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Judge J Michael Luttig health concerns surface amid Jan 6 hearings

Yasmine Leung June 17, 2022
House January 6th Select Committee Holds Its Third Hearing
Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

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Retired judge J Michael Luttig’s slow speech was noticeable as he presented his testimony at the January 6 hearings on 16 June 2022. Twitter has subsequently circulated rumours, claiming his staccato delivery was due to poor health as a stroke survivor. There is, however, no confirmation he suffered a health scare.

Day three of the January 6 hearings examined allegations that Donald Trump placed pressure on vice-president Mike Pence to overturn presidential election results. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, the public hearings were delayed by a day due to technical issues.

Retired judge J Michael Luttig appeared as a witness along with Pence’s chief counsel, Greg Jacob. Following Luttig’s lengthy testimony, social media has been fixated on the his health condition following his slow delivery.

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Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

J Michael Luttig claims Donald Trump attempted to ‘cling to power’

The former United States circuit judge criticised the former president and his allies, labelling the January 6 Capitol riot a “war instigated to cling to power”. Read a written statement Luttig submitted for the committee’s record obtained by CNN.

In the statement, Luttig wrote: “Knowing full well that he had lost the 2020 presidential election, the former president and his allies and supporters falsely claimed and proclaimed to the nation that he had won the election. The treacherous plan was no less ambitious than to steal America’s democracy.”

Luttig, 68, claimed “pressure” placed on Pence would have “plunged” the US into “what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis”.

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Social media blames Luttig’s health for slow speech

Some Twitter users claim the former judge’s slow delivery during the hearing is due to a stroke. However, there is no public information to prove this prognosis is true.

Luttig’s speech certainly appears to have changed over the years

Looking for other examples of Luttig speaking and whether his speech has changed, we found these clips (below). During his commencement address at the College Of Charleston in 2016, his speech appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it was very fluid:

In interviews dated 2022, however, a slower speed could be more detectable, although he still appears to talk faster than in his January 6 hearings testimony.

May 2022:

9 June 2022 – just last week – his speech appeared not to be unusual:

Internet forum DailyKOS also alleged Luttig suffers from a “serious stammer”, but there is no public record of this.

It’s possible, like some Twitter users say, the judge was simply trying place deeper thought to plead his case.

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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.