Who are ex-Trump aides Matt Pottinger and Sarah Matthews, lead witnesses at next Jan 6 hearing?

Former deputy press secretary has previously called Capitol riot a ‘coup attempt’

Gino Spocchia
Tuesday 19 July 2022 16:07 BST
Related video: Donald Trump accused of ‘attempted coup’ at January 6 hearing

When the January 6 committee’s next prime-time hearing airs on Thursday, lawmakers will hope to show how Donald Trump’s “dereliction of duty” on the day the US Capital was attacked was a key element of what unfolded.

On Thursday evening, the panel will reportedly have the help of two star witnesses from within the former US president’s White House, who sources familiar with the matter informed CNN of on Monday night.

According to reports, the pair are Matthew Pottinger, a former deputy national security adviser, and Sarah Matthews, a former press aide.

Here’s what we know about the duo:

Matthew Pottinger has already appeared via video link at a January 6 hearing when he spoke during the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

In a pre-recorded interview shown at the hearing in June, Mr Pottinger said he resigned on January 6 after Mr Trump tweeted that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage” to reject the 2020 election results in Congress.

“I read that tweet and made a decision at the moment to resign,” he said to the committee. “That’s where I knew I was leaving that day, once I read that tweet”.

Mr Pottinger, who served for four years in the Trump administration as a national security adviser, was formerly a Marine Intelligence Officer who was stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan on three deployments between 2007 and 2010.

A video of former deputy national security advisor Matthew Pottinger played at a January 6 hearing (AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Hoover Institution, where he is a distinguished visiting fellow, he was also a journalist for Reuters and the Wall Street Journal before entering the US Marines. After active duty, he founded a consultancy business focused on US-Asia trade and also oversaw an Asia research at an investment fund in New York. 

Much of his work on the National Security Council during the Trump administration focused on US policies toward China and the Indo-Pacific region.

Before his resignation on the day of the US Capitol riot, Mr Pottinger had considered resigning from his role on Election Day 2020 following the defeat of Mr Trump, Bloomberg reported.

He was however convinced to stay by his boss, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who had allegedly considering doing the same and voiced support for vice president Mike Pence amid criticism from Mr Trump.

Sarah Matthews also resigned from the Trump White House on January 6 after Congress was besieged by a violent mob of the president’s supporters – something she said on Twitter in January this year was “a coup attempt”.

Calling that day “one of the darkest days in American history,” Ms Matthews added that “former President Trump failed to meet the moment”.

Former deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews (AP)

“While it might be easier to ignore or whitewash the events of that day for political expediency — if we’re going to be morally consistent — we need to acknowledge these hard truths,” she added.

Ms Matthews previously worked on the 2020 Trump campaign where she met Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump campaign’s then national press secretary and later his final White House press secretary.

Ms Matthews said in an interview with Kent State University in 2020 that Ms McEnany invited her to join her in the White House upon her appointment as press secretary.

The public relations graduate had previously worked as an intern with former Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senator Rob Portman and the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Today, she works for the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, according to The Hill, and like Mr Pottinger has already worked with the January 6 committee during its probe.

In a testimony played at a hearing last month, she described Mr Trump’s attacks on Mr Pence as “like he was pouring gasoline on the fire by tweeting that”.

Committee member Rep Elaine Luria told reporters ahead of Thursday’s prime-time hearing that it “will go through pretty much minute by minute” of Mr Trump’s actions that day – including his call for his supporters to march on Congress and much criticised response to the mob.

“This is going to open people’s eyes in a big way,” added Rep Adam Kinzinger. ”The president didn’t do anything.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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