WASHINGTON – The house Committee investigating the January 6 riot delves deeper into what it calls “the big lie” that Donald Trump is telling false allegations of voter fraud that fueled his relentless efforts to overthrow the 2020 election, prompting a mob of his supporters to lay siege to the US Capitol.
The 1/6 plate resumes its hearings Monday with live witnesses including Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, as committee members say they’ve uncovered enough evidence Department of Justice to consider an unprecedented criminal indictment against the former president. Stepien was summoned to make his public statement.
Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chairman Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., will chair the morning hearing after last week The blockbuster session drew nearly 20 million Americans to see his prime time results.
Over the past year, the committee investigated the fiercest attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 to ensure that such an attack never happens again. The results come as Trump considers another run for the White House, and some warn that his efforts to reverse Joe Biden’s election victory posed a serious threat to democracy.
Stepien, a longtime Trump ally, oversaw the “transformation” of Trump’s presidential campaign into a “stop the steal” effort, according to a subpoena from the committee last fall. He will likely face questions about what those in Trump’s inner circle have told the president about the election results. Stepien is now a top campaign adviser to Trump-backed House nominee Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Cheney in the Wyoming Republican primary.
In addition to Stepien, the committee will also hear testimony from Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor who was closely involved in election night coverage and abided by the decision to declare Arizona Biden-won. He later wrote in an op-ed about his experience and may be asked about Trump’s actions as Fox New stated Biden won.
A second group of witnesses testifying Monday will consist of election officials, investigators and experts who are likely to discuss Trump’s reactions to the election, including dozens of failed trials, and how his actions deviate from US norms.
Among them is the former US attorney in Atlanta, BJay Pak, who abruptly resigned after Trump pressured Georgia state officials to reverse his defeat as president. Trump wanted to fire Pak as disloyal, but Pak stepped back after Trump’s call to urge Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state became public.
The panel will also hear from former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, the only Republican on the Electoral Board who defied criticism when the state election was called for Biden; and noticed Washington attorney and campaign attorney Benjamin Ginsberg.
As he ponders a White House run, Trump condemns the probe into his efforts to overthrow Biden’s election as a “witch hunt.” He said last week that January 6 “represents the greatest movement in our country’s history.”
Nine people died in the riots and their aftermath, including a Trump supporter shot dead by police. More than 800 people were arrested during the siegeand members of two extremist groups were charged with rare sedition for their role in leading the indictment of the Capitol.
In its prime-time hearing, the committee laid out how Trump was doing told again and again from his trusted aides and officials at the highest levels of government that there was no electoral fraud on a scale that could have changed the outcome. But Trump followed up on his false claims about the election, waving supporters to Washington on Jan. 6 to overturn Biden’s victory when Congress was due to confirm Electoral College results.
More evidence is set to be released in hearings this week with a focus on Trump’s decision to ignore the election result and the court cases against him.
Monday’s hearing will also look at the millions of dollars Trump’s team raised in fundraising ahead of Jan. 6, according to a committee aide who insisted on anonymity to discuss the details.
The committee said most of those interviewed in the inquiry would volunteer, although some wanted subpoenas to appear publicly. It’s unclear why Stepien was issued a subpoena. A Trump spokesman, Taylor Budowich, suggested the committee’s decision to call Stepien was politically motivated.
Lawmakers pointed out that perhaps his most important listener as the hearings progress may be Attorney General Merrick Garland, who must decide whether his department can and should prosecute Trump. They left no doubt about their own view as to whether the evidence was sufficient to proceed.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said on CNN he had no intention of “intimidating” Garland, but noted that the committee had already set out in legal briefs criminal statutes they believe Trump violated.
“I think he knows, his staff knows, US attorneys know what’s at stake here,” Raskin said.
No president or ex-president has ever been indicted. Garland has not indicated if he would be willing to pursue criminal charges, which would be complicated in a political election season in which Trump has openly flirted with the idea of running for president again.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.
For full coverage of the January 6 hearings, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/13/16-panel-to-hear-trump-campaign-manager-probe-election-lie/ 1/6 panel to hear Trump’s campaign manager and investigate the election lie