electoral votes scheduled for January 6th at 1 p.m., why were you concerned about the next 48 hours?
The committee also cited a separate December 31, 2020, exchange in which Hannity wrote to Meadows, “We can’t lose the entire WH counsel’s office. I do not see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”
The committee said it appeared that Hannity has “detailed knowledge regarding President Trump’s state of mind,” and engaged with the former President numerous times. The committee noted that Hannity spoke directly with Trump on January 5 about “his planning for January 6th” and on January 10, when Hannity “may have raised a number of specific concerns about his possible actions in the days before the January 20th inaugural.”
The committee referenced messages from January 10 that Hannity sent to Meadows and Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan: “Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”
Trump told CNN in a statement Tuesday evening, “I disagree with Sean on that statement and the facts are proving me right.”
In a text to Meadows on January 5, Hannity wrote that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours” and referred to then-Vice President Mike Pence, who oversaw the certification of the 2020 election, saying: “Pence Pressure. WH counsel will leave.”
And on January 6, Hannity urged Meadows to tell Trump he should “ask people to peacefully leave the [C]apit[o]l.”
Before sending its letter, the committee revealed it had text messages from Hannity to Meadows on the day of the attack, calling for Trump to take action.
According to the previously released text, Hannity said to Meadows: “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?”
In its letter, the panel also made clear that it wants to learn more about the communications Hannity had as the riot was underway.”We are aware of and interested in your communications to Mr. Meadows and others during the violent attack on January 6th, as the rioters were attempting to occupy the Capitol building,” the letter reads, specifically referencing a text message sent to Meadows about “a potential effort by members of President Trump’s cabinet to remove him from office under the 25th Amendment.”
The committee made clear that its questions for Hannity are narrowly focused on those topics and do not address his public broadcasts.
Hannity was not the only Fox News host urging Meadows to get Trump to take action.
According to documents on file, the committee has a message from Laura Ingraham to Meadows saying, ” ‘Mark, the President needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade texted Meadows stating, “‘Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.”
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who serves as vice chairwoman of the panel, revealed the text messages last month when the committee was going through its process of holding Meadows for a possible charge of criminal contempt of Congress.
“Indeed, according to the records, multiple Fox News hosts knew the President needed to act immediately,” Cheney said then. “They texted Mr. Meadows, and he has turned over those texts.”
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Gloria Borger contributed to this report.