Inside ‘craziest Trump meeting of his presidency’: Oval Office ‘clash’ over election fraud claims ran past midnight, involved Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn and Giuliani, and led to ‘challenges to physically fight’, January 6 testimony reveals
Tuesday’s January 6 Committee hearing featured dramatic testimony about a fateful White House meeting that began Dec. 18 and continued past midnight – featuring angry clashes between outside advisors who bought Donald Trump‘s election fraud claims and advisors who called them absurd.
The meeting involved a ‘heated and profane clash,’ said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a former impeachment manager who discussed the meting, which came weeks before the Jan. 6, 2020 Capitol riot.
‘The Select Committee has spoken with six of the participants as well as staffers who could hear the screaming from outside the Oval Office,’ said Raskin.
‘What ensued was a heated and profane clash between this group and President Trump’s White House advisors who traded personal insults, accusations of disloyalty to the President, and even challenges to physically fight,’ he said.
Members of the Jan. 6 panel played short testimony clips of witnesses describing that meeting, which began in the Oval Office and continued inside another oval shaped room in the White House residence.
It came four days after the members of the electoral college had met Dec. 14 to cast their votes for president – an event that former Attorney General Bill Barr and others took as a signal that Trump’s opportunity to prevail over Joe Biden was formally over.
‘Kraken’ lawyer Sidney Powell took part in an angry Dec. 18 White House meeting that lasted six hours and Rep. Jamie Raskin said had been called the ‘craziest’ of the entire Trump era
Powell said former White House counsel Patrick Philbin set a ‘land speech record’ rushing to join the meeting
Then, ‘Kraken’ lawyer Sidney Powell, pardoned former national security advisor Mike Flynn, and Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne turned up at the White House.
It soon became clear what the subject matter was – efforts to overturn the election by having the Defense Department seize voting machines and other drastic measures.
‘I bet Pat Cipollone set a new land speed record’ when he got wind of it and raced to the meeting, quipped Powell.
‘For all of its absurdity, the December 18 meeting was critically important because President Trump got to watch up close for several hours as his White House Counsel and other White House lawyers destroyed the baseless factual claims and ridiculous legal arguments being offered by Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn and others,’ said Raskin.
‘President Trump now knew all these claims were nonsense, not just from his able White House lawyers, but also from his own department of justice officials.’
The meeting lasted 6 hours, beginning in the Oval Office and moving to the White House residence, said Raskin.
He then played a video stringing together clips of testimony about the confrontation.
Said former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows Cassidy Hutchinson: ‘So that was the first point that I had recognized: Okay, there was nobody in there from the White House. Mark’s gone. What’s going on right now?’
Recalled Cipollone, who testified despite occasionally invoking executive privilege: ‘I opened the door and walked in. I saw General I saw Sidney Powell sitting there. I was not happy to see the people in the Oval Office,’ he said.
He also testified that he shared Barr’s view that Trump should concede after the electoral college met.
Cipollone referred to Byrne, whom he called ‘the Overstock person,’ in reference to the online retailer.
‘I walked in I looked at him. I said, Who are you?’ he said.
‘I don’t think I don’t think any of these people were providing the President with good advice,’ he said.
Former White House lawyer Eric Hirschmann described some of the intricate theories of election fraud that the outside advisors, whom he and Cipollone opposed, were sketching.
‘I was asking like, “Are you claiming that Democrats were working with Hugo Chavez because Venezuelans and whomever else and at one point General Flynn took out a diagram that supposedly showed IP addresses all over the world.’
He said he asked: ‘Who was who was communicating with whom, via the machines?’ The response he got was ‘some comment about like Nest thermostats being hooked up to the Internet,’ he said.
‘It was not a casual meeting,’ said Derek Lyons, a former White House staff secretary. ‘I mean, at times, there were people shouting at each other, hurling insults at each other. It wasn’t just sort of people sitting around on the couch like chit chatting,’ he said.
Powell said Cipollone and Hirschmann ‘showed nothing but contempt and disdain of the president.’
‘We were asking one simple question, as a general matter: Where is the evidence?’ said Cipollone.
White House staff pressed Powell on the string of losses in court. ‘And she says, well, the judges are corrupt,’ said Hirschmann. ‘And I was like every one?Every single case that you’ve done in the country, you guys lost, every one of them is corrupt? Even the ones [judges] we appointed?’ he said.
‘The screaming was completely completely out there,’ said Hirschmann. ‘What they were proposing I thought was nuts.’
‘I’m going to categorically describe it as you guys are not tough enough,’ said former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. ‘Or maybe I put it another way, you’re a bunch of p******,’ he said, using an expletive.
‘Excuse the expression, but I’m almost certain the word was used.’
Raskin cited a text message from Hutchinson that the meeting, which ended after midnight, was ‘unhinged.’
He also put up an image Hutchinson took of Meadows leaving the White House early on Dec. 19th. She wrote Meadows was ‘escorting Rudy off-campus to make sure he didn’t wander back to the Mansion.’
Earlier, panel vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) claimed it was ‘nonsense’ to argue that Trump was misled into believing the election had been stolen from him as the Jan. 6 committee played testimony from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone claiming he told Trump to concede after Dec. 14.
The Wyoming Republican, ranking member on the Jan. 6 committee, said the committee had seen a ‘change’ in how Trump-allied witnesses and lawyers had approached the committee’s investigation
‘Today, there appears to be a general recognition that the committee has established key facts including that virtually everyone close to President Trump – his Justice Department officials, his White House advisors, his White House Counsel, his campaign – all told him the 2020 election was not stolen,’ Cheney said.
She said this had forced Trump’s attorneys to ‘change the strategy’ for defending him. ‘Now the argument seems to be that President Trump was manipulated by others outside the administration that he was persuaded to ignore his closest advisors and that he was incapable of telling right from wrong.’
Rep. Liz Cheney said that former White House Pat Cipollone’s testimony ‘met expectations’ while she claimed it was ‘nonsense’ to argue that former President Trump was misled into believing the election had been stolen from him
‘This new strategy is to try to blame only John Eastman or Sidney Powell or Congressman Scott Perry or others and not President Trump. … This, of course, is nonsense. President Trump is a 76 year old man. He is not an impressionable child.’
Cheney also said that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s testimony ‘met our expectations.’ She said the focus of Tuesday’s hearing would be on election fraud claims in the weeks between the November election and Jan. 6.
Excerpts from Cipollone’s deposition, which was videotaped, were shown at Tuesday’s hearing.
The committee played a clip where Cipollone told them that by mid-December he had urged the former president to give up his election fraud claims after court after court ruled against him.
‘Did I believe he should concede the election at a point in time? Yes I did.’
The former White House counsel said that former Vice President Mike Pence deserved a Medal of Freedom for resisting Trump’s orders and certifying the election in favor of Joe Biden on Jan. 6.
‘I think the Vice President did the right thing. I think he did the courageous thing. I have a great deal of respect for him.’
Multiple accounts suggest Cipollone and his team threatened the ex-president with resignations in the face of his election fraud claims.
He reportedly made his skepticism of Trump and his allies’ plot abundantly clear to the committee.
Cipollone said that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has refused to testify before the committee, told him there was no widespread evidence of fraud and Trump should concede.
Cipollone was asked if Meadows assured him Trump would make a graceful exit.
‘I would say that is a statement and a sentiment that I heard from Mark Meadows…It wasn’t a one-time statement.’
Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter, and Kayleigh McEnany, his press secretary, both said they believed the fight was over after legal battles concluded unsuccessfully in mid-December, as the committee tried to drive home the point that trusted members of Trump’s inner circle were not on his side with election fraud, and he chose to ignore them.
‘In my view upon the conclusion of litigation I began to plan for life after the administration,’ McEnany said.
In response to the Justice Department’s finding there was no fraud, Ivanka said: ‘I think it was my sentiment, probably prior as well.’
Cipollone said he ‘supported that conclusion’ made by Attorney General Bill Barr that there was no widespread fraud.
Excerpts from Cipollone’s deposition, which was videotaped, were shown at Tuesday’s hearing
Cipollone said that he got a call on Dec. 18 that a number of outside advisers had made their way to the president’s office to discuss election fraud.
The meeting included Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, Sidney Powell, Michael Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com, a close ally of the ex-president’s who previously dated a Russian spy.
‘I saw Gen. Flynn. I saw Sidney Powell sitting there. I was not happy to see the people in the Oval Office….. First of all, the Overstock person, I didn’t even know who this guy was … I looked at him and said, ‘who are you?”
Powell said she had no idea if they could get a private audience with the president, but a lower level staffer led them to his office. Then, Cipollone came running.
‘I bet Pat Cipollone set a new land speed record,’ Powell said in a clip played from her testimony.’
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said the committee had spoken to six participants in that Dec. 18 election fraud meeting.
‘What ensued was a heated and profane’ argument, Raskin said, that included ‘challenges to physically fight.’
In a clip of Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani’s testimony, he says he told the White House lawyers they weren’t ‘tough enough’ and that they were a ‘bunch of p***ies’ for claiming there was not enough evidence of election fraud.
Raskin said that after the unhinged meeting, Trump sent out a tweet calling on his supporters to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6: ‘It will be wild,’ Trump wrote.
Cipollone tore into Trump attorney Sidney Powell’s idea for Trump to sign an executive order to seize voting machines the Trump team believed were linked to fraud.
‘At some point you have to put up or shut up, that was my view. To have the federal government seize voting machines? That’s a terrible idea for the country. That’s not how we do things in the US. There’s no legal authority to do that,’ Cipollone said.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr said that when Trump brought him a draft executive order to seize voting machines across the nation, he shot it down immediately.
‘Some people say we can get to the bottom of this if the department sees the machines -i t was his typical way of raising the point,’ Barr said in his videotaped deposition.
‘I said absolutely not. There is no probable cause, we are not going to seize any machines.’
Cipollone added: ‘I don’t understand why we even have to tell you that’s a bad idea. It’s a bad idea.’
Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy then displayed text messages obtained from former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson where she raised red flags to Meadows about how the Jan. 6 ‘Save America’ rally could get out of hand.
She said that Trump loved the ‘crazies’ which was why some of them were speaking at his rally.
‘He loved people who viciously defended him in public,’ Pierson said in recorded testimony about her texts, expressing particular concern about right-wing commentators Alex Jones and Ali Alexander.
It’s the panel’s seventh hearing, and the only one expected this week after former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson claimed last week that Trump directed his supporters toward the Capitol while knowing they were armed, and got into a physical altercation with his security detail when Secret Service agents stopped him from joining the mob.
Meanwhile, Raskin told NBC News that Cipollone corroborated ‘almost everything’ that came up in the panel’s last six hearings, including Hutchinson’s explosive account.
‘He had the opportunity to say whatever he wanted to say, so I didn’t see any contradiction there,’ the Maryland Democrat said.
He and fellow Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy will lead Tuesday’s hearing.
Meanwhile, the January 6 committee will meet with former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne behind closed doors at the end of this week, it was reported Tuesday.
Byrne is a close ally of Donald Trump‘s and was present at a White House meeting on December 18 in which the then-president and a group of formal and informal advisers discussed ways to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, CNN reports.
He was forced to step down from his position as chief executive of the online furniture store in 2019 after disclosing that he was romantically involved with a woman who was convicted of being a Russian spy, Maria Butina.
The December 18 meeting will be a focus of Tuesday afternoon’s hearing for the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
There are reportedly no parameters set for Byrne’s Friday meeting with lawmakers.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the January 6 committee for confirmation.
The committee’s normal process involves a closed-door deposition as its first step before any possible consideration of a public hearing.
Tuesday’s report does not make clear whether it’s Byrne’s first time before the panel, or if he will be bound under oath.
Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock, will meet with the January 6 committee behind closed doors, CNN reported
He’s a close ally of former President Donald Trump and reportedly helped push his 2020 election fraud lies
The former chief executive has been accused of actively pushing Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was ‘rigged’ in favor of President Joe Biden.
Alongside Byrne, the Oval Office meeting was attended by former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as his disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The meeting was described to CNN as ‘forceful,’ having erupted into ‘fighting’ and shouting matches as White House officials clashed with the ex-president’s conspiracy theorist allies.
Ideas floated at the meeting included seizing voting machines for government inspection and installing Powell as a special counsel to investigate election fraud, committee aides have said.
Byrne’s attendance at the meeting was not disclosed until Tuesday.
Byrne was also reportedly present at a December 18 White House meeting during which January 6 committee aides say the idea of appointing Sidney Powell as special counsel for election fraud was floated
Aides said the committee’s afternoon hearing will also focus on a tweet sent out by Trump after the heated meeting.
‘Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,’ he touted in the early hours of December 19. ‘Be there, will be wild!’