Judge Luttig: Here's why I spoke so slowly at Jan. 6 hearing

Retired judge writes: "I had an obligation ... to formulate, to measure and to meter out every single word"

Published June 19, 2022 12:42PM (EDT)

Retired conservative jurist J. Michael Luttig before the House Jan. 6 select committee on Capitol Hill on June 16, 2022. (Jabin Botsford/Washington Post via Getty Images)
Retired conservative jurist J. Michael Luttig before the House Jan. 6 select committee on Capitol Hill on June 16, 2022. (Jabin Botsford/Washington Post via Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on Raw Story


There has been a great deal of speculation as to why retired Judge Michael Luttig spoke so slowly at Thursday's hearing of the House Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"I like how this guy treats every line of his testimony like he's engraving it on a national monument. And frankly, he really *is* engraving it for history. And he seems to know it," Vanity Fair writer Joe Hagan wrote in a Twitter thread.

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"I also respect, despite how halting he may sound, that Luttig is not setting himself up to be a mere soundbite maker. He's speaking to history, not TV," he wrote. "His sobriety, his graveness, his hallowedness, is so foreign to our modern sensibilities — but that's the point. That is the precise point."

The thread was noticed by the former judge.

"Thank you so much for this thread, Mr. Hagan," Luttig wrote, beginning his own Twitter thread. "You almost presciently understood precisely what I was at least attempting to do to the best of my abilities during the hearing Thursday."

"What you could not know, and did not know, but I will tell you now, is that I believed I had an obligation to the Select Committee and to the country, first to formulate . . . then to measure . . . and then . . . to meter out . . .every . . . single . . . word . . . that I spoke . . . , carefully . . . exactingly . . . and . . . deliberately, so that the words I spoke were pristine clear and would be heard, and therefore understood, as such," he explained.

"I believed Thursday that I had that high responsibility and obligation — to myself, even if to no other. Also please bear in mind that Thursday was the first time in 68 years, to my knowledge, I had ever been on national television, let alone national television like that. And though not scared, I was concerned that I do my very best and not embarrass myself, as I think anyone who found themselves in that frightening circumstance would be," he continued.

"I decided to respond to your at once astute and understanding tweet finally this afternoon, because I have been watching the tweets all day suggesting that I am recovering from a severe stroke, and my friends, out of their concern for me and my family, have been earnestly forwarding me these tweets, asking me if I am alright. Such is social media, I understand. But I profoundly believe in social media's foundational, in fact revolutionary, value and contribution to Free Speech in our country, and for that reason I willingly accept the occasional bad that comes from social media, in return for the much more frequent good that comes from it — at least from the vastly more responsible, respectful speech on those media," he wrote.

"That is why, 16 years after my retirement from the Bench, even then as a very skeptical, curmudgeonly old federal judge, I created a Facebook account and then a Twitter account — slowly . . . very slowly . . . one account first . . . and then . . . followed . . . by the other. All of this said, I am not recovering from a stroke or any other malady, I promise. Thankfully, I have never been as sick or as so debilitated as that ever in my life, and would not want that for anyone. Knock on wood, I have never even been really sick a day in my life," he revealed.

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"I was more ready, prepared and intellectually focused (I had thought) during Thursday's hearing than I have ever been for anything in my life. I gather my face appeared 'too red' for some on Twitter, betraying to them serious illness. The explanation was more innocent than that. At the last minute, I had been able during the weekend preceding my testimony to help my daughter get settled into her new home, where the temperatures were in the upper 90s, and where I was appreciatively, though unwittingly, to get just a little bit of needed suntan!" he wrote.

"I was ... supremely conscious that if I were chiseling words in stone that day, it was imperative that I chisel the exact words that I would want to be chiseled in stone ... for history."


"What I will say, though, is this. And I think it explains it all. All my life, I have said (as to myself, and at times, by way of sarcastic prescription for others) that I never . . . talk . . . any . . . faster . . . than . . . my . . . mind . . . can . . . think. I will proudly assure everyone on Twitter that I was riveted, laser-like as never before, on that promise to myself beginning promptly at the hour of 1:00 pm Thursday afternoon," he wrote. "What is more, as consciously as one can be aware of something subconsciously, I was, in your poetic words of which I was, and am myself, incapable even of conjuring, Mr. Hagan, supremely conscious that, if I were chiseling words in stone that day, it was imperative that I chisel the exact words that I would want to be chiseled in stone, were I chiseling words in stone for history."

"So, in all sincerity, thank you, all of you on Twitter, who are genuinely concerned about me. I can assure you that on last Thursday, June 16, I had never felt, or been, better in my life. And now, two days later, I feel better, still! For better or worse, I was as compos mentis as I have ever been last Thursday, June 16, 2022. But please keep checking on me from time to time! You just never know these days! Thank you, everyone! You're the best!" Luttig said.

Read more on the Jan. 6 committee hearings:

By Bob Brigham

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