In its first public hearing, the January 6 committee mocked that several Republican lawmakers had apologized to then-President Donald Trump for his role in the effort to nullify the 2020 election.
On Thursday, the panel named names and offered specific details about how those requests were made.
The list included Trump’s closest allies in Congress: Republican Representatives Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Perry and Biggs denied apologizing.
Five days after the attack on Capitol Hill, Brooks sent an email to White House officials with the subject line: “Sorry.”
Brooks said Trump had directed him to send the letter and that it was “pursuant to a request” by Gaetz for pardons for those two and other lawmakers.
“I recommend that the President grant blanket pardons (for all purposes) to the following groups of people: … Every Congressman and Senator who voted to reject the Electoral College vote submissions from Arizona and Pennsylvania,” Brooks wrote to the House. White.
On January 6, 2021, 127 Republicans voted to challenge the results of the Arizona election; 145 Republicans voted to oppose the Pennsylvania results.
A Trump White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, said he specifically recalled Gaetz seeking clemency.
“The general tone was: We can be prosecuted because we were defensive, you know, of the president’s positions on these things,” Herschmann said in taped testimony played during Thursday’s hearing. “The forgiveness that he discussed, that he asked for, was as broad as can be described. …
“He mentioned Nixon. And I said Nixon’s pardon was never that broad.”
Another Trump White House official, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that the group of conservative lawmakers seeking pardons was made up largely of the same people who attended a now-infamous December 21, 2020 White House meeting with Trump. and his chief of staff. , Mark Meadows, a former member of Congress, as they strategized to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory and keep Trump in power.
In recorded testimony, Hutchinson mentioned several lawmakers by name, including Gaetz, Brooks, Biggs and Gohmert.
Another, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, “talked about pardons from Congress, but he never asked me for one,” Hutchinson testified.
Instead, he said, “it was more for an update on whether the White House was going to pardon members of Congress.”
Jordan was the face of Trump’s defense in Congress during his two impeachment proceedings. Nearly all are members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, formerly led by Meadows and closely aligned with Trump.
Hutchinson testified that Perry, who played a key role in Trump’s election plot, also asked for a pardon; Greene, who had said that Jan. 6 was “our moment in 1776,” apologized to then-Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin, Hutchinson said.
John McEntee, who was Trump’s White House staff director, testified in an earlier statement about discussions of a blanket pardon for members of the Trump family and anyone else involved in the Jan. 6 incident.
“Umm, I know. [Trump] he had hinted at a blanket apology for Jan. 6 for anyone,” McEntee said, “but I think he did for all staff and anyone involved.”
Revelations that more than a half-dozen Republican lawmakers sought Trump’s presidential pardon suggest they were aware they were potentially breaking the law, committee members argued.
“The only reason I know of to ask for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, a Trump critic who played a prominent role in Thursday’s hearing.
In an earlier hearing, the January 6 panel revealed that conservative attorney John Eastman, the architect of Trump’s effort to nullify the election, had also sought a pardon from the president.
Neither Eastman nor any of the Republican lawmakers ultimately won pardons.
Perry said in a statement that he never apologized to himself or other lawmakers.
“At no time did I speak with Ms. Hutchinson, a White House programmer, or any White House staff member about a pardon for myself or any other member of Congress; this never happened,” she said.
Biggs said in a statement He posted on Twitter Thursday night that the Jan. 6 committee “continues to persecute me with the false charge that I sought a presidential pardon.”
“To the extent that Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House staffer, believes that I requested a presidential pardon, she is wrong,” Biggs said.
When asked for comment, a Gaetz spokesperson pointed to a tweet by Gaetz: “The January 6th Committee is an unconstitutional political show.”
When the hearing ended, Brooks released a statement saying he would voluntarily testify before the panel if five conditions are met, including that his testimony be made public and that only members of Congress can ask questions.
After the hearing, Greene tweeted the clip of Hutchinson saying that he had heard that he had asked for a pardon.
“Saying ‘I heard’ means you don’t know,” Greene said. “Spreading gossip and lies is exactly what the January 6 Witch Hunting Committee is all about.”
Greene later tweeted: “You know who needs to be pardoned? Julian Assange and Edward @Snowden.”
Assange faces extradition to the United States to stand trial on federal charges for publishing classified documents. Snowden remains in Russia, where he was granted asylum, after he fled there after leaking classified documents.