The ongoing Jan. 6 committee hearings may be leading former President Donald Trump to consider an earlier than usual announcement for his 2024 bid for the White House, according to reports, but Rep. Claudia Tenney told Newsmax Saturday that the proceedings are being held, in part, to destroy him and his supporters' chances.
"It's up to the president to make that decision," the New York Republican said on Newsmax's "Saturday Report."
"He has certainly been doing rallies as if he is going to be announcing a campaign, but I think we have to wait and see what Donald Trump has in store. He likes to surprise people, and I'm sure when he's ready, he will make a decision ... but he's definitely going to weigh that decision."
But the committee's purpose is to "denigrate the president and any of his supporters, anyone who stands for America first. This is part of destroying them.
"Unfortunately, we have a couple of people who are what we'll call ... registered Republicans trying to take down President Trump, and that would be Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger on this committee."
The New York Times earlier this week reported that Republicans are bracing for Trump to announce an unusually early bid for the White House to help shield him from the revelations coming from the committee hearings, especially after the testimony offered by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
Trump Saturday slammed the Times report as "fake news" and denied that he may make an announcement soon based on a lack of endorsements.
"We are dealing with very sick, bad people in the fake news media," Trump said.
Tenney called the Hutchinson testimony an "absurdity" and said that the American people have an "instinctive thing against show trials like this," particularly when "hearsay" is offered and accepted as testimony.
"People just sense an unfairness in it, so we'll see what the president does," said Tenney. "It should be exciting one way or another."
There were many people who did not think Trump could win against Hillary Clinton in 2016, but he "did it because he stood up for America," said Tenney. "He did prevent us from going down a path that I think would have been irreversible," said Tenney.
Meanwhile, the Jan. 6 committee is "desperate to find something" on Trump, said Tenney, and she thinks the hearings will continue until the November midterm election.
"They're going to find someone and something that they can get to put forward, and that's why, unfortunately, Cassidy Hutchinson was just not a credible witness," said Tenney. "You cannot put hearsay testimony before the American people and expect them to buy it. They're not buying this."
Meanwhile, the Times reports that Republicans are divided on whether Trump should announce a race early, or whether the announcement would be a distraction from the midterm elections.
Republicans close to Trump say he believes a formal announcement will prove that the investigations against him are politically motivated, and that they would take away the public's attention from potential rivals like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The former president enjoys an approval rating of about 80% among Republicans, even with signs that many party voters are looking at other options for 2024.
Trump has recently surprised advisers by saying he could formally declare his candidacy on social media, and his aides are reportedly already building out a campaign infrastructure should he announce as early as this month.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel has also urged Trump to bide his time until after the midterms, out of fears the campaign will distract from the party's message, but people familiar with the conversations say she's resigned herself to the likelihood that he'll announce before the November elections.
The Hutchinson testimony will also weigh heavily on a decision or even the difficulty Trump could have winning a third nomination for president, some experts agree.
"Ms. Hutchinson would be the star member of a women’s Republican club — a committed conservative, no reason to say anything but the truth," Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who voted to convict in Trump’s second impeachment, said. "It gives power to a testimony that allows Americans to judge for themselves."
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