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John Ratcliffe, former Texas congressman, warned Trump staffers against trying to undermine 2020 election

By Abby Livingston, The Texas Tribune

John Ratcliffe, former Texas congressman, warned Trump staffers against trying to undermine 2020 election” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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John Ratcliffe, a former Texas congressman who served as director of national intelligence under former President Donald Trump, warned White House staffers against following through with efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election ahead of the insurrection, a staffer testified Tuesday before members of Congress.

“My understanding was … Director Ratcliffe didn’t want much to do with the post-election period,” former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson said in a previously taped video deposition that the committee aired Tuesday.

Hutchinson testified before the U.S. House committee investigating the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. She was an assistant to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

“Director Ratcliffe felt like that it wasn’t something the White House should be pursuing,” she added in a separate video clip.

The committee’s vice chair, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, questioned Hutchinson while also cuing the taped video clips of her previous testimony.

“It felt it was dangerous for the president’s legacy,” Hutchinson said of Ratcliffe’s mindset. “He had expressed to me he was concerned it could spiral out of control and potentially be dangerous either for our democracy or the way things were going for [Jan.] 6.”

Ratcliffe could not immediately be reached for comment.

At the time, Ratcliffe was serving in the top post overseeing the United States intelligence community. Prior to that role, he served as the Republican congressman representing the 4th Congressional District, which covers much of Northeast Texas. He is also a former U.S. district attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

When an off-camera questioner asked Hutchinson to clarify her comment, she said Ratcliffe cautioned others in Trump’s circle against “trying to fight the results of the election, finding missing ballots, pressuring … filing lawsuits in certain states where there didn’t seem to be significant evidence and reaching out to state legislatures.”

“Pretty much the way the White House was handling the post-election period,” she added. “He felt there could be dangerous repercussions in terms of precedents set for elections, for our democracy. For the 6th, he was hoping we would concede.”

As a member of Congress, Ratcliffe was one of Trump’s staunchest Capitol Hill defenders. Significantly, he was a lead Republican in pushing back during the 2019 U.S. House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment investigation into whether Trump had inappropriately attempted to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into leading an investigation into Hunter Biden, son of future President Joe Biden.

The committee aired these clips in an apparent effort to make the case that senior White House officials were conscious of the potential for dangerous consequences to their efforts to undermine confidence in the 2020 election.

Hutchinson’s comments on Ratcliffe were a small part of stunning testimony she delivered before the committee. In specific detail, she described Trump’s rage at the U.S. Secret Service for not allowing him to join his armed followers. In that instance, she recounted Secret Service agents detailing how Trump wrestled away an agent in order to take the wheel and direct the car toward the U.S. Capitol.

She also said White House officials were aware that members of the crowd gathered for a Trump rally near the executive mansion were armed. Additionally, she described ketchup on a West Wing wall, remnants of a raging president throwing dishes after learning that then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr had told the Associated Press in December 2020 interview that there was not evidence of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.

Before her time as a White House staffer, Hutchinson was an intern in U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s office.

On Thursday, Hutchinson named Republican U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler as one of several U.S. House members who requested pardons from Trump after Jan. 6.

Gohmert emphatically denied he asked for a pardon for himself, saying he asked for pardons for others he believed were being targeted for political retribution.

The congressional pardon requests rattled Capitol Hill over the last week. During Hutchinson’s live testimony Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro called for criminal investigations.

“Every member of Congress who worked to overturn the election should be prosecuted. Not just resign. Prosecuted. #January6thHearings,” the San Antonio Democrat wrote on Twitter.

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