Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a member of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, said she was “surprised” the Justice Department did not subpoena Cassidy Hutchinson, the former White House aide who gave bombshell testimony last week.
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday, Lofgren said she did not share the concern raised by federal prosecutors in a New York Times report that they “felt blindsided” after listening to Hutchinson’s testimony, since they did not have access to her previous closed door depositions.
The Justice Department has asked the committee to turn over transcripts of witness interviews, but the panel has so far held back. A committee spokesperson told The Times the panel could share those transcripts with the DOJ as soon as they finish their public hearings in July.
The committee has yet to announce the date of its next public hearing.
“We’re not an arm of the Department of Justice,” Lofgren told NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “We’re a legislative committee. They have subpoena power. They could subpoena Ms. Hutchinson. I’m surprised they had not done so.”
“I was surprised that the prosecutors were surprised,” Lofgren continued. “What are they doing over there? They have a much greater opportunity to enforce their subpoenas than our legislative committee does.”
The Justice Department is investigating the insurrection but it is still unclear whether they will pursue a criminal case against Trump.
Cheney told ABC’s “This Week” the committee would look into whether to issue a criminal referral of Trump to the DOJ.
“The Justice Department doesn’t have to wait for the committee to make a criminal referral,” Cheney said. “There could be more than one criminal referral.”
Hutchinson shared previously unknown details about what was happening inside the White House leading up to and including the day of the Capitol riots. Hutchinson said her former boss, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, had been warned Jan. 6 could turn violent. Both Meadows and Rudy Giuliani reportedly sought presidential pardons following the insurrection, Hutchinson said.
The former Meadows aide also relayed Trump’s Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato told her the former president tried to grab the steering wheel of his limousine and lunged at Secret Service agent Bobby Engel, after Engel refused to drive him to the Capitol for security reasons.
“We had interviewed Mr. Ornato several times,” Lofgren said. “His memory does not appear to be as precise as hers. We certainly would welcome them to come back if they wish to do that.”
Hutchinson also changed lawyers last month, according to Politico, hiring instead Jody Hunt, who served as chief of staff to Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions. The change reportedly signalled her willingness to cooperate further with the committee’s investigation.
“The Trump world was paying for her lawyers, which was very problematic for her,” Lofgren told NBC’s Chuck Todd.
Hutchinson testified behind closed doors four times before appearing at the Jan. 6 committee’s public hearing Tuesday.
Following Hutchinson’s gripping testimony, the committee announced Wednesday they have issued a subpoena for White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
“The Select Committee’s investigation has revealed evidence that Mr. Cipollone repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about President Trump’s activities on January 6th and in the days that preceded,” stated a press release announcing the subpoena.
Lofgren said she expected Hutchinson’s appearance would encourage Cipollone to appear before the committee.
“Our intention is to hear from him, and I think given the testimony of Ms. Hutchinson that he was trying to prevent crimes from being committed on that day,” Lofgren told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I would assume that he would want to come in.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told CNN’s “State of the Union” more witnesses have shown a willingness to testify after the latest public hearing.
“This happens every day,” Kinzinger told CNN’s Dana Bash. “Every day we get new people that come forward and say, ‘Hey, I didn’t think maybe this piece of the story that I knew was important.’”