Apr 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Jan. 6 committee wants Ivanka’s secrets

Former first daughter Ivanka Trump is seen standing against the backdrop of Air Force One.

Ivanka Trump on Inauguration Day 2021. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Jan. 6 investigators have been intensely interested in Ivanka Trump, as the former first daughter is one of the few people with direct knowledge of what Donald Trump was thinking and doing during the critical hours of the Capitol attack.

Why it matters: Although the extent of Ivanka Trump's cooperation on Tuesday is still unclear, the import of what she had to say could be unmatched by almost any other witness.

Driving the news: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the select committee, told reporters Tuesday afternoon that Ivanka Trump began testifying virtually midmorning and was "answering questions" for several hours.

  • She didn't plead the Fifth Amendment or assert executive privilege, to the extent of Thompson's knowledge.
  • He also said her appearing voluntarily, and without a subpoena, has "significant value."

The big picture: The Jan. 6 committee has been trying, through hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents, to understand what former President Trump said and did in real time during the insurrection.

  • This includes his physical and emotional reaction immediately prior to and during the attack.
  • Anyone he spoke with during that period is an eyewitness.

Between the lines: Ivanka Trump had unique proximity to and influence over her father.

  • That makes her one of the few people who can speak directly to his mindset as he sat in the private dining room adjoining the Oval Office and watched the riot unfold on television.
  • NBC News first reported about her planned testimony on Tuesday.
  • A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump didn't respond to requests from Axios for comment.

Behind the scenes: Ivanka Trump's husband, Jared Kushner, wasn't in the White House that day, and the same is true of many other witnesses who've testified before the Jan. 6 committee.

  • She was not only on the grounds but is documented as having spoken directly with her father.
  • She also was recruited by other White House officials to persuade him to issue what was initially a soft statement toward supporters committing violence in his name that day.

The details: Thompson, in a Jan. 20 letter requesting her testimony, laid out how Ivanka Trump was present in the Oval Office at key intervals on Jan. 6 and cited several aspects of the day she could illuminate.

They include:

  • Efforts by Trump and his allies to recruit then-Vice President Mike Pence to decertify the election. This included a morning phone call involving Trump, Pence and Gen. Keith Kellogg — the then-vice president's national security adviser — in which Trump said Pence wasn't "tough" enough.
  • Her repeated efforts to persuade the then-president to make a statement about the violence — and entreaties from staffers, lawmakers and others for her to intervene given her unmatched influence with her father.
  • Trump's "state of mind" during the attack and whether he ignored pleas to denounce the rioters and abandon his claims the 2020 election was stolen.

What they're saying: "We're trying to cast as wide a net as possible, to interview anybody who might have had information as to what occurred on Jan. 6, and obviously [Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner] are central to that," Thompson told reporters.

  • "They were those group of folks in the Trump orbit, most of the time."

The backdrop: Jared Kushner also appeared voluntarily before the committee last week, and spoke virtually for several hours.

  • However, Kushner was out of the country on Jan. 6, returning to Washington after a trip to Saudi Arabia. That limits the extent of what he can offer the panel.
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