Jan. 6 panel urges Stephen Miller on whether Trump sought to incite mob

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack spent about eight hours Thursday interviewing Stephen Miller, a top White Ho...


The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack spent about eight hours Thursday interviewing Stephen Miller, a top White House adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, in a sometimes contentious exchange that included questions about Mr. Trump’s speech before a crowd on the morning of the riot, according to two people familiar with the session.

Investigators repeatedly questioned Mr. Miller about the use of the word “we” throughout Mr. Trump’s speech on the Ellipse, outside the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, the people said, in a an apparent effort to determine whether the former president had ordered his supporters to join him in taking action to prevent Congress from certifying his defeat. Mr. Miller argued that the language was no different from any other political speech.

Mr. Miller was Mr. Trump’s top domestic policy adviser and chief speechwriter. He is the latest former White House official to appear before the committee, a day after former White House attorney Pat A. Cipollone and his deputy, Patrick F. Philbin, appeared. Mr Miller was subpoenaed in November 2021 but fought off panel efforts to get information from him, only appearing after a lengthy negotiation with committee officials.

Mr. Miller did not respond to a message seeking comment. But the two people familiar with his appearance, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the confidential interview, described the session as sometimes stormy. Mr Miller claimed executive privilege when asked about his discussions with Mr Trump, including a phone call White House records show he had with the former president in the morning of January 6, said one of the people.

Among the more controversial exchanges was a draft of the speech Mr. Trump gave that morning at a so-called Stop the Steal rally near the White House. Thousands of rally attendees marched from that event to the Capitol, where they stormed the building just as Congress was convening to formalize the victory of the Electoral College of Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Trump repeatedly used the word “we” in his remarks that day. “We won’t take it anymore, and that’s what it’s all about,” Trump said. “And to use a favorite term that you all really found: we’ll stop the theft.”

Mr Miller refuted the implication that the word ‘we’ indicated Mr Trump was trying to incite the crowd to action, one of the people said, arguing it had been used in political speech ever since decades, including by President John F. Kennedy in reference to the moon landing.

Another point of contention with Mr. Miller was Mr. Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud. Mr Miller, people familiar with his appearance said, argued the election was stolen, saying there were several instances of fraud.

Investigators have also pressed Mr. Miller for his involvement in plans to nominate pro-Trump voters in states Mr. Biden won as part of a bid to keep Mr. Trump in power.

As the Electoral College convened to vote in December 2020, Miller announced on Fox News that state lawmakers in several “disputed states” were sending “an alternative list of voters” to Congress.

“This will ensure that all of our legal remedies will remain open,” Miller said.

Despite appearing on Thursday, Miller took an adversarial attitude toward the committee. Last month, he sued to block investigators from accessing his phone records, arguing in part that the panel was invading his parents’ privacy since he was on their family plan.

The committee is in possession of a draft of Mr. Trump’s speech, which investigators have taken particular interest in, exploring inflammatory language and whether he encouraged rally attendees to march on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Miller helped write the speech, although other members of his team played a larger role. Two other speechwriters on the team, Vince Haley and Ross Worthington, have previously testified before the committee.

Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s last chief of staff, claimed that Mr. Trump improvised the part of his comments in which he told the crowd to march on Capitol Hill. But the committee obtained contemporaneous testimony and notes from a former senior White House official that directly contradict Mr. Meadows’ statements, the panel said.

“This former senior official explained that the President sincerely wanted to walk or drive with the protesters to Capitol Hill at the end of his Jan. 6 speech,” wrote Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who is chairman of the committee. in a letter to Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, asking her to bear witness.

Mr. Trump has also recently recognized at the Washington Post that he had wanted to join the march on the Capitol, but that the secret services had prevented him from doing so. The Times and other outlets reported shortly after the riot that Mr Trump had wanted to walk but was told he could not.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jan. 6 panel urges Stephen Miller on whether Trump sought to incite mob
Jan. 6 panel urges Stephen Miller on whether Trump sought to incite mob
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