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Jan. 6 panel is asking former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for information

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks before former President Donald Trump at an America First Policy Institute agenda summit at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, July 26, 2022.
Andrew Harnik
/
AP
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks before former President Donald Trump at an America First Policy Institute agenda summit at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, July 26, 2022.

WASHINGTON — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is seeking information from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich about his communications with senior advisers to then-President Donald Trump in the days leading up to the 2021 attack on the Capitol.

The committee's chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, wrote in a letter sent to Gingrich on Thursday that the panel has obtained emails Gingrich exchanged with Trump's associates about television advertisements that "repeated and relied upon false claims about fraud in the 2020 election" and were designed to cast doubt on the voting after it had already taken place.

Thompson wrote that Gingrich also appeared to be involved in Trump's scheme to appoint fake electors and emailed Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, about those efforts on the evening of Jan. 6, after Trump supporters had attacked the Capitol.

"Information obtained by the Select Committee suggests that you provided detailed directives about the television advertisements that perpetuated false claims about fraud in the 2020 election, that you sought ways to expand the reach of this messaging, and that you were likely in direct conversations with President Trump about these efforts," Thompson wrote to Gingrich.

The request for Gingrich to cooperate voluntarily comes as the committee has been quietly continuing its investigation and preparing for a new set of hearings next month. Lawmakers and staff have been interviewing witnesses and compiling a final report in recent weeks after a series of hearings in June and July shed new light on Trump's actions before and after the deadly rioting — and his lack of a response as the violence was underway at the Capitol.

If he cooperates, Gingrich would be one of more than 1,000 witnesses interviewed by the committee, including dozens of Trump allies. The committee's eight hearings this summer featured not only live witness testimony but also clips of video interviews with some of the former president's closest aides, Cabinet secretaries and even family members. The panel is expected to resume the hearings in September, ahead of the midterm elections.

In the letter to Gingrich, Thompson said the former Georgia lawmaker exchanged emails with top Trump aides in which he provided "detailed input" into the television advertisements that encouraged members of the public to contact state officials and pressure them to overturn Trump's loss to Joe Biden. "To that end, these advertisements were intentionally aired in the days leading up to December 14, 2020, the day electors from each state met to cast their votes for president and vice president," Thompson wrote.

That came as Georgia election officials were facing intimidation and threats of violence.

In an Dec. 8, 2020, email to the White House aides, according to the committee, Gingrich wrote: "The goal is to arouse the country's anger through new verifiable information the American people have never seen before. ... If we inform the American people in a way they find convincing and it arouses their anger, they will then bring pressure on legislators and governors."

The panel also cited a Nov. 12, 2020, email from Gingrich, just days after the election, to Meadows and then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone: "Is someone in charge of coordinating all the electors? ... the contested electors must meet on (D)ecember 14 and send in ballots to force contests which the house would have to settle."

On the evening of Jan. 6, Gingrich wrote Meadows at 10:42 p.m., after the Capitol had been cleared and after Congress had resumed certifying Biden's win. He asked about letters from state legislators concerning "decertifying electors," the committee says.

"Surprisingly, the attack on Congress and the activities prescribed by the Constitution did not even pause your relentless pursuit," Thompson wrote.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press