Jan. 6 panel seeks testimony from Ivanka Trump about her father's actions
WASHINGTON - The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol has requested voluntary testimony from Ivanka Trump, saying in a letter sent Thursday that witnesses have told investigators that she may have direct knowledge of President Donald Trump's actions before, during and after his supporters attempted to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as president that day.
The request from committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the former White House adviser was present when her father pressured Vice President Mike Pence to reject Biden's victory when he presided over the electoral vote count in the Capitol last year.
"The Committee would like to discuss any other conversations you may have witnessed or participated in regarding the President's plan to obstruct or impede the counting of electoral votes," Thompson wrote.
The committee also said it has information that Ivanka Trump was enlisted by White House aides to get her father to call off his supporters while they were ransacking the Capitol.
In addition, Thompson said the panel wants to speak with her about what she knows about whether her father sought to deploy or block the deployment of the National Guard in response to the attack.
Finally, Thompson said the panel seeks Ivanka Trump's account of what the president was doing in the days after the attack, "including whether the President took appropriate action regarding the continuing threats of violence."
"The Committee has information suggesting that White House staff and others were attempting to persuade President Trump to halt his statements regarding a 'stolen election' and were working directly with other supporters outside the White House in an effort to persuade President Trump to do so," he wrote.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Ivanka Trump said she had just learned of the letter and noted that she did not speak at the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol - a question that was not part of the committee's inquiry.
"As the Committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally. As she publicly stated that day at 3:15pm, 'any security breach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Please be peaceful,' " the statement read.
The committee's letter to Ivanka Trump is further evidence of how intently the panel is focusing on the former president's role in the attack and shows that several former White House aides are voluntarily cooperating with its inquiry even as others have refused to testify.
It comes the day after the Supreme Court ruled against Trump in his effort to block transmission of hundreds of White House documents the committee had sought. The letter also marks the second time this week that Trump's children have been targeted in a government investigation. New York Attorney General Letitia James earlier filed a motion in her inquiry into Trump business activities. In a news release, she specified that she was seeking testimony from Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. in the case.
The congressional committee has previously sought information from advisers to Donald Trump Jr. But the questions to Ivanka Trump in the eight-page letter contained among the most detailed, revealing information the committee has obtained from other witnesses.
For example, the letter seeks Ivanka Trump's testimony regarding one of Trump's phone conversations with Pence on the morning of Jan. 6.
"You were present in the Oval Office and observed at least one side of that telephone conversation," according to the letter, which then cites testimony from Keith Kellogg, Pence's former national security adviser.
The committee asked Kellogg: "It's been reported that the President said to the Vice President ... 'you don't have the courage to make a hard decision.' And maybe not those exact words but something like that. Do you remember anything like that?"
"Words - and I don't remember exactly either, but something like that, yeah," Kellogg responded, according to the letter. "Being like you're not tough enough to make the call."
According to Kellogg, Ivanka Trump turned to him at the close of the call and said, "Mike Pence is a good man."
Similar specific references occurred at other points in the letter, such as when Ivanka Trump is asked to discuss any other conversations she witnessed or participated in regarding Trump's plan to obstruct or impede the electoral certification.
"For example, the Committee has information suggesting that President Trump's White House Counsel may have concluded that the actions President Trump directed Vice President Pence to take would violate the Constitution or would be otherwise illegal," according to Thompson's letter.
In his letter, Thompson also outlines the committee's interest in discussions that happened "inside the White House and with the President before and after his 2:24 p.m. tweet" that slammed Pence for not having "the courage" to block the electoral vote. Testimony from Kellogg indicates that Ivanka Trump agreed to speak to the president about taking action to try to quell the violence but that she "had to make multiple efforts to persuade Trump to act."
"He didn't say yes to Mark Meadows or Kayleigh McEnany or Keith Kellogg, but he might say yes to his daughter?," the committee asked Kellogg, according to Thompson's letter.
"Exactly right," Kellogg replied.
"And so presumably, the first time she [Ivanka Trump] went in, it wasn't sufficient or she wouldn't have had to go back at least one more time, I assume. Is that correct," the committee asked Kellogg in a follow-up question.
"Well, yes, Ma'am. I think she went back there because Ivanka can be pretty tenacious," Kellogg replied.
Thompson writes that the committee is "particularly interested" in answering the question of why White House staff didn't "simply ask the President to walk to the briefing room and appear on live television - to ask the crowd to leave the Capitol?"
In his testimony, Kellogg answered that he "very strongly recommended" against asking Trump to do so because "press conferences tend to get out of control, and you want to control the message."
"Apparently, certain White House staff believed that a live unscripted press appearance by the President in the midst of the Capitol Hill violence could have made the situation worse," the committee concluded from Kellogg's testimony.
Ivanka Trump has long been known as an influential adviser to her father. She was at the White House all day on Jan. 6, while her husband, Jared Kushner, came in later.
In an interview last year, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that during the siege he did not call Trump but instead called Ivanka Trump, thinking she could be the one to help. She told Graham, according to his recollection, that she was trying to get Trump to make a statement.
In addition to Graham, The Washington Post has reported that Ivanka Trump was called several times on Jan. 6 by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who told her as she shuttled to the second floor of the White House: "I need you to come back down here. We've got to get this under control."
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