Ricketts calls Jan. 6 hearings a ‘partisan rehash of mostly old information’

Republican governor says people need to keep testimony in perspective

By: - June 29, 2022 3:48 pm
Ricketts press conference

Gov. Pete Ricketts at a State Capitol press conference in January 2022. (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts on Wednesday called the congressional hearings into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol a “partisan rehash of mostly old information.”

The Republican governor was asked his opinion of the hearings during a press conference.

On Tuesday, Cassidy Hutchinson, a key aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the time of the attack,  provided explosive testimony describing how then-President Donald Trump knew the angry mob descending on the Capitol had guns and other weapons, that the former president did nothing to stop the violent attack, and that he ignored pleas to call for their retreat.

Keep hearings ‘in perspective’

Ricketts, who said last week he wasn’t paying much attention to the hearings, on Wednesday said that people need to keep the testimony “in perspective.”

“Ms. Hutchinson, she is reciting things that are second- or third-hand,” Ricketts said.

He said viewers of the hearings should not “fall into the same trap” as the Washington Post, which had to publish a correction to a January 2021 story maintaining that Trump had pressured a Georgia election investigator to “find the fraud” in the 2020 voting and become “a national hero.”

The Post’s correction later said those quotes were wrong and that Trump had instead urged the investigator to scrutinize ballots in Georgia, asserting she would find “dishonesty” there.

Need the ‘whole story’

“You have to have the whole story here,” Ricketts said of the recent testimony in Congress. “We’re getting one person’s perspective. It’s third-hand.”

When asked by a Nebraska Examiner reporter if Republicans in Congress should have placed members on the committee that would cross-examine witnesses, therefore providing a wider perspective, that’s when Ricketts responded that it was a “rehash of mostly old information.”

State Sen. John McCollister
State Sen. John McCollister of Omaha (Courtesy of Unicameral Information Office)

Not everyone has agreed with Ricketts’ assessment. On Tuesday, State Sen. John McCollister of Omaha, who is also a Republican, tweeted that “if you are a Republican politician who CONTINUES to bury your head in the sand to Donald Trump’s criminality, you are complicit. History will not remember you fondly.”

Hutchinson testified that Trump, besides trying to subvert the election results and doing nothing to stop a violent attack on the Capitol, tried to wrestle control of a vehicle away from the Secret Service to steer it to the Capitol and expressed support for the mob chanting to hang Vice President  Mike Pence.

“Donald Trump is a mob boss,” McCollister also tweeted.

A week ago, when asked about the hearings, Ricketts said that he was too busy with the state’s business to watch the hearings and that Nebraskans were more concerned about inflation and the high price of fuel.

Complicated relationship

Trump and the Ricketts family, wo are major contributors to Republican and conservative causes, have had a complicated relationship. The family was initially opposed to Trump’s candidacy, giving $5.5 million to a PAC working to block his nomination. But later, when Trump became the clear frontrunner, the Ricketts family became major donors.

More recently, Gov. Ricketts and Trump diverged on who to support in the GOP primary for Nebraska governor. Ricketts endorsed and campaigned for University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, who won the primary. Trump endorsed and made an appearance in Nebraska for Falls City businessman Charles Herbster.

The governor did not answer a question posed last week about whether he would vote for Trump if he ran again for the presidency in 2024.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.

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