Trump Breached His Own Privilege by Blabbing to Sean Hannity

The January 6 Committee is inviting Sean Hannity for a voluntary interview with the committee.

It’s unclear whether he’ll take them up on that investigation. But it seems the damage has already been done. That’s because texts involving Hannity make it clear he knew about the White House Counsel’s concerns about Trump’s actions.

The Select Committee is in possession of dozens of text messages you sent to and received from former White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows and others related to the 2020 election and President Trump’s efforts to contest the outcome of the vote. At this time, we are specifically focused on a series of your communications with President Trump, White House staff and President Trump’s legal team between December 31, 2020, and January 20, 2021. For example, on December 31, 2020, you texted Mr. Meadows the following:

“We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6 th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity.

Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”

Among other things, this text suggests that you had knowledge of concerns by President Trump’s White House Counsel’s Office regarding the legality of the former President’s plans for January 6th. These facts are directly relevant to our inquiry.

Similarly, on January 5th, the night before the violent riot, you sent and received a stream of texts. You wrote: “Im very worried about the next 48 hours.” With the counting of electoral votes scheduled for January 6th at 1 p.m., why were you concerned about the next 48 hours?

Also, on the evening of January 5th, you texted Mr. Meadows: “Pence pressure. WH counsel will leave.” Wha communications or information led you to conclude that White House Counsel would leave? What precisely did you know at that time?

Effectively, Trump breached the privileged advice the White House Counsel gave him by blabbing it to Hannity (or by Meadows doing so). The Committee can’t get that advice directly. But whatever got shared with a journalist has lost its privileged status.

58 replies
  1. Joe Sommer says:

    White House counsel is a government job. If there is a privilege, who owns it? (This is not a rhetorical question; I really don’t know.)

      • !? says:

        John Dean, former White House Counsel v. Mark Meadows, former White House Chief of Staff – is there a difference in the strength of their privilege claims?

        “Trump breached the privileged advice the White House Counsel gave him by blabbing it to Hannity (or by Meadows doing so).” I don’t follow how Hannity talking to Meadows means Trump breached his own privilege.

        • Peterr says:

          Once Meadows shared the information outside the circle of lawyers (for attorney-client privilege) or WH staff (for executive privilege), any claims of privilege disappear.

          See the comment below by I Never Lie and am Always Right.

        • Rayne says:

          The privilege belongs to the executive for the purposes of deliberation or operation where a degree of confidentiality may be necessary to effectively execute laws. Hannity isn’t part of the executive branch, not even a federal employee, and he’s not discussing executive branch operations but a political campaign when he talked about anything related to the election with Meadows.

          Meadows may be an executive branch employee, but anything he worked on in the White House or any federal facility related to the election was a likely violation of the Hatch Act and not privileged because it wasn’t part of executive branch function. He doesn’t have a leg to stand on like Dick “Barnacle” Cheney did as VP when his work on the Energy Task Force claimed to be privileged because it was the executive branch’s work on energy policy by federal employees.

    • emptywheel says:

      With Clinton and with the Mueller investigation, it has been shown to be a tricky issue. But in this case, it’s shot thanks to Hannity.

  2. flounder says:

    One small detail: Hannity has said numerous times and his employer has agreed with him that he is not a journalist.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It doesn’t matter. Hannity holds no position that would enable the privilege to survive regarding communications made to him.

        • Burt Berman says:

          Bmaz: Any sense you have on how Supreme Ct decides/deals with Trumps’s Natl.Archives appeal? Apparently there are videotapes of White House (inside) activity on Jan 5 & 6.

        • Rugger9 says:

          SCOTUS is the wild card. According to the black-letter law, they should decline to intervene because they do not have jurisdiction (the DCC mentioned this in their ruling). However, it seems pretty clear that this is an existential threat to the GQP because the records will include a lot of discussion with the other officials (like Hawley and Cruz) and allies (like Hannity and Stone) which will make it clear to the non-MAGA-cultists the threat to America posed by the GQP. The upcoming public hearings in March / April will reinforce this observation and be ringing in the ears of voters in November.

          Therefore, I predict that SCOTUS will parachute in to protect their party allies in a 5-4 ruling. I hope I am wrong.

        • bmaz says:

          Not sure you are wrong, but I hope so. If you are right, it portends the end to the political question doctrine.

  3. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    Every lawyer’s nightmare: you tell your client to not discuss your advice with anyone other than you or one of the client’s other lawyers. Your client then blabs your advice to a non-lawyer,thereby waiving the privilege.

    It’s no fun as an attorney being required to turn over previously privileged communications with respect to which the client stupidly waived the privilege.

    But if you are on the other side it is a potential treasure trove. You can get evidence from the attorney who provided the advice, to the extent permitted by the waiver.

  4. Alan Charbonneau says:

    I liked this line: “For example, you appear to have had a discussion with President Trump on January 10th that may have raised a number of specific concerns about his possible actions in the days before the January 20th inaugural. You wrote to Mark Meadows and Congressman Jordan:
    ‘Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him’ “

    He was still worried after January 6th had come and gone. Also, so much for Trump heeding Hannity’s advice to never mention the election again. The “I did not have a good call with him“ is likely an understatement. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

    • BobCon says:

      It’s an outside chance, but I would love too see the 1/6 Committee have details on what Fox management is telling Hannity.

      • Out of Nowhere says:

        Well, for one, Hannity isn’t using Fox lawyers; he’s using Jay Sekulow. That may indicate Fox doesn’t see any First Amendment protections in the production. Also, and this may be more my imagination than reasoned speculation, he may have been doing his own thing and perhaps disregarding the advice of Fox management or its wisened counsel. So, if this really blows up, they can cut his lifeboat from the mother ship.

        • madwand says:

          Sekulow has indicated he and his clients have 1st Amendment concerns about testifying, well we really shouldn’t be surprised.

  5. BobCon says:

    “The Select Committee is in possession of dozens of text messages you sent to and received from former White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows and others related to the 2020 election and President Trump’s efforts to contest the outcome of the vote…. For example….”

    I’m at least a bit more hopeful than I have been in the past that the person who wrote this is smart enough to choose a text which is just enough to catch Hannity’s attention, while also leaving him with a bit of agita wondering what else they have and why they didn’t mention it.

      • matt fischer says:

        There are some hints in the letter:

        At this time we are specifically focused on a series of your communications with President Trump, White House staff and President Trump’s legal team…

        …we are aware of and interested in your communications to Mr. Meadows and others during the violent attack on January 6th, as the rioters were attempting to occupy the Capitol building.

        As you may recall, Secretaries DeVos and Chao both resigned following the President’s conduct on January 6th, as did members of the President’s White House staff.

        And Jim Jordan is definitely in the mix:

        You wrote to Mark Meadows and Congressman Jim Jordan:

        Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      Oh, yes indeed—Liz Cheney hit Hannity with a blunt object. I’m sure he’s reeling.
      “We believe in privacy in this country” he said the other night after the first texts were released (althought he probably makes an exception for the Strozk and Page texts). He took an unscheduled vacation to let the heat die down and comes back to find additional texts that were even more damning than the first set. I’m loving that.

      Today’s news is that the committee wants to hear from Mike Pence and they want Sebastian Gorka’s phone records.

      They are also “considering” having televised hearings during prime time. I think the choice of the word “considering” is to amplify anxiety and they are definitely going to televise them during prime viewing hours.

      • Rugger9 says:

        In my comment above about the archivist records, I noted that there were likely to be collateral damage throughout the GQP, and asking about Seb Gorka is new to me. By the time it’s all done perhaps only Rove would be left untouched. I wonder how Karl Rove gets along with Roger Stone…

        As for the public hearings, I think Thompson and Cheney are indeed angry enough to televise, and given how the GQP has been pulling out all of the stops in rigging the election map this is an opportunity that won’t be missed. The GQP has forfeited any consideration of their feelings.

    • Eastern Ash says:

      Yes, there’s even a deft arch touch in the letter: “We cannot in good faith fail to question you on these and other specific issues relevant to our investigation . . . .”

      No kinder way to let Hannity know that the Select Committee can’t turn a cold, blind eye to someone with a leg deep in the bear trap and sitting in a pool of his own blood.

  6. P J Evans says:

    The former guy has called of his Jan 6 wingding in Florida. He’ll be saving it for his Jan 15 “rally” in Arizona.

  7. Badger Robert says:

    The real lawyers in the WH Counsel office said no, and probably have evidence they said no, to protect themselves.
    Hannity, through Meadows, was aware they had created a limit.
    So the committee is notifying the lawyers that the committee thinks the privilege has been waived.
    I don’t think Hannity will show up, and I don’t think they care. This is just another tactic to isolate Trump with the Navarro’s that are left, who are too dumb to accomplish anything.
    The committee probably has other disclosures lined up for tomorrow and 01/06.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      “The real lawyers in the WH Counsel office said no,”
      And the real USAG, Bill Barr, also said no and then promptly resigned.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Something so scummy Bill Barr wouldn’t get involved. Were they summoning Cthulhu? Raping fetuses? Torturing bunnies? The mind boggles!

        • Knox Bronson says:

          I sincerely doubt it was the scumminess that scared him off. My guess is that he finally realized the phrase “Everything Trump touches dies” was and is the truth and he was only looking to cover his own ass as much as he could this far into his dark servitude.
          *sorry- the autofill didn’t put my whole name—Knox Bronson. Didn’t notice until after I pushed the “post” button.

          [Username field fixed, no problem. /~Rayne]

  8. greenbird says:

    the committee’s letter is public.
    how hard is it to widely reprint it ? it covers a lot of areas …
    something about the center not holding, though — can’t exactly place it.
    Cheney co-signed.
    see for yourself: marcy started with a link to it. 2022 Jan 04.

  9. harpie says:


    12/31/20 HANNITY to MEADOWS [text]:

    We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6 th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”

    12/31/20 is the beginning of my little series COUNTDOWN to INSURRECTION

    Also on that date:
    – DOJ’s Rosen, Donoghue, and CLARK meet to discuss Clark’s refusal to hew to the department’s conclusion that the election results were valid. [CLARK had met with TRUMP and Scott PERRY about this.]
    – 12/31/20 Rosen speaks with Clark again. Clark reveals that he has spoken to Trump again and tells Rosen that Trump asked him whether he would be willing to take over as Acting Attorney General if Trump replaced Rosen, but that Clark wanted to do some “due diligence” on certain election fraud claims before deciding.
    – TRUMP COS MEADOWS sends MEMO written by TRUMP Campaign Lawyer, Jenna ELLIS [“A detailed plan for undoing President Joe Biden’s election victory”], to top PENCE Aide. [I guess that means Marc SHORT?]

    • WilliamOckham says:

      One interesting thing about the Hannity text on 12/31 is that it’s the first mention (AFAIK) of the WHCO being willing to resign over the coup plans. We already knew that they threatened that when Rosen forced the meeting with Trump rather than let Clark take over the DOJ. Could it be that the reason Meadows and Trump backed down from DOJ takeover was because they knew that they would lose Hannity over it?
      [Insert “Sean Hannity, unlikely voice of reason” meme here]

      • harpie says:

        LOL!: “Sean Hannity, unlikely voice of reason” meme

        …probably rank self-preservation, though.

        I wonder WHOM he was getting his information from.

  10. harpie says:

    1] Continued from:
    2] TRUMP TWEETS [List]:


    – GEORGIA’s double Senate runoff election.
    – Georgia’s U.S. Attorney PAK resigns at TRUMP’s demand [to ROSEN]

    [At the WHITE HOUSE]

    Pleased to announce that @KLoeffler & @sendavidperdue have just joined our great #StopTheSteal group of Senators. They will fight the ridiculous Electoral College Certification of Biden. How do you certify numbers that have now proven to be wrong and, in many cases, fraudulent!

    – TRUMP has told several people privately that he would rather lose with people thinking it was stolen from him than that he simply lost. [NYT]
    – MEETING at the WHITE HOUSE, during which TRUMP, SCAVINO and others consider “how to convince members of Congress not to certify the election”.
    – Ali ALEXANDER “got a call” “from Kimberley GUILFOYLE.”
    – A series of MEETINGS to convince PENCE to overturn the next day’s certification. One meeting was with John EASTMAN who argued PENCE did have the power to act.
    11:06 AM TRUMP TWEET: The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.
    – Approx. 1:00 PM PENCE / TRUMP LUNCH; PENCE conveys to TRUMP that he does not believe he has the power to block congressional certification
    – Trump calls GIULIANI and then BANNON at the WILLARD; TRUMP tells BANNON that PENCE had been “very arrogant” when the two discussed TRUMP/EASTMAN’s plan earlier in the day.

    After Pence leaves Oval on Jan. 5, Trump is furious. Pence isn’t breaking. He opens the door near the Resolute Desk. “A rush of cold air blasted the room.” He can hear the mob in the streets outside the Willard. He’s elated to hear them.


    5:05 PM Washington is being inundated with people who don’t want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats. Our Country has had enough, they won’t take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
    5:12 PM I hope the Democrats, and even more importantly, the weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party, are looking at the thousands of people pouring into D.C. They won’t stand for a landslide election victory to be stolen. @senatemajldr @JohnCornyn @SenJohnThune
    5:25 PM Antifa is a Terrorist Organization, stay out of Washington. Law enforcement is watching you very closely! @DeptofDefense @TheJusticeDept @DHSgov @DHS_Wolf @SecBernhardt @SecretService @FBI
    5:43 PM I will be speaking at the SAVE AMERICA RALLY tomorrow on the Ellipse at 11AM Eastern.

    – TRUMP calls SecDef MILLER: “in connection with a rally by his supporters that day at Freedom Plaza.”

    The President asked if I was watching the event on television. I replied that I had seen coverage of the event. He then commented that “they” were going to need 10,000 troops the following day.

    – HANNITY to MEADOWS text: “Pence pressure. WH counsel will leave.”
    – Scott PERRY [R-PA] to MEADOWS text: “Please check your signal”
    – Approx. 10:00 PM TRUMP says in a statement:

    […] The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.” [Pence can] “decertify the results or send them back to the states for change and certification” or send them to the House. […]

    – Senator GRASSLEY says: that he would be the one presiding over the certification, and not Mr. PENCE, because “we don’t expect him to be there.” [His aides later say he was suggesting a hypothetical, should Mr. PENCE step out for a break at some point.]
    11:41 AM HPSCI STAFF email to DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs:

    From: Lucian Sikorskyj [HPSCI Staff]
    To: Office of Legislative Affairs
    Subject: Priority Request for Information on FBI Activities Related to Tomorrow’s Joint Session of Congress.
    […] As you can imagine, given the heightened public concern about the role of federal law enforcement and the military during this transition period, the committee wants to ensure that the Bureau is transparent not only about its own preparations and planned activities, but also is not ensnared in any improper or questionable activities or requests for information by any other component of government, including DOD. […]

    [In the WAR ROOMS]
    – MEETINGS at the WILLARD Hotel focused on how to convince members of Congress to commit to NOT certifying the election.
    – Phil WALDRON, a retired Army colonel who specialized in psychological operations, who led a team of people who provided KERIK with analyses of state data purporting to show fraudulent voting, personally briefs a small group of HOUSE MEMBERS [whom he did not identify] [He gave them the 38-page PowerPoint presentation about alleged voter fraud and foreign interference.]
    – Steve BANNON, on his War Room podcast:

    All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this, all hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It’s going to be moving, it’s going to be quick. This is not a day for fantasy, this is a day for maniacal focus. Focus, focus, focus. We’re coming in right over the target, okay? Exactly. This is the point of attack we’ve always wanted.

    – Dozens of LAWMAKERS from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin write to PENCE, asking that he delay certification of Biden’s victory for 10 days to allow “our respective bodies to meet, investigate, and as a body vote on certification or decertification of the election.”


    STONE: This is nothing less than an epic struggle for the future of this country between Dark and Light, between the godly and the godless, between Good and Evil // And we will win this fight—or America will step off into a thousand years of darkness. We dare not fail! // I will be with you tomorrow—shoulder-to-shoulder!

    EVENING at FREEDOM PLAZA [TRUMP hears “his CROWD” from the WHITE HOUSE]: – 5:30 PM · Jan 5, 2021 [Dan SCAVINO TWEET]:

    from The White House WOW! We hear you from the West Wing—THANK YOU [VIDEO]

      • Eureka says:

        It would be overwhelming, I hear you. It’s a good day to let it go.

        Thank you for sharing your series with us, harpie. I have been reading along and see all the insight and work you’ve put into it.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        harpie, thank you for all the work you’ve put into this, especially since the 5th tends to get overlooked in all the commemorating of the 6th. I keep looking for a “time stamp” (whatever that might be in this case) for those two senate races in Georgia being called. For me that was the whole ballgame on the 6th, up until a spouse informed me there was a riot in DC and I should turn the TV on.

        Does anyone here know when those races got called, especially on Fox?

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