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Key findings from the latest Jan. 6 panel transcripts, including from Donald Trump Jr. and others | CNN Politics


The House January 6 committee on Thursday released a new batch of transcripts, including interviews with Donald Trump Jr., former Trump White House aides and others.

The latest transcripts covered a range of topics and revealed new details from the January 6 committee’s investigation, including the former president’s son explaining a text message to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 election, insights into former first lady Melania Trump’s distrust of people in her husband’s inner circle and some of the chaos surrounding the law enforcement response to the rioters breaching the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

This new batch is part of a steady stream of transcript drops that the select committee has put out over the past week, complementing its sweeping 845-page report. The latest release comes as the panel winds down its work with the House majority set to change hands from Democrats to Republicans next week at the start of the new Congress.

So far, the released transcripts have provided illuminating insights into the final weeks of former President Donald Trump’s presidency, with accounts from inside the Trump White House, from federal and state officials who resisted pressure to overturn the 2020 election results, and many others.

Here are some of the highlights from Thursday’s disclosures:

Donald Trump Jr. told the committee that the reason he texted Meadows a detailed plan about how to ensure his father would get a second term two days after the 2020 presidential election was because he thought the ideas were “the most sophisticated” and “sounded plausible.”

Trump Jr.’s testimony, revealed by the select committee on Thursday, provides new context to a text message CNN first reported on in April where he lays out various ideas for keeping Trump in power by subverting the Electoral College process.

The November 5 text message outlines a strategy that is nearly identical to what allies of the former President attempted to carry out in the months that followed. Trump Jr. makes specific reference to filing lawsuits and advocating recounts to prevent certain swing states from certifying their results, as well as having a handful of Republican state houses put forward slates of fake “Trump electors.”

If all that failed, according to the Trump Jr. text, GOP lawmakers in Congress could simply vote to reinstall Trump as President on January 6, 2021.

“We have operational control Total leverage,” the message reads. “Moral High Ground POTUS must start 2nd term now.”

Although Trump Jr. said that he was not the original author of the text, a point his lawyer made to CNN back in April, and that he did not remember who the original author of the message was, he explained to investigators why out of all the messages he was being sent at the time, he felt this one was necessary to pass on to Meadows.

“Perhaps in reading it, it was the most sophisticated, you know, and detailed, and again, about things I don’t necessarily, you know, know too much about, but it sounded plausible and I wanted to make sure that we were looking into the issues brought up in the text,” Trump Jr. said.

Meadows did not initially respond to the original November 5 text, but when Trump Jr. followed up the next day to make sure he saw, Trump’s then-chief of staff texted, “much of this had merit. Working on this for PA, so Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina already.”

Donald Trump Jr. told the committee he couldn’t recall key details related to his appearance at a rally that preceded the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Trump Jr. said he didn’t know Turning Point Action paid him and his fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle $30,000 each for their appearances at the rally on the White House ellipse. He said he thought the money was for an event at the Palm Beach Hilton in December, according to a transcript released Thursday.

“My recollection was that we had spoken for them prior to Christmas at an event that we did annually and always got sort of paid for speaking fees to show up,” Trump Jr. said.

In transcripts of their interviews with the House select committee, Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle repeatedly said they didn’t recall details and distanced themselves from the events that led to the January 6 attack. Trump Jr. told committee investigators, “I don’t recall specifically,” when asked if he ever received the $30,000 and “I don’t know,” when asked if Guilfoyle ever ended up getting paid.

Throughout their testimony, Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle said they didn’t remember specific conversations about rally planning and that they were in the dark about the particulars as it was being put together.

Guilfoyle also denied having conversations with anyone linking the rally to objections to Congress certifying Joe Biden’s electoral win.

“I was not involved in any of that certification stuff. I couldn’t explain it to you to this day,” she said, adding that she didn’t know the significance of holding the rally on January 6.

After the 2020 election, Sen. Lindsey Graham pledged to become a “champion” of then-President Trump’s election fraud claims – if only Trump’s advisers would give him information about dead voters, according to an account given to the January 6 committee.

“Senator Graham was saying, ‘Get me your information,’” Trump lawyer Christina Bobb relayed to the committee about what Graham said in a meeting days before the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

“Just give me five dead voters,” Bobb said Graham told then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and others in Meadows’ office at the White House.

“Give me, you know, an example of illegals voting. Just give me a very small snapshot that I can take and champion,” Bobb added, relaying what Graham said at the time.

The exchange with Graham highlights how the South Carolina Republican became involved in Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn his election loss in Georgia, and how the White House at the time was connecting with influential politicians to advance Trump’s message of false election fraud claims.

“Graham was like, ‘Oh, I’d love to support the cause. I think it would be great to, you know, really show all the fraud. Send me a memo and show me, you know, what information you have got. I’ll champion it,’” Bobb also recalled from the conversation with Graham.

According to a transcript of Bobb’s House testimony released Thursday, Graham received a memo from the legal team working with Trump, titled “Chairman Graham dead votes memo for your consideration.”

But Bobb added: “He did nothing with it.”

Graham’s office pointed out on Thursday that the book “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa previously described a similar exchange between Graham and the Trump advisers. After receiving their memo, the senator was unconvinced of the fraud they claimed, the book said. His office didn’t provide any further response.

Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary and chief of staff to Melania Trump, said she learned from people inside the West Wing on January 6, 2021, that Trump thought the rioters “looked very trashy,” but reveled in how they were “fighting for him.”

Grisham told the committee: “I heard from several people in the West Wing, more on the military aide or Secret Service side, and then a couple just people, but that he was sitting in the dining room, and he was just watching it all unfold, and that a couple of his comments – some of his comments were that these people looked very trashy, but also look at what fighters they were.”

“He was kind of reveling in the fact that these people were fighting for him. But he also didn’t like how they looked,” Grisham said.

Grisham also detailed the former first lady’s distrust in people close to her husband after the 2020 election, including Donald Trump Jr.

“Certainly when it came to the kids, especially Don Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, she never trusted that they were doing things in the best interest of their – of Don Jr.’s father,” Grisham told the committee.

Grisham said Melania also distrusted “people that she thought were giving her husband bad advice,” like lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and campaign staffers. “She would say, I think they’re giving him bad advice, I don’t think this is smart.”

Chris Miller, who served as acting defense secretary at the end of the Trump administration, told the committee he thought the Washington, DC, mayor should have greater control of the DC National Guard in the wake of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Miller was asked in his January deposition about a proposal in Congress to give the Washington, DC, mayor the same authority to deploy the National Guard that a governor has. Because the District of Columbia is not a state, the authority to deploy is delegated to the Army secretary by the defense secretary and president.

Miller said of the DC mayor being given more authority over the Guard: “Being a private citizen, I’ll tell you exactly what I think, and take it or leave. Heck, yeah.”

“The mayor should absolutely have greater control over the DC National Guard,” he continued, according to a transcript released by the panel Thursday. “I do not know the history. And I’m sure there’s all sorts of reasons that are constitutional, way beyond what I understand, so I’m just kind of popping off, but there’s got to be a way to integrate her or the mayor into this process of work meaningfully and more proactively.”

Miller testified to the committee about the lag in getting National Guard soldiers to the Capitol on January 6, saying that he didn’t know why Major Gen. William Walker, the DC National Guard Commander, believed he didn’t have approval to deploy. According to the January 6 committee’s report, Walker “understood he had to wait for approval from Secretary (Ryan) McCarthy to deploy his forces. But as he waited on that video call for hours, he did strongly consider sending them anyway.”

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