Vice President Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, delivers opening remarks as the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to release its findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. June 21, 2022 | PA
The U.S. House of Representatives Capitol Riot Committee heard chilling and tearful testimony on Tuesday that Donald Trump’s relentless push to annul the 2020 presidential election has prompted widespread threats against “the backbone of our democracy” – election workers and local officials who pushed back against the defeated president’s demands despite personal risk.
Arizona State House Speaker Rusty Bowers told the committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot that the harassment continues to this day.
A Georgian vote counter said she was afraid to leave her home after ex-President Donald Trump specifically targeted her. The House of Representatives panel accuses Trump of attempted coup.
And these public testimonies revealed more of Donald Trump’s plan to cancel the 2020 US election.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said pressuring officials to “betray their oaths” was a crucial part of Trump’s “playbook”.
In the US federal system, voters elect the president through their states. Each state is allocated a number of voters proportional to its population. Candidates who win a state carry its voters.
Trump’s lobbying campaign and fraud allegations targeted swing states he won in 2016 but lost to President Joe Biden in 2020.
The select committee conducted a nearly year-long investigation into how Trump supporters swarmed Congress on January 6, 2021 to disrupt lawmakers as they certified Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
On Tuesday, in the fourth public hearing to date, the panel heard from election officials from the states of Arizona and Georgia. Biden beat Trump in both states, which had previously backed Republicans for the White House.
A nation of ‘conspiracy theories and thug violence’
The committee’s vice chair, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, implored Americans to heed the evidence presented, saying, “We can’t let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.
A key witness was Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who testified to Trump’s phone call asking him to “find 11,780” votes that could topple his state to prevent Biden’s election victory.
Although the committee cannot charge Trump with any crime, the Justice Department is closely monitoring the panel’s work.
Trump defended himself on social media, describing his phone call to Raffensperger as “perfect,” similar to how he described the 2020 call with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy that resulted in his first impeachment.
Republican witnesses turn against Trump
Several witnesses told the committee that Trump was personally involved in the effort to come up with fake voter lists in key battleground states — a key part of the larger effort to overturn Biden’s legitimate election victory. .
Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, testified that she received a call from Trump and conservative attorney John Eastman after the election to help rally voters.
“In this effort, what did the president say when he called you? a committee investigator asked McDaniel, according to video of his testimony shown during the hearing.
“Essentially he passed the call to Mr Eastman, who then spoke about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign bring together these contingent voters in the event that one of the ongoing legal challenges changes the outcome of any date,” McDaniel replied.
“I think it’s more about helping them reach and put them together, but … my understanding is that the campaign took the lead and we were just helping them in that role,” she added.
“Find Me Votes”
Lawmakers also heard from Republican pollsters in Georgia about their difficulty rooting out conspiracies stoked by Trump.
Gabriel Sterling, a senior Georgia election official, told the committee that fighting election rigging allegations “was like a shovel trying to empty the ocean.”
His boss — Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump repeatedly pressed to “find” the votes he needed to win the state — ran through a long list of allegations made by the Trump team in legal action against the state.
“In their trials, they alleged 10,315 dead [voted]”, said Raffensperger, but a closer examination revealed a total of only four.
Raffensperger’s public testimony came weeks after he appeared before a special grand jury in Georgia to investigate whether Trump and others unlawfully attempted to intervene in the state’s 2020 election. Raffensperger defeated a Trump-backed challenger in last month’s primary election.
(with agency contributions)
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