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Sean Hannity. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 select committee has requested Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity voluntarily cooperate with its investigation of the assault on the U.S. Capitol, a source with direct knowledge of the plan told Axios and the committee later confirmed.

Why it matters: Hannity is one of the most prominent media figures in America and was a close adviser to Donald Trump throughout his presidency. The committee revealed last month that Hannity texted then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during the riot to urge him to get Trump to stop his supporters.

Driving the news: In a letter to Hannity, Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) wrote that they seek "voluntary cooperation on a specific and narrow range of factual questions" and are not seeking "information regarding any of your broadcasts, or your political views or commentary."

  • Jay Sekulow, counsel to Sean Hannity, told Axios, “If true, any such request would raise serious constitutional issues including First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press.”

Between the lines: Hannity condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying on his show on the night after the riot that "all of today's perpetrators must be arrested and prosecuted."

  • But Hannity has never criticized Trump for his role in ginning up the crowd in D.C. that day. And he has criticized the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6.

Details: Axios has not yet been able to establish the nature of the cooperation the committee plans to ask of Hannity. Committee officials have said Hannity was among several Fox News hosts who were texting Meadows during the riot.

  • The letter cited text conversations with Meadows, in which Hannity said, "I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told." He instead advocated for Trump to go to Florida and focus on election reform.
  • Two other Fox News hosts — Laura Ingraham, the host of the 10pm show "The Ingraham Angle," and Brian Kilmeade, a host of the morning show "Fox & Friends" — also weighed in with Meadows in real time as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden's electoral victory.

Behind the scenes: Hannity was much more than a TV host during the Trump presidency. He was a friend, supporter and informal adviser in frequent phone calls with the former president.

  • One former Trump aide sarcastically referred to Hannity as the "real chief of staff." That was a gross overstatement, but it spoke to Hannity's special access to Trump.
  • Such was Hannity's influence with Trump that officials who wanted to persuade him often turned to the Fox News host to help get their ideas or action items across the line.
  • A phone call from Hannity to Trump carried more sway than a conversation between the president and many members of his own Cabinet.

Go deeper: Trump cancels Jan. 6 press conference

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a letter the committee sent to Hannity as well as new texts made available by the committee.

Go deeper

Pence: "Tragic" Jan. 6 no reason to scrap filibuster

Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday called the Jan. 6 Capitol riot an attempt to "overturn results of the presidential election that had been certified by all 50 states."

Why it matters: Though the former vice president's op-ed in the Washington Post focuses on rebutting filibuster reforms, these are also the most public statements Pence has made about the post-election narrative and the attack as an effort to interfere with President Biden's victory.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

Colleyville Rabbi credits survival to active-shooter training

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people taken hostage in a synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, said in an interview with CBS Monday that he initially took in the man because he thought he needed shelter.

The big picture: Cytron-Walker said he spoke to the hostage taker, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, for several minutes and made him tea before Akram took the rabbi and three other people hostage during Shabbat services for around 11 hours in Colleyville, Texas.

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