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The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol illustrated how Donald Trump knowingly spread his 2020 election lie in an attempt to subvert the Constitution and remain in power. The June 13 hearing came days after Thursday’s first public hearing, which was held on primetime television and amassed more than 20 million viewers.
The committee highlighted how Trump’s conspiracy to illegally stay in power influenced his followers to storm the Capitol, which resulted in the deaths of a civilian and multiple Capitol police officers.
Former Trump campaign manager Bill Steipen, wasn’t in attendance as expected due to a family emergency after his wife went into labor.
The committee played a video of Steipen speaking with investigators, instead. In the video, he detailed how the team was surprised when Arizona went for Biden, but that he urged the president not to declare victory. Trump declared victory on Nov. 4, 2020 anyway.
Americans also heard from other witnesses, including former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, who was fired from Fox News after being the first to declare Arizona electoral votes would go to President Joe Biden.
Stirewalt told the House committee he was proud of being on the Fox decision desk and said it was the best in the business, with data and research other outlets didn’t have.
“Our poll in Arizona was beautiful,” Stirewalt said, emphasizing that the team of researchers included Democrats, Republicans, members of academia, and others.
Former officials, advisors agree there was no fraud in 2020 election
“He ignored the will of the voters, he lied to his own supporters and his country,” Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said at the opening of the hearing.
Echoing her statements from the first hearing, Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) reminded viewers that Trump had a 7-point plan to illegally remain in power.
Highlighting the desperation in Trump’s actions during his fleeting days as president, Americans tuning into the House committee heard first-hand testimony from former campaign advisors, lawyers and former Attorney General William Barr, who all shared the same view: the election wasn’t stolen, and they tried to explain that to the president ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection he incited.
Notably, Trump attempted to convince Americans that swing districts with heavily Black populations were fraudulently counting votes.
With over 600 precincts, Detroit centralizes its precinct counting, requiring votes to be brought to a central location for counting.
Trump went after heavily Black precincts like Detroit, William Barr said no evidence of widespread fraud
Trump and some members of his team tried to assert that votes were being “dumped” illegally in Detroit, an argument with racial undertones that dates back to the days after Reconstruction, when Black voters and Black politicians were literally run out of towns due to their political power.
Former Trump Attorney General William Barr explained in a video shared by the committee that because Detroit centralized their voting precincts, it was normal for votes to be dropped off at all hours of the night. He also told the team that Trump did better in Detroit in 2020 than he did in 2016.
Latching on to any lie that might help him stay in power, Trump also went on a national campaign against Dominion, the company that operates voting machines around the country.
“He’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” Barr told investigators after recapping a time Trump handed him an alleged report citing fraud in the dominion voting machines.
Barr went on to leave the White House on Dec. 14 after telling Trump and his advisors that allegations of election fraud were “bullshit.”
“I never saw any evidence whatsoever” that dominion voting machines had switched votes, former Trump Campaign Lawyer Eric Herschman also said in a video shared by the committee.
Red Mirage: Trump used mail in ballots to spread his election lie
Former Fox News editor Chris Stirewalt, who was fired for accurately saying Biden won, reaffirmed that Biden won at Monday’s House committee hearing. He also explained the term “red mirage.”
It refers to the differing behavior habits between Democrats and Republicans. For decades, Democrats have preferred to vote by mail while Republicans prefer in-person voting. As the pandemic was politicized, that disparity grew even larger during the 2020 election.
Stirewalt explained that Republicans usually shoot ahead on election day, then Democratic votes usually soar as mail-in-ballots come in.
“So in every election, you expect to see a Republican with a lead, but it’s not really a lead,” Stirewalt told the House committee.
“We wanted to keep telling viewers [on election day] the numbers you see here are sort of irrelevant because it’s only a small percentage” of the total votes.
Rep. Lofgren played a video of Bill Barr talking about election night. He said Trump’s fraud claim “seemed to be based on the dynamic that at the end of the evening a lot of Democratic votes came in which changed the vote count for certain states.”
Bill Barr said everyone on Trump’s team already understood the reality of the “red mirage.”
Nevertheless, on the night of the election, as Trump’s lead took a dive, he went on television and said, “We want all voting to stop.”
Trump appointees, longtime Republicans testify against him
Former federal prosecutor serving the Atlanta area, Bjay Pak testified against allegations of election fraud. Pak was a Trump appointee.
In a December 4 meeting with former Attorney General William Barr, Pak said he was asked to look into allegations of fraud in Georgia made by Rudy Giuliani.
“We found that the suitcases full of ballots, the alleged black suitcase, was actually an official lockbox where ballots were kept safe,” Pak said.
“The allegations made by Mr. Giuliani were false,” Pak added.
Al Schmidt once served as the only Republican commissioner of a three-member panel which oversees elections in Philadelphia.
Trump had claimed 8,000 dead people voted in Philadelphia, another heavily Black district. Al Schmidt said “not only was there no evidence of 8,000 dead voters, there was not even evidence of eight.”
On Nov 11, Trump tweeted at Al, calling him a RINO (Republican in name only) and accusing him of helping Democrats “steal” the election. While Schmidt had faced threats before, he said the threats he faced after Trump tweeted became much more severe. People threatened to shoot his children, and included his family’s address.
Ben Ginsburg is a longtime Republican election attorney who played a key role in litigating the 2000 Bush v. Gore recount.
“There was never that instance” that any allegations of fraud were credible. “The Trump campaign did not make its case,” Ginsburg told the House committee.
Between Nov. 4 and Jan. 6, Trump’s legal team filed 62 challenges to the 2020 election results in federal court. Trump lost 61 of those cases, and the single case he won wouldn’t have affected the outcome of the election, the House panel asserted on Monday.
Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters continue to claim they weren’t able to have their day in court.
“There was no credible evidence of fraud produced by the Trump campaign or his supporters,” Ginsburg said.