Politics

Who Is Sarah Matthews?

The former White House deputy press secretary is reportedly going to testify before the Jan. 6 committee.

Sarah Matthews, a former White House deputy press secretary, sits and listens to a briefing in 2020.
Sarah Matthews, a former White House deputy press secretary, in a briefing in 2020. Pool/ABACA via Reuters Connect

In a hearing on June 28, Cassidy Hutchinson shocked the public with some of the most damning testimony yet on former President Trump’s connection to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Hutchinson, a 26-year-old who was formerly an aide to Mark Meadows, was privy to conversations that played out among the most powerful White House figures that day, and her behind-the-scenes access—and the cool composure from such a young witness—made for a blockbuster television event.

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It turns out that she isn’t the only twentysomething staffer Donald Trump should be concerned about.

Last week, CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Ryan Nobles reported that a 27-year-old former staffer named Sarah Matthews has been subpoenaed by the committee and voluntarily agreed to testify. That could happen as early as Tuesday, July 12, CNN reported. [Update, July 19, 2022: On Monday, CNN reported that Matthews, along with former national security adviser Matthew Pottinger, will testify publicly at the committee’s hearing on Thursday, July 21.]

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So who is this second young witness? Should we expect a testimony as dramatic as Hutchinson’s?

While it’s hard to answer the latter question with any certainty, Matthews did have high-level access as deputy press secretary. She wasn’t in as central a location as Hutchinson was, physically, but working from the press office, she still sat down the hall from the Oval Office and would have been witness to a number of conversations involving senior officials.

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According to ABC News, the House committee interviewed Matthews in February about the activity inside the White House that day. The Washington Post reported that she told the House committee investigators that when Trump tweeted, on the afternoon of Jan. 6, that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” she felt “he was pouring gasoline on the fire by tweeting that.”

Like a few other Trump administration officials, Matthews resigned on Jan. 6, shortly after the riot. She had been working at the White House for eight months. Previously, she had worked as a communications aide and press secretary for the House committees on Homeland Security and Energy and Commerce, according to her Linkedin.

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“As someone who worked in the halls of Congress, I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today,” she said in her statement of resignation from the White House. “Our nation needs a peaceful transfer of power.”

A little over a week later, Matthews told the Post that “seeing people I know, who were scared for their lives, just shook me to my core.”

Matthews said she had been “visibly shaken” after Trump failed to speak out against the mob in a full-throated way, and she was “disturbed” when Trump told the rioters “we love you” and that they were “very special.” She told the Post that her decision to resign had been “deeply personal” but that she knew she “couldn’t walk into the building the following day and act like everything was fine, because it was indefensible.”

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It’s not clear what she will tell the House committee investigating Jan. 6, but she has been vocally supportive of Cassidy Hutchinson—calling her testimony what “real courage, integrity, and patriotism looks like”—and has also openly called the events of Jan. 6 “a coup attempt.”

In a Twitter thread posted this past January, Matthews, who now works as the communications director for the House’s Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, wrote: “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.”

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Hutchinson is still loyal to the Republican party. Despite saying that “President Trump failed to meet the moment” on Jan. 6, Matthews has not indicated at any point that she regrets her work with his administration; in her resignation statement, she said she was “honored to serve in the Trump administration and proud of the policies we enacted.” And she told the Post last year that she didn’t blame colleagues who chose to remain in their jobs after the insurrection—that she was not trying to “distance” herself from the administration. She resigned, she said, only because the events of Jan. 6 “overshadowed all the good we’ve done these past four years.” (And a skim through her twitter feed shows a stream of critiques of President Joe Biden.)

Still, despite career ambitions within the party that started at a young age—while in college at Kent State, Matthews interned with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and then Speaker of the House John Boehner, according to her LinkedIn—Matthews has publicly defended the work of the Jan. 6 committee.

On the afternoon of Hutchinson’s testimony, Matthews tweeted: “Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access in the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump WH worked or is attempting to discredit her because they’re scared of how damning this testimony is.”

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