The Jan. 6 committee is squeaking out a few more interviews with key figures of the Trump White House before public hearings begin on June 9. This week, they met with the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.
According to CNN, the meeting went smoothly, lasting only a few hours, and Trump Jr. answered every question put forward. He reportedly did not invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, as many other Trump White House figures have done as the investigation has plowed forward.
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Trump Jr. is the latest family member to meet with the select committee. He appeared remotely. His sister, Ivanka Trump, met with the committee a month ago following a voluntary request for her cooperation. His fiancee, Kimberly Guilfoyle, appeared too, but only by the force of a subpoena.
Investigators first called for Guilfoyle to appear voluntarily and wished to question her about the role she played in allegedly raising huge sums of money alongside other top organizers of the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally.
That meeting did not go well as Guilfoyle was combative and refused to answer questions. A subpoena followed and Guilfoyle finally sat for a hearing two weeks ago.
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As for Trump Jr., a vocal proponent of his father’s conspiracies about fraud in the 2020 election, he was asked to meet with the probe because of his proximity to the president on Jan. 6.
Some of the committee’s insights about Trump’s radio silence in the White House during the insurrection have been fleshed out courtesy of records that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows provided before ending his cooperation altogether.
In one of those messages, Trump Jr. appeared harried as the mob, which included his father’s supporters, scaled the walls and police were desperately overwhelmed.
“He’s got to condemn this shit Asap. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,” Trump Jr. wrote on Jan. 6.
Trump had sent a handful of tweets after he delivered his more-than-hour-long speech at the Ellipse, where he whipped attendees into such a frenzy that many left and began marching toward the Capitol before he had finished.
And as the attack was unfolding, Trump hurled barbs at then-Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter and blasted him for not having the “courage to do what should have been done” to stop the “fraudulent” certification.
When he posted again 18 minutes later, Trump finally made a remark that resembled something like a call for peace.
“Please support our Capitol Police and Law enforcement. They are truly on the side of our people. Stay peaceful!"
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Trump Jr.’s anxiety on Jan. 6 was palpable, much like the vigor that he put into promoting his father’s disinformation about the results of the election.
In a different text message sent only two days after the election, Trump Jr. told Meadows he knew of a strategy that could help his father could stay in power even before audits of the results finished.
“it’s very simple. We have multiple paths. We control them all,” the Nov. 5 text to Meadows stated.
Trump Jr. pushed for alternate electors and told Meadows that even without the Trump electors in place, they could simply hold a vote on Jan. 6 to reinstall Trump. They had the “moral high ground,” he said.
“POTUS must start 2nd term now,” Trump Jr. wrote.
His attorney, Alan Futerfas, said the messages were a “forward.”
Regardless, the messages smacked of the same unconstitutional legal strategy that John Eastman, a conservative ally and attorney, hashed out in a six-point memo for Trump.
The select committee issued subpoenas to other Trump family members like Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband and a top adviser to the ex-president. Like Trump Jr., Kushner was reportedly affable and committee member Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat, described the interview as “helpful.”
Kushner, however, couched it in different terms afterward, effectively saying that he told his version of events accurately.
Select Committee Chair Bennie Thompson said Ivanka Trump—who also served as Trump’s adviser—corroborated some of the testimony already provided about what was happening inside of the White House during the attack.
“They kinda supported the fact that the president was told he had to do something to stop the Jan. 6 insurrection. That he had to be public with it. That he had to be direct,” Thompson told CNN on May 2.
Some of Trump Jr.’s advisers have been directly subpoenaed by the committee, including strategist Andy Surabian. Investigators demanded a sit-down with Surabian in January, citing his involvement with rally planners and fundraisers like Guilfoyle and others.
Arthur Schwartz, another strategist and adviser to Trump Jr., was subpoenaed for similar questions.
The former president’s children were reportedly willing to cooperate with the committee because they did not fear incriminating themselves.
Thompson said Monday he did not believe that the former president instructed his children to cooperate one way or another.