Former White House aide Stephen Miller testified on Thursday to the House select committee investigating January 6 about whether Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The virtual deposition, which lasted for roughly eight hours and was earlier reported by the New York Times, also touched on Miller’s role in the former president’s schemes to overturn the results of the 2020 election and return him to office, the source said.
Miller was Trump’s top domestic policy adviser and chief speechwriter. His appearance made him the latest Trump White House official to speak to the select committee, a day after Trump White House counsels Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin talked to the panel for the first time.
House investigators asked Miller about the language in Trump’s speech at the rally that took place at the Ellipse on January 6, a speech that Miller helped draft, the source said.
The select committee focused on the use of the word “we” throughout Trump’s speech, which it believes had the effect of encouraging the crowd to march to the Capitol in order to pressure Congress to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win, the source said.
Trump used the term repeatedly over the course of his 75-minute speech, including when he told his supporters “we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue … and we are going to the Capitol.”
The remarks, House investigators reportedly believe, amounted to an effort by Trump to encourage his supporters to march from the Ellipse to the Capitol on a false pretense, in the hope that they would disrupt Congress from certifying Biden as president.
That determination has come in part after the select committee reviewed Trump’s private schedule for that day, which showed there were no plans for the former president to join such a march, and that he was to be back to the White House, the source said.
Proof of bad intention on the part of Trump could bolster the select committee’s claim in the filing that he engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States by seeking to obstruct a lawful function of the government by deceitful or dishonest means.
Miller contested that characterization, and told the select committee the use of the word “we” in Trump’s remarks was not an effort to incite the crowd to storm the Capitol but a rhetorical tool used in political speeches for decades, the New York Times reported.
The panel is in possession of the speech and several draft versions, the source said. Miller, who testified pursuant to a subpoena issued in November, helped draft the speech with two other Trump aides – Vince Haley and Ross Worthington – who have also been subpoenaed.
The select committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Miller’s testimony.
Over the course of the extended deposition, House investigators asked Miller about his role in a brazen scheme to pressure legislatures to send slates of pro-Trump electors to Congress on January 6 in battleground states actually won by Biden, the source said.
The select committee also asked Miller about the former president’s claims about election fraud. Miller told the select committee that the election had been stolen, and raised several instances of the supposed fraud, the source said.
Miller’s appearance was at times heated and adversarial, the source added. Miller invoked executive privilege to some questions concerning his conversations with Trump, and only testified in response to the subpoena and after protracted negotiations involving his lawyer.