The House Jan. 6 committee on Monday abruptly announced a surprise hearing for Tuesday despite previously pushing its schedule back to July.
The panel on Monday said it would hold a hearing Tuesday to “present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.”
The committee’s surprise witness is Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to Punchbowl News and other reports. Hutchinson, who had frequent contact with former President Donald Trump and his inner circle, was the main point of contact for lawmakers who sought pardons in connection to their involvement in the plot to overturn Trump’s loss on Jan. 6.
Hutchinson has already appeared in committee hearings in clips, listing members of Congress who asked her for pardons, and has testified before the committee four times, including once in the last 10 days, according to Punchbowl News.
Hutchinson has been “much more cooperative” with the committee since replacing attorney Stefan Passantino, a former Trump White House ethics lawyer, with Jody Hunt, a former chief of staff to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The committee moved up the hearing amid “sincere concerns” about Hutchinson’s “physical security because of what she knows and has revealed to the committee,” according to the report. Because of the concerns, members “felt they couldn’t wait until the House returns from recess in mid-July.”
Hutchinson since replacing her lawyer has emerged as a potential key witness in the committee’s investigation, having been “in the middle of almost everything that happened in the West Wing” leading up to the deadly riot, according to the report.
Hutchinson was in contact with Georgia officials during Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss in the state. Hutchinson also told the committee that Trump suggested to Meadows that he approved of the “hang Mike Pence” chants from his supporters at the Capitol, according to CNN. She also testified that she saw Meadows burn papers in his office after meeting with Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., ahead of Jan. 6., according to Politico.
Hutchinson in a clip of her deposition played at a recent hearing listed the members of Congress who sought pardons, including Perry and Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.; Mo Brooks, R-Ala.; Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
The committee is likely to ask about events they had hoped to interview Meadows about. Meadows refused to testify before the committee despite previously turning over thousands of text messages, including his interactions with lawmakers. The House voted last year to recommend contempt charges against Meadows but the Justice Department declined to charge him.
Hutchinson told the committee that she was well aware of the goings-on around the January 6 plotting in the White House.
“Almost all, if not all, meetings Mr. Trump had, I had insight on,” she told the panel in March, according to Politico.
Hutchinson told the committee that the White House counsel’s office told Meadows and former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that their plan to have “alternate” slates of electors meet and cast votes for Trump was illegal even as they continued with it anyway. She described conversations about “invoking martial law,” seizing voting machines, and appointing former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell as a special counsel — plans that got shot down after “it became clear that there would be mass resignations, including lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office.”
Hutchinson also testified that a Secret Service agent warned Meadows about the threat of violence on January 6.
While clips of her interviews have been played during the hearings, it’s unclear what Hutchinson will discuss on Tuesday and some members of the committee are also “in the dark about the urgency of the meeting,” according to Politico.
“BETTER BE A BIG DEAL,” tweeted former White House counsel John Dean, a key witness against Richard Nixon in the Watergate hearings. “There was only one surprise witness during the Senate Watergate Committee hearings. On July 16, 1973 an unannounced witness appeared: Alex Butterfield, who testified to Nixon’s secret taping system — forever changing history!”