Five seemed to be her favorite number.
Recordings invoked the Fifth Amendment by key allies of former US President Donald Trump and refused to answer substantive questions when they appeared before the congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
The panel released transcripts of 35 interviews with witnesses on Wednesday in preparation for the release of the final report of its investigation on Jan. 6.
Close Trump allies — including right-wing activist Roger Stone, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and lawyer John Eastman — spent almost all interviews with the panel, citing the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination.
The amendment, which is part of the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, protects people from being forced to be witnesses against themselves.
While some former Trump officials and the former president himself resisted the committee’s subpoenas, risking criminal charges, others appeared before the committee but provided virtually no information.
Today, the Special Committee published 34 transcripts of witness statements collected in the course of the Special Committee’s investigation.
These recordings can be found on the selection committee website: https://t.co/JZaSH4GmdK
— Committee of January 6 (@January6thCmte) December 21, 2022
Stone even refused to answer basic factual questions such as his age and where he lived.
This is how the conversation went:
Question: “Mr. Stone, where do you live?
Answer: “On the advice of a lawyer, I will exercise my Fifth Amendment rights.”
Question: “How old are you?
Answer: “Based on a lawyer’s advice, I will once again assert my Fifth Amendment right to respectfully decline to answer your question.”
In the Flynn interview, investigators appeared frustrated by the former US general’s incessant appeal to the Fifth Amendment.
The interviewer wanted to know why he refused to answer questions and asked whether Flynn was afraid that his answers would incriminate him in later proceedings.
Flynn’s lawyer responded by alleging that the Fifth Amendment serves to “protect innocents from being involved in ambiguous circumstances.”
In a panel public hearing earlier this year, the committee’s vice chair, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, found that witnesses refused to provide meaningful answers in interviews.
“Roger Stone was fifth. General Michael Flynn finished fifth. John Eastman was fifth,” she said. “Others, such as Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, simply refused to comply with lawful subpoenas and were indicted.”
Bannon, a top Trump adviser, was sentenced to four months in prison in October for refusing to cooperate with the committee.
Earlier this week, the panel recommended criminal charges against Trump, arguing that he had broken the law in his campaign to turn off the 2020 elections. Trump repeatedly made false allegations of voter fraud, which lawmakers say culminated in the events of January 6.
Trump’s supporters stormed and looted the Capitol to prevent confirmation of President Joe Biden’s victory.
“This evidence has led to an overarching and unequivocal conclusion: The central cause of January 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, who was followed by many others. None of the events of January 6 would have happened without him,” says a summary of the final report.
The panel’s chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson, said Monday that the committee would also release its “non-sensitive records” before the end of the year.
“These transcripts and documents will enable the American people to see for themselves the amount of evidence we’ve collected and are continuing to investigate… which has led us to our conclusions,” he said.
While continuing to reiterate his baseless claim that the 2020 election was “stolen,” Trump denied any wrongdoing related to January 6, often reprimanding the congressional panel and dismissing his work as a political witch hunt.