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Trump Tried To Contact A Jan. 6 Committee Witness, Liz Cheney Says

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said former President Donald Trump attempted to contact a Jan. 6 committee witness.

During a hearing Tuesday, Cheney said the witness, who has not yet appeared publicly, did not answer a call from Trump and informed their attorney about the attempted contact.

Cheney said Trump called the witness after the last hearing, during which Cassidy Hutchinson, a former assistant to Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, made a series of bombshell claims about the former president’s actions on Jan. 6.

Cheney did not name the witness.

So What’s Witness Tampering?

Any attempt to interfere with or prevent the testimony of a witness is witness tampering, also sometimes called witness intimidation.

Witness tampering or witness intimidation is prohibited both in criminal cases and also in civil cases.

Engaging in this type of behavior in a civil case can turn a civil case into a criminal case very quickly. Tampering with a witness can result in a state charge or a federal charge in criminal court.

Both charges carry with them very severe penalties because witness intimidation or witness tampering can have a profound impact on criminal and civil cases. Prosecutors closely monitor the activities and behaviors of witnesses in criminal cases to ensure that there is no undue influence on their testimony and they will immediately investigate any suspected intimidation or tampering with the witness.

How often is a crime like this prosecuted?

Not very often. The majority of witness tampering cases happen in the context of a judicial proceeding, like a grand jury. It’s rare to have these cases revolve around someone preventing testimony to Congress. (In 2019, Trump ally Roger Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering. He was going to go to jail before President Donald Trump granted him clemency.)

That doesn’t mean these kinds of prosecutions can’t happen; it just means the Jan. 6 committee could be fighting an uphill battle if it refers such a case to the Justice Department.

The Jan. 6 committee has referred four people to the Justice Department for prosecution so far — all for contempt of Congress charges, for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify. The Justice Department has prosecuted two: former Trump political adviser Stephen K. Bannon, who faces a trial this month; and former White House adviser Peter Navarro.

What’s Trump’s potential liability?

It’s unclear. We don’t know the identity of the witness who received the phone call. Cheney said the committee would reveal more in later hearings.

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