Jan. 6 panel chair says 'significant testimony' shows White House 'had been told to do something'

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Jan. 6 House select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) gives an opening statement during a hearing to consider holding former Trump White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon in contempt of Congress on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.
Jan. 6 House select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) gives an opening statement during a hearing to consider holding former Trump White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon in contempt of Congress on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.


Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on Sunday said the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has "significant testimony" suggesting that the White House "had been told to do something" as the riot was taking place on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Asked by co-anchor Dana Bash on CNN's "State of the Union" if the Jan. 6 panel has learned more about what then-President Trump was or was not doing during the attack from witnesses testimony, Thompson, the committee's chairman, said, "Yes, we have."

"We have significant testimony that leads us to believe that the White House had been told to do something. We want to verify all of it so that when we produce our report and when we have the hearings the public will have an opportunity to see for themselves," he added.

Text messages submitted to the committee by Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and read aloud last month by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chairwoman of the committee, show a number of individuals, including Fox News personalities and Donald Trump Jr. pleading with Meadows to have the president condemn the violence.

In one message, the president's son told Meadows, "He's got to condemn this shit ASAP."

"I'm pushing it hard. I agree," Meadows responded.

In a separate text to Meadows, Trump Jr. wrote, "We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand."

Fox News's Laura Ingraham also reached out to Meadows, telling him, "Mark, president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy."

Brian Kilmeade, a "Fox & Friends" host, texted Meadows, "Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished."

Fox News host Sean Hannity also contacted the chief of staff, writing, "Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol."

Meadows, after Cheney publicly read the texts, said the messages sent by the Fox News hosts have been "weaponized" in an effort to cast Trump in a negative light.

He said the committee had "selectively leaked" the texts "to put out a narrative, quite frankly, that the president didn't act."

Both Hannity and Ingraham defended their statements about the attack after their text messages were revealed. Hannity said he would have said the same thing he texted Meadows in public, and Ingraham said, "Both publicly and privately I said what I believe: that the Jan. 6 breach at the Capitol was a terrible thing. Crimes were committed."

"Some people were unfairly hounded and persecuted, but it was not an insurrection. To say anything different is beyond dishonest and it ignores the facts of that day," she added.

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