Fox News host Sean Hannity had some blunt advice for President Donald Trump on Jan. 7, 2021: “No more stolen election talk.”
His guidance did not take. But documents disclosed Thursday showed in vivid detail just how closely Hannity had worked with White House aides in a fervent, if brief, effort to persuade Trump to abandon his false claims about voter fraud after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
One day after the attack, Hannity sent a text message to Kayleigh McEnany, then the White House press secretary, describing a five-point plan for approaching conversations with the president, according to documents released by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.
After urging McEnany to avoid discussion of a “stolen election,” Hannity proffered another talking point to use with Trump: “Yes, impeachment and 25th Amendment are real, and many people will quit …”
Hannity appeared to be referring to the possibilities that Trump could be impeached, face mass resignations from his staff or be temporarily removed from office by a group of his Cabinet secretaries invoking the 25th Amendment.
McEnany replied: “Love that. Thank you. That is the playbook. I will help reinforce.”
Fox News, where McEnany is now a commentator and a co-host of a weekday program, declined to comment Thursday.
In public, Hannity and McEnany remain lockstep supporters of Trump and his worldview. But their private exchanges show the level of alarm among even the president’s closest allies after the Jan. 6 riot, as Trump persisted in his false claims that the election had been stolen from him and his political future appeared deeply precarious.
The exchanges were included in a letter sent by the House committee to Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter and one of his senior advisers. The committee is seeking Ivanka Trump’s cooperation as it tries to piece together a scramble inside the White House to persuade Donald Trump to denounce the attackers at the Capitol.
In another exchange included in the letter, Hannity urged McEnany to keep the president away from certain advisers. “Key now. No more crazy people,” Hannity wrote. McEnany replied: “Yes 100%.”
This month, the House committee asked Hannity to cooperate and answer questions about his communications with Trump and his aides in the days surrounding the riot. At the time, the committee disclosed messages in which Hannity advised Mark Meadows, then the White House chief of staff, on the president’s political future. “He can’t mention the election again. Ever,” Hannity wrote Jan. 10, 2021, to Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
A lawyer for Hannity, Jay Sekulow, has said the committee’s request to interview Hannity raises “First Amendment concerns regarding freedom of the press.”