The panel investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol focused on Trump’s efforts to undo Joe Biden’s victory in the most local way – relying on key state officials from the battlefield to outright reject ballots or submit alternative voters for the final count in Congress.
The pressure, described as potentially illegal, was fueled by the false allegations of electoral fraud which, according to the panel, led directly to the murderous insurrection in the Capitol.
“A handful of election officials in several key states have stood between Donald Trump and the overthrow of American democracy,” President Bennie Thompson said, praising them as heroes and “the backbone of our democracy.”
The hearing was punctuated by accounts of personal attacks faced by state and local officials.
Arizona Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers said he had been the subject of a public smear campaign, including relentless bull horn protests at his home and a gunman a gun mocking his family and neighbors.
Officials in Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states told similar stories about having their cell phone numbers and home addresses publicly released after they refused Trump’s requests.
In a startling moment, two Georgian poll workers, a mother and daughter, testified that they lived in fear of saying their names out loud after Trump falsely accused them of voter fraud.
“There were a lot of threats wishing me dead,” said Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former state election worker.
The public hearing, the panel’s fourth this month, stems from its year-long investigation into Trump’s unprecedented bid to stay in power, a sprawling ploy the Jan. 6 committee chairman likened to a ” coup attempt”. The panel insisted that Trump’s lies about the election threaten democracy to this day, as local officials face constant threats and challengers try to get back to work.
The committee’s vice chair, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, implored Americans to heed the evidence presented, saying, “Donald Trump didn’t care about threats of violence. He did not condemn them, he made no effort to stop them.
“We can’t let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence,” she said.
Other key witnesses include 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 , and his assistant Gabe Sterling, who became a notable figure during Georgia. long story in 2020 when he urged Trump to tone down the rhetoric.
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 his 2020 call with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy who results in his first indictment.
Raffensperger’s public testimony came weeks after he appeared before a special grand jury in Georgia investigating whether Trump and others unlawfully attempted to interfere in the state’s 2020 election, and after Raffensperger beat a Trump-backed challenger in the primary elections last month.
He and Sterling, its chief operating officer, detailed their painstaking efforts to count Georgia’s vote, investigating one false allegation after another of fraud. After a manual recount of 5 million ballots, Biden’s victory remained unchanged.
“The numbers don’t lie,” said Raffensperger, who said some 28,000 Georgia voters simply bypassed the presidential race but voted against the others. “Ultimately, President Trump failed.”
Bowers, the Arizona House speaker, explained what started with a phone call from Trump on a Sunday after returning from church. The defeated president presented his proposal for the state to replace its voters for Biden with others favoring Trump.
“I said, ‘Listen, you’re asking me to do something that’s against my oath,'” Bowers said.
Bowers insisted on seeing evidence of Trump voter fraud, which he said Trump’s team had never produced beyond vague allegations. He recalled Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, telling him at one point, “‘We have a lot of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.'”
Trump wanted Bowers to hold a hearing at the state Capitol, but the Republican leader said there was already a “circus” atmosphere during the election. The panel showed video footage of protesters at the Arizona State House, including a key figure, cocked hat Jacob Chansley, who was later arrested during the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.
Trump nonetheless pressed the Arizona official, including in a follow-up call, suggesting he expected a better response from a fellow Republican.
But Bowers said that because of his faith, including a belief that the US Constitution is divinely inspired, what the president was asking him to do was “alien to my very being.”
Bowers called Trump’s effort a “tragic travesty.”
In in-person testimony, Moss, who had worked for the Fulton County Elections Department in Atlanta since 2012, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, a temp election worker who spoke to the panel earlier, captivated the audience with their stories. smear fallout. Trump and Giuliani campaign.
“There’s nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere,” Freeman testified. “Do you know what it’s like to be targeted by the President of the United States? United is supposed to represent every American, not target one, but he targeted me.
The select committee worked to unravel the elaborate system of “fake voters” who sought to have representatives in no less than seven battlegrounds – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico – sign certificates stating that Trump, not Biden, had won their states.
The committee showed a text message sent by an aide to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to an aide to Vice President Mike Pence on the morning of Jan. 6 saying that Johnson wanted to give Pence an “alternate list of voters for MI and WI.”
“Don’t give him that,” replied Chris Hodgson, Pence’s aide. And Johnson didn’t, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Conservative law professor John Eastman, Trump’s attorney, pushed fake voters in the weeks following the election. Trump and Eastman summoned hundreds of voters in a January 2, 2021 call, encouraging them to send in alternate lists from their states where Trump’s team alleged fraud.
The fake voters idea was designed to issue a challenge on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress met in joint session, with Vice President Pence presiding over what is usually a ceremonial role to accept state vote counts. . But the effort fell apart, as Pence refused repeated requests from Trump to simply stop certifying Biden’s victory – a power he believed he did not possess in his role.
This is the certification that the Capitol Mafia tried to stop.
At least 20 people linked to the fake voter scheme have been subpoenaed by the House panel. The committee says it will show it has gathered enough evidence through its more than 1,000 interviews and tens of thousands of documents to link the various efforts to overturn the election directly to Trump.