The House committee investigating the Capitol riot and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election must have known they were going to get a lot of Republican witnesses refusing to answer questions.
But perhaps they didn’t know just how serious they were about invoking their Fifth Amendment right not to self-incriminate.
In a batch of dozens of transcripts published by the committee on Wednesday, high-profile right-wingers involved in the events of Jan. 6 refused to answer hard-hitting questions such as “Where do you live,” “Do you have a Twitter handle,” and, on multiple occasions, whether the witness understood what the Fifth Amendment actually means.
And ahead of the release of the committee’s full report Thursday, the transcripts show a substantial lack of cooperation from many of the key players allegedly involved in the events that led up to the Capitol riot.
During his deposition on Dec. 17, 2021, Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone used his right to not self-incriminate by refusing to answer questions about his biography easily found on the internet.
“Mr. Stone, where do you reside?” investigators asked Stone, who lives in South Florida. “On advice of counsel, I will be availing myself of my Fifth Amendment rights in all of the questions today, including that one,” Stone responded.
“How old are you?” the 70-year-old Stone was asked. Again, Stone pleaded the Fifth.
“I will note that your position from the public record has been and I think continues to be that you have done nothing wrong with respect to Jan. 6,” an investigator, whose name is redacted, asked Stone. “Do you understand that the Fifth Amendment protects your right to refuse to answer questions if the truth itself would be incriminating?”
“I will yet again invoke my right to decline to answer your question respectfully on the basis of the Fifth Amendment,” Stone replied.
Alex Jones, the far-right commentator, was similarly asked during his Jan. 24, 2022 deposition if he understood what the Fifth Amendment entails. Investigators played a clip from his own show discussing Stone’s deposition, and Jones took the Fifth Amendment.
Jones was also asked if he knew the definition of perjury.
“I want to make sure that you understand that the crime of perjury necessarily requires the witness to tell a lie,” an investigator asked Jones. “Do you understand that?”
“On advice of my counsel, I'm asserting my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent,” Jones replied.
At one point, Jones said he was so anxious that he couldn’t even spell his own full name, Alexander Emerick Jones.
“You guys know what my name is. It's on the record,” Jones told investigators. When told he was spelling it for the court reporter, Jones began to spell it. “E, m...I'm so stressed out, I can't even spell it for you.”
A lawyer representing Jones—who once testified during a custody trial that he couldn’t remember details about his own children because he’d eaten a hefty bowl of chili for lunch—had to finish spelling his name for him, according to the transcript.
Kelli Ward, the far-right Arizona GOP chair, also continuously asserted the Fifth Amendment during her Mar. 16 deposition—even when asked about her easily accessible internet presence.
“Dr. Ward, do you have a Twitter handle?” an investigator asked.
“I rely on my Fifth Amendment privilege,” Ward responded. The investigator followed up: “We're aware of a Twitter account with the name @kelliwardaz...are you the individual who posts through that Twitter account?”
Ward, who describes herself in her Twitter bio as a “mom, wife, family physician, bestselling author, firebrand & former AZ Senator,” once again took the Fifth.
The Fifth Amendment was very popular among other witnesses as well. White nationalist troll Nick Fuentes took the Fifth when asked if he was currently employed and what his source of income was during his Feb. 16 deposition. Lawyer John Eastman was read a quote from a podcast he appeared on, during which he said former President Donald Trump had authorized him to talk about a memo he wrote outlining how to overturn the election, and took the Fifth.
And former lieutenant general and right-wing warrior Michael Flynn took the Fifth when asked questions like, “Who is Rudy Giuliani?” and “Who is Sidney Powell?” Sidney Powell was once Flynn’s own attorney before the two reportedly had a falling out.
But perhaps Flynn’s most famous statement during his deposition was already heavily publicized over the summer.
“General Flynn, do you believe in the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America?” Rep. Liz Cheney asked Flynn at the time.
“The Fifth,” Flynn responded.