WASHINGTON – House investigators are methodically trying to argue that President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election led directly to his supporters Uprising in the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The House panel investigating the attack has captured the first two in one series of hearings provides its first results after a year-long investigation and more than 1,000 interviews. The committee has not only shown clips of the violent attack on the Capitol, but also of its own behind-closed-door interviews with Trump’s aides and associates who tried to dissuade him from spreading falsehoods about an election he lost.
A rundown of what we’ve learned so far from the select committee’s public hearings on Jan. 6 – and what’s next:
Rejected on election night
One by one, video clips of Trump’s aides describing their conversations with the newly-defeated president played as returnees arrived on election night and in the days that followed, as it became increasingly apparent that he had lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The committee seeks to determine that Trump has lied about widespread voter fraud despite hearing clear evidence that this did not happen.
When advisers tried to be realistic with the president, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani took the opposite tack, telling him on election night to immediately declare victory, according to witness testimony. It was four more days before Biden was declared the winner.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump said she knew it was clear the election night results would not be final. Campaign worker Jason Miller said you need to get a better feel for the numbers before making statements. Campaign manager Bill Stepien said he advised Trump to tell reporters the race was too early to announce, that he was proud of the campaign he was leading and that he was in a good position to win.
But Trump wasn’t listening. Miller said Trump told the room that anyone who disagreed with Giuliani was “weak.” He went out and publicly declared the election “a fraud on the American public.”
“Honestly, we won this election,” Trump said.
FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS REVEAL EMPTY
In the weeks following the election, the Justice Department investigated Trump’s allegations of widespread fraud. States and municipalities that counted the votes conducted their own checks. None found evidence to support the claims Trump and Giuliani were pushing.
Attorney General Bill Barr, who resigned after publicly declaring there was no evidence of widespread fraud, described his interactions with the president as he attempted to convince him of the facts. In addition to being angry, Trump was “disconnected from reality,” Barr said in a videotaped statement.
Barr said that when he told Trump, “there never was how insane some of these allegations were, there was never a hint of interest in the actual facts.”
Two personal witnesses at Monday’s committee hearing spoke of pressure from Trump and Giuliani to try to overturn the findings in their states. BJay Pak, a former US attorney in Atlanta who resigned when Trump pressured Georgia officials, said his office investigated Giuliani’s “reckless” claims of fraud in the state and found them “simply untrue.”
Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, the only Republican on the city’s Electoral Board, said Trump’s claims of cheating in his city are “fantastic” and thorough investigations have found nothing of the sort.
FUNDING WITH FALSE CLAIMS
The panel explained Trump’s fundraising for his own untruths. He and his allies raised hundreds of millions after the election, the committee said, largely misleading donors as to where some of the money went. Some of the dollars advertised as an “election defense fund” actually benefited groups and organizations associated with Trump’s family and friends.
“Not only was there the big lie, there was the big rip-off,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a member of the panel.
After Monday’s hearing, Lofgren said on CNN that Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, was paid $60,000 for a short speech at Trump’s pre-riot rally.
A REMEMBRANCE OF VIOLENCE
While some of the committee’s findings are new, some of the evidence they present is not. But the seven Democrats and two Republicans on the panel want to remind the public of what happened that January day — not just how violent it was, but the lies that led to it.
At the first hearing on June 9, the panel showed new video of police officers being beaten as Trump supporters broke into the Capitol, interrupting confirmation of Biden’s victory. Body camera images and security video showed the huge and angry crowd as they rushed to entrances, smashing windows and doors, echoing Trump’s claims of fraud.
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards described a gory “war scene” and hours of hand-to-hand fighting. She was one of the first injured officers to be thrown to the ground as the first rioters pushed past bike racks. She sustained a head injury and has still not returned to the same unit.
“It was carnage,” she said. “It was chaos”
While the schedule is fluid, the committee plans up to five additional hearings to present its findings. While the first two hearings showed the violence of the siege and documented Trump’s resistance as his aides and allies initially attempted to present the facts of his loss in November, future hearings will describe how he continued to push the lies and eventually targeted Congress Certification from January 6th.
On Thursday, the panel will detail Trump’s efforts to convince Vice President Mike Pence to illegally delay the count of the election or to object to Biden’s win when he chaired congressional attestation. In a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s Republican co-chair, said the panel will examine Trump’s “relentless efforts on Jan. 6 and in the days prior to pressure Vice President Pence to let himself go.” to refuse to count legitimate electoral votes.”
Rep. Cheney also included a preview clip: Former White House Counsel Eric Herschmann told the committee in a video interview that he told John Eastman, an attorney who worked with Trump to advance the false fraud allegations, that he had to ” get a great effing defense attorney. You will need it.”
Other hearings will examine Trump’s pressure on Justice Department officials and what happened at the White House as the Capitol violence unfolded.
“The Trump campaign legal team knew there was no legitimate argument — fraud, irregularities or anything — to overturn the election,” Cheney said at Monday’s hearing. “And yet President Trump has continued with his plans for January 6 anyway.”
After the hearings, the committee says its investigation will continue. And the panel members must ultimately make a decision on whether they have identified criminal activity and, if so, whether to report it to the Justice Department. The department conducting its own investigation could accept or leave the recommendation.
Committee members have discussed this issue but stressed that referral is not their primary goal.
“We’re reporting to the American people what happened, why it happened, and how we need to protect ourselves going forward,” said Maryland Assemblyman Jamie Raskin, a Democrat on the committee.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/14/jan-6-hearings-what-weve-learned-and-whats-next/ What we learned and what’s next