Fox host Sean Hannity is expected to be called to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but an MSNBC panel speculated he may not show if Donald Trump flexes his muscle.
Speaking to "Deadline White House" host Nicolle Wallace, New York Times reporter Katie Benner explained that the committee is trying to get the fullest account of what happened in the lead-up and during the attack.
"It's clear the 1/6 committee, and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has lent her voice to this line, they've made clear they want to understand what Donald Trump was not doing while the attack unfolded," said Wallace. "They also have spent a lot of time with some members of some of these extremist groups. They're looking at, it would appear, what he knew about, what they were doing, what their understanding was of what he wanted them to do."
Benner explained that even though Cheney has referenced Trump being in "dereliction of duty," that isn't something that Trump can be charged with criminally.
"What's interesting about the committee's decision to look at dereliction of duty is it's something that was sort of bandied around during the second impeachment of Trump," Benner continued. "After the Jan. 6 attack, there were people putting together the Article of Impeachment who wondered whether or not to do a second article — far more passive accusation, saying he did nothing to stop it, which seemed to some like it would have been an easier bar to meet. It's in the past. We can debate whether or not that would have been a good idea, but it's something that's coming around Trump before."
She also said that another point that came up in the impeachment that is resurfacing now is whether Trump would be fit to hold office again. A conviction at the second impeachment could have prevented Trump from seeking office in the future, but Republicans refused to convict. Some of those Republicans are now quietly talking about what their options are to stop him from being the GOP nominee.
When the group discussed Sean Hannity, the panelists noted that it's possible Trump will try to stop him from testifying.
"Hannity, for anyone who has covered President Trump, everyone knows he is someone he is in the president's orbit," explained MSNBC's Yamiche Alcindor. "It's also a reminder that Fox, while it's supposed to be a cable news channel, what it is and what it continues to be in a fringe wing of the GOP. And the host on there, especially the late-night opinion hosts on there — they've been in some ways more powerful than the elected officials. So, this is really, I think, an interesting move. It really shows that they are trying to understand what former President Trump was thinking. What he was telling people at the time. We'll see if this gets to be a subpoena level — it's unclear what goes on there. But it's interesting that Hannity is now having to face a difficult decision here, in whether or not he's going to come in and say 'here's what the president told me.'"
Benner agreed, noting that Hannity "was more than a Fox host. He was also a confident adviser, campaigner for the former president."
Wallace said that if Hannity does not speak to the committee, it will say a lot about Trump's power over him, to which Benner agreed.
"You know, should somebody like Hannity decide not to come speak before the committee, I think it says a lot about the perceived power of Donald Trump, and the idea that Donald Trump could retaliate in some way," Benner explained. "That it could hurt Hannity's standing at Fox. It could hurt his standing with viewers or his colleagues. Otherwise to your point, there is no reason for him not to testify. He was texting please have the president stop this insurrection. Please have him stop this violence. He wasn't encouraging it. There's no indication that he had done anything wrong."
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