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How many Trump insiders pleaded the Fifth in the Jan. 6 probe?

The number of Team Trump insiders who've invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination is much higher than we previously knew.


It was nearly six years ago when Donald Trump made a comment at a Florida rally he probably wishes he could take back.

“The mob takes the Fifth Amendment,” the then-candidate said at the time, deriding those who assert their right against self-incrimination. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

It was a rhetorical question that came to mind during yesterday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing, as Vice Chair Liz Cheney thanked the witnesses for participating in the proceedings. From the transcript:

“[I]t’s been an honor to spend time with you and with our previous witnesses here today. To date, more than 30 witnesses called before this committee have not done what you’ve done, but have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.”

That number stood out, in part because it’s such a large total, and in part because it’s much higher than we previously knew.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, there are several high-profile figures from Team Trump whom we already knew pleaded the Fifth:

  • John Eastman, a Republican lawyer who allegedly played a leading role in the overall coup scheme, reportedly pleaded the Fifth — by some accounts, roughly 100 times.
  • Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser and GOP operative, said two weeks later that he also pleaded the Fifth.
  • Alex Jones, by his own admission, pleaded the Fifth nearly 100 times when the professional conspiracy theorist sat down with congressional investigators.
  • Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, also pleaded the Fifth, reportedly more than 100 times.
  • Michael Flynn, the beneficiary of a Trump pardon despite having previously pled guilty to felonies, pleaded the Fifth in response to investigators’ questions in March.

If Cheney’s comments were accurate, however, we’re not talking about five people from Team Trump who were concerned about giving self-incriminating answers; we’re talking about 30 such people.

To be sure, Americans have these rights under the Constitution. If members of the former president’s team have reason to be concerned about possible prosecution, it’s not too surprising that their legal counsel would encourage them to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights.

What’s more, it’s also worth noting that Cheney wasn’t specific about who these people were, and it’s at least possible that some of the group didn’t work for the Trump administration or the former president’s political operation.

Nevertheless, it now appears that the total number of people taking the Fifth is much higher than previously known.

As for the context, the top Republican quickly added that she has a specific witness in mind whom she’s eager to speak with.

“The American people have not yet heard from Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Pat Cipollone,” Cheney said. “Our committee is certain that Donald Trump does not want Mr. Cipollone to testify here. Indeed, our evidence shows that Mr. Cipollone and his office tried to do what was right. They tried to stop a number of President Trump’s plans for Jan. 6. Today and in our coming hearings you will hear testimony from other Trump White House staff explaining what Mr. Cipollone said and did including on January 6th. But we think the American people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone personally.”

A person close to Cipollone told NBC News late yesterday, “Pat has been cooperative with the committee with President Trump’s permission, but there are serious institutional concerns and privilege issues and those have been recognized by the committee.”

Watch this space.

The House Jan. 6 committee is holding its fifth public hearing on Thursday, June 23 at 3 p.m. ET. Get expert analysis in real-time on our liveblog at