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Ex-Trump aide tied to ‘unhinged’ December 2020 White House meeting speaks with January 6 committee

By Zachary Cohen and Andrew Millman, CNN

Former Trump White House aide Garrett Ziegler met Tuesday with the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.

A former aide to then-White House economic adviser Peter Navarro, Ziegler may be able to provide the committee with additional information about the circumstances around a heated Oval Office meeting on December 18, 2020.

Ziegler was seen by CNN entering an office used by the committee to conduct witness interviews. He declined to comment to CNN and exited the conference room around 11 a.m. ET.

During that 2020 meeting, White House lawyers clashed with outside Trump allies Sidney Powell, former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne and former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn regarding their extreme proposals for how to overturn the 2020 presidential election. CNN has previously reported that seizing voting machines and appointing a special counsel to investigate baseless claims of widespread election fraud were discussed.

The New York Times previously reported that Ziegler had taken credit for admitting the group into the White House. Other Trump officials, including former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, have previously testified to the committee that they were surprised and concerned upon learning that Powell and Flynn were meeting with Trump in the Oval Office that day.

Cipollone and other White House aides said they aggressively pushed back against the extreme proposals that were raised during the meeting, as was fleshed out at last week’s January 6 hearing. The panel showed text messages between two Trump White House aides from the time of the meeting, with one calling it “unhinged.”

Navarro has been charged with contempt of Congress after failing to appear for testimony or turn over documents in the House select committee’s investigation. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Navarro faces one year in prison for each of the two counts against him.

Navarro rejected a plea offer from the Justice Department, prosecutors said in court on Friday. The deal would have allowed Navarro to plead guilty to one of two contempt of Congress charges for not cooperating with the House’s ongoing January 6 investigation. Navarro would also be required to comply with the House select committee’s subpoena “to the satisfaction of the Justice Department,” prosecutors said, and would cap Navarro’s potential jail sentence at 30 days.

The committee continues to pursue its investigation despite having its last scheduled hearing so far planned for Thursday evening. Matthew Pottinger, who served on former President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, and former Trump White House aide Sarah Matthews are expected to testify.

News of Ziegler’s interview also came after the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, announced that he had Covid-19 and plans to isolate in the coming days. The committee said Thursday’s prime-time hearing would not be impacted.

This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

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CNN’s Hannah Rabinowitz and Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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