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Ivanka Trump asked to interview in Capitol riot inquiry

Senior White House adviser spoke to her father during crucial moments on Jan. 6

Ivanka Trump was asked to sit for an interview with the Jan. 6 select committee.
Ivanka Trump was asked to sit for an interview with the Jan. 6 select committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot is asking Ivanka Trump to voluntarily appear for an interview in February.

Ivanka, the daughter of former President Donald Trump, served as an adviser in the White House and spoke to her father during crucial moments on Jan. 6, according to accounts compiled by the committee. Trump made many attempts to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the electoral vote count, and Ivanka witnessed at least one side of Trump’s call with Pence the morning of Jan. 6.

Keith Kellogg, a national security adviser who was also present for the call in which Trump questioned Pence’s willingness to stop the count, testified to the committee that at the conclusion of the call, Ivanka told Kellogg “Mike Pence is a good man.”

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., in his letter extending the invitation to Ivanka, says the committee wants to discuss with her any other conversations she witnessed concerning Trump’s plan to prevent the counting of electoral votes. The panel is interested in learning if Ivanka knew of any legal conclusions from the White House counsel’s office that found Trump’s asking Pence to disregard or disrupt certification of electoral votes would violate the Constitution, and if those conclusions were shared with Trump.

In the days before the riot, according to the committee, a member of the Republican House Freedom Caucus with knowledge of Trump’s plans for Jan. 6, sent a message to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that said: “If POTUS [meaning President Trump] allows this to occur… we’re driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic.”

The committee wants to know if Ivanka discussed similar concerns with Meadows, Pence or his staff. A former senior White House official, who was in daily contact with Trump, was asked by the panel if Pence did the right thing on Jan. 6, and that person said “I believe, yes, it was the right thing to do.” Investigators want to know if Trump was apprised of these views by senior staff, lawyers on his campaign or others.

The committee retells that a riot was officially declared on Capitol Hill at 1:49 p.m. by D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, and that at 2:24 p.m., Trump sent out a tweet about Pence’s refusal to follow Trump’s request that said Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

Trump’s tweet spread through the crowd and rioters said the Pence news encouraged them, according to the panel. “Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like officially, the crowd went crazy,” one rioter said, according to the panel. “I mean, it became a mob. We crossed the gate.”

The panel wants information on talks inside the White House before and after the 2:24 p.m. tweet. The committee said it has testimony indicating members of the White House staff asked Ivanka’s help on multiple occasions to try to persuade Trump to address the violence at the Capitol.

Kellogg testified to the committee that he thought Ivanka could get Trump to do something to quell the violence in the midst of other unsuccessful attempts by staff. Kellogg also said Ivanka had to speak with Trump more than once to persuade him to act.

Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, Sean Hannity — all of Fox News — Donald Trump. Jr., members of Congress, the press and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were among those who tried to contact the White House to insist Trump appear in the media and tell the rioters to stop.

The committee said it is interested in why White House aides didn’t ask the president to appear on live television from the briefing room to ask the crowd to leave the Capitol. Kellogg testified that he recommended against Trump appearing immediately from the press room “because press conferences tend to get out of control, and you want to control the message.”

Trump filmed a video statement from the Rose Garden that went out at 4:17 p.m., in which he told rioters to leave, but did not condemn the violence. Trump said to the rioters “We love you, you’re very special.” The panel has asked for other takes that were taped but not used from the National Archives and Records Administration. The panel says information they have suggests Trump failed to ask the rioters to leave the Capitol in those initial takes.

At 6:01 p.m. Trump tweeted the following: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever.”

The committee is also evaluating whether Trump did or did not give any order to deploy the National Guard to respond to the attack and wants any information Ivanka has on it. The panel said it “has identified no evidence that President Trump issued any order, or took any other action, to deploy the guard that day. Nor does it appear that President Trump made any calls at all to the Department of Justice or any other law enforcement agency to request deployment of their personnel to the Capitol.”

Invite provides more detail about Hannity, others

The panel is also investigating Trump’s conduct after the insurrection, including his state of mind and whether he took appropriate action on continuing threats of violence. They have information suggesting White House staff and others were trying to persuade Trump to stop talking about whether the election was stolen, an effort Hannity had a role in.

On Jan. 7 Hannity texted White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggesting an approach for talks with Trump, including making two points that said, “No more stolen election talk” and “Yes, impeachment and 25 th amendment are real, and many people will quit.” McEnany replied “Love that. Thank you. That is the playbook. I will help reinforce.”

Hannity also texted McEnany, recommending Trump be kept away from certain people: “No more crazy people,” to which she responded: “Yes 100%.”

The committee wants to know more about any efforts made after the insurrection to persuade Trump to stay away from certain people and to stop saying the election was rigged.

Possible dates the panel suggested for an interview are Feb. 3, 4 or the week of Feb. 7.

The request for Ivanka to provide information to the committee comes a day after a large legal victory for the panel, in which the Supreme Court denied Trump’s request to stop some White House records from being sent to the committee.

Thompson said the committee will post the White House documents publicly, but doesn’t know when, because they need to review them first and they don’t know how many documents will be turned over yet.

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