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Hageman adviser criticized Trump after Jan. 6 attack for staying silent on officer's death

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Capitol Riot Investigation

Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., gavels the end of a hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington on Thursday. From left, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

A senior adviser to Harriet Hageman’s campaign criticized then-President Donald Trump’s lack of response to the death of a police officer following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to texts played at the panel’s latest hearing on Thursday.

On Jan. 9, 2021, then-Trump campaign adviser Tim Murtaugh texted one of his deputies, Matthew Wolking, about Trump’s response to the attack on the Capitol. He specifically noted Trump’s failure to say something about the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died one day after the attack.

“Also shi*** not to have even acknowledged the death of the Capitol Police officer,” Murtaugh wrote.

“That is enraging to me,” Wolking responded. “Everything he said about supporting law enforcement was a lie.”

Murtaugh then went on to say Trump would not fault the mob that attacked the Capitol while Congress was certifying the presidential election for Joe Biden.

“You know what this is, of course,” Murtaugh told Wolking, according to another text shown at the hearing. “If he acknowledged the dead cop, he’d be implicitly faulting the mob. And he won’t do that, because they’re his people. And he would also be close to acknowledging that what he lit at the rally got out of control. No way he acknowledges something that could ultimately be called his fault.”

Murtaugh did not respond to questions sent overnight Thursday. He is now working to elect Hageman, whom Trump endorsed to run against Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the former president’s biggest political enemies. Trump has sought to bring down Cheney since she voted to impeach him for inciting the Jan. 6 attack.

Hageman has tried to use Cheney’s role on the committee — she is the vice chairwoman — to argue the congresswoman is too distracted by the panel’s work to adequately represent the state. Hageman has also criticized the hearings themselves, calling them a “Stalinist show trial” in a statement earlier this week.

That line of attack has proven effective, according to a recent Star-Tribune poll that found Hageman leading Cheney by 22 points. The same poll found that nearly 60% of Republican voters say they are less inclined to support Cheney due to her role on the committee.

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The committee’s Thursday hearing sought to show that Trump waited hours to tell his supporters breaking into the Capitol to stand down, during which time more violence and damage occurred. Evidence presented at the hearing also showed Trump hung onto his unfounded claims of a stolen election even as rioters were in the Capitol.

A brief portion of Muraugh’s interview with the Jan. 6 committee was played during Thursday’s prime-time hearing.

“I don’t think it is a patriotic act to attack the Capitol,” he tells an interviewer. “But I have no idea how to characterize the people other than they trespassed, destroyed property and assaulted the U.S. Capitol. I think calling them patriots is a, let’s say, a stretch to say the least.”

He was asked: Would you call it unpatriotic?

“Criminal. Unpatriotic. Sure,” he responds.

Murtaugh is the second Hageman political adviser whose words have been featured at a Jan. 6 committee hearing. During a hearing last month, the deposition of Bill Stepien — who was Trump’s campaign manager at the time of the attack, was used to push back against Trump’s vote fraud claims.

Stepien testified that he advised Trump that it was too early to declare himself victorious on election night. Trump ignored his advice.

“Ballots were still being counted,” Stepien said in his deposition. “Ballots were still going to be counted for days. And it was far too early to be making any proclamations like that.”

Hageman has said repeatedly that she doesn’t know if Biden was legitimately elected.

Cheney, meanwhile, has used the hearings to push back on any claims that the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate. At Thursday’s hearing, she noted again that there is no evidence of fraud or irregularities at a scale that would have affected the election’s outcome.

Instead, Cheney said, Trump is preying on the patriotism of his supporters for his own ends.

“He is preying on their sense of justice,” Cheney said in her closing remarks. “And on Jan. 6, Donald Trump turned their love of country into a weapon against our Capitol and our Constitution.”


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Joshua Wolfson joined the Star-Tribune in 2007, covering crime and health before taking over the arts section in 2013. He also served as managing editor before being named editor in June 2017. He lives in Casper with his wife and their two kids.

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