Three Fox News hosts texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the Jan. 6 riot urging him to press former President Donald Trump to call off his mob of supporters clashing with police at the Capitol, the congressional committee investigating the attack revealed in newly released text messages.
The panel’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., discussed the texts — from Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade and Sean Hannity — in detail at a committee meeting in which the panel advanced a measure referring Meadows to the Justice Department for a contempt of Congress charge over his refusal to testify.
“Indeed, according to the records, multiple Fox News hosts knew the president needed to act immediately” on Jan. 6, Cheney said.
“Mark, the president needs to tell the people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Ingraham texted, Cheney said.
She then read from a text she said was from Kilmeade.
“Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” he wrote.
“Can he make a statement asking people to leave the Capitol?” Hannity asked in a text.
A spokesperson for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meadows appeared Monday evening on “Hannity,” but the two did not discuss the text message.
All three Fox News hosts have been supportive of Trump, and the correspondence offers new insight into how key allies in Trump’s orbit were urging him to take action as the violent events of Jan. 6 unfolded.
“But hours passed without necessary action by the president,” Cheney said Monday. “These nonprivileged texts are further evidence of President Trump’s supreme dereliction of duty during those 187 minutes.”
She added: “And Mr. Meadows’ testimony will bear on another key question before this committee: Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’ official proceedings to count electoral votes? Mark Meadows’ testimony is necessary to inform our legislative judgments.”
Other committee members read from texts they said were sent to Meadows from lawmakers, who were not named Monday evening. Some texts were said to be from Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son.
“We need an oval office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far. And gotten out of hand,” Trump Jr. said in one of the texts that were read aloud.
The nine-member bipartisan committee voted unanimously Monday to advance a contempt referral for Meadows to the full House. The House is expected to take up the measure Tuesday. A majority vote would result in the Justice Department’s being asked to prosecute Meadows, a former House member.
The Justice Department acted on a similar House recommendation for former Trump aide Steve Bannon, who faces two criminal charges. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in July.