The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot revealed more exasperated texts between Sean Hannity and the Trump White House, and implored the Fox News host to cooperate with the ongoing probe.
Hannity enjoyed a close relationship with former President Donald Trump and his final Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. A week before the attack on the Capitol, the Fox News host expressed concerns about Trump’s plans to thwart a congressional certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
“We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office,” Hannity wrote to Meadows on Dec. 31, 2020, the House committee revealed on Tuesday. “I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6 th. 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.”
That message, the committee wrote to Hannity, “suggests that you had knowledge of concerns by Trump’s White House Counsel’s Office regarding the legality of the former President’s plans for January 6th.” Such information, the committee’s chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) wrote in their letter to the Fox Host, “are directly relevant to our inquiry.”
And on Jan. 5, 2021, the night before a violent attempt to overthrow the election, Hannity texted Meadows: “Im very worried about the next 48 hours.” The committee’s letter further asked the Fox News host: “why were you concerned about the next 48 hours?”
Other texts messages from that evening, the committee wrote, suggest Hannity had a personal conversation with Trump about his plans for attempting to overturn the 2020 vote.
Furthermore, the committee wrote, Hannity had a conversation with Trump in the days following the Capitol riots, and expressed to Meadows and MAGA loyalist Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) concerns about the president’s state of mind and possible actions he may take leading up to Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
“Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever,” Hannity wrote to the pair. “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 hit back at his loyal ally Hannity’s texts on Tuesday, telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, via a spokesperson, “I disagree with Sean on that statement and the facts are proving me right.”)
Given his text messages with Team Trump, the committee implored Hannity to appear as a “fact witness” in the investigation. “We cannot in good faith fail to question you on these and other specific issues,” Thompson and Cheney wrote. “We have no doubt that you love our country and respect our Constitution. Now is the time to step forward and serve the interests of your country. We thank you in advance for your cooperation.”
Appearing on CNN shortly before the committee’s letter went public, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said of Hannity: “We’ve asked him to cooperate with us as a fact witness out of his sense of patriotism, and we hope he will respond because we have so many of these texts and pieces of evidence indicating that he was outside of his role as a press person acting as a political operative.”
The committee’s request for Hannity to appear before them “raises serious First Amendment concerns,” said Jay Sekulow, a former top Trump lawyer and current attorney to Hannity, in a statement to The Daily Beast. He would not indicate whether the Fox star would decline the request. However, another person close to Hannity tersely told The Daily Beast on Tuesday: “Why would Sean cooperate with them?”
The Fox News host condemned the violence on Jan. 6 during his live broadcast that evening, but he has also repeatedly condemned the work of the House committee investigating the attack. When reached for comment, the network referred The Daily Beast to Sekulow’s comments on behalf of Hannity.
The investigation’s latest move comes on the heels of Cheney revealing contacts between Meadows and multiple Fox News hosts, including Hannity, by reading their texts aloud on the House floor. In one previously revealed text, the TV and talk radio star urged Meadows on Jan. 6: “Can he [Trump] make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.”
—With additional reporting by Zachary Petrizzo.