On June 21 and June 22, the United Sates House committee held its fourth and its 5th day of hearings probing the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden as President. The hearings focused on President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign on state, local and Department of Justice officials to aide him in overturn the 2020 election results, along with Trump’s “fake electors” plot.
JUNE 21 HEARING TAKEAWAYS
On June 21, the Washington Post published its report providing an analysis by staff writer Aaron Blake. Following are the 4 major takeaways reported:
1. ARIZONA HOUSE SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS’S COMPELLING TESTIMONY: MORE EVIDENCE THE TRUMP TEAM KNEW ITS EFFORT WAS ILLEGAL
“Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers (R) provided some of the most compelling testimony at Tuesday’s hearing — and of any hearing thus far. In doing so, he added to the growing volume of evidence that Trump’s team was told its plot to overturn the election was illegal.
Bowers said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani asked him to look into potentially removing Joe Biden’s electors in Bowers’s state, at which point he bucked.
“He pressed that point, and I said, ‘Look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath, when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it. And I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona. And this is totally foreign as an idea or a theory to me. And I would never do anything of such magnitude without deep consultation with qualified attorneys,’” Bowers said. “And I said, ‘I’ve got some good attorneys, and I’m going to give you their names. But you’re asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath.’”
Bowers also recalled Giuliani acknowledging at one point that he didn’t yet have the evidence to back up the action he was asking for.
“My recollection [is] he said, ‘We’ve got lots of theories; we just don’t have the evidence,’” Bowers said. “And I don’t know if that was a gaffe or maybe he didn’t think through what he said. But both myself and others in my group — the three in my group and my counsel — both remembered that specifically.”
Bowers said Trump lawyer John Eastman also inquired about decertifying the electors — supposedly so the courts could decide — at which point Bowers offered a similar response about the lack of evidence to back that up, even if he could do it.
“And I said, ‘You’re asking me to do something that’s never been done in history — the history of the United States. And I’m not going to put my state through that without sufficient proof? And that’s going to be good enough with me? … No, sir.”
The committee previously introduced testimony and evidence that Eastman both acknowledged and was told the Jan. 6 plot broke the law. A White House lawyer also said Giuliani conceded to him that the plot was unlikely to stand up in court.
Bowers added that when he found out the Trump campaign had designated fake electors in Arizona on Dec. 14, his reaction was that “this is a tragic parody.”
He also said that, as late as the morning of Jan. 6, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) called and asked him to sign a letter supporting decertification of Arizona’s electors.”
2. RNC CHAIR LINKS TRUMP TO FAKE-ELECTOR PLOT
“At one point in Tuesday’s hearing, the committee shared evidence that Trump was pretty directly involved in the fake-elector plan.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Trump, on a conference call, introduced Eastman to talk about having the fake electors in place as a contingency.
“Essentially, he turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing changed the result of any of the states,” McDaniel testified.
McDaniel didn’t say Trump himself was involved in designating the potentially illegal electors. And at this point, the effort was cast as having the electors in place as a contingency in case states overturned their results — rather than as part of the effort to overturn the electoral votes on Jan. 6, regardless of whether the electors were validated.
But it suggests Trump was clued in on this part of the effort early on. And since those fake electors might have been illegal even at that early juncture — and were ultimately used as part of the Jan. 6 plot — that matters.
The committee also revealed that, on Jan. 6, Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) chief of staff inquired with Pence’s staff about Johnson giving Vice President Mike Pence lists of Michigan’s and Wisconsin’s fake electors. A Pence aide instructed the Johnson aide not to deliver the list.
Johnson’s office responded to the committee evidence by saying Johnson himself “had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office.”
3.OFFICIALS TALK ABOUT INTENSE PRESSURE, PROTESTERS NEAR FAMILIES
“The Jan. 6 committee on June 21 showed a produced video of President Trump’s efforts to pressure election officials to unlawfully undo his loss
To start the hearing Tuesday, the committee laid out new evidence showing just how much pressure — and even, in some cases, apparent harassment — the Trump team’s allies subjected state officials to.
The committee repeatedly featured video of Georgia state election official Gabriel Sterling’s news conference from Dec. 1, 2020. Sterling, who also testified Tuesday, pleaded for Trump and his allies to “stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence” or “someone’s going to get killed” — a warning that proved prescient come Jan. 6.
[Other major revelations included the following: ]
• Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) said he received “just shy of 4,000 text messages over a short period of time calling [me] to take action” after Trump retweeted his phone number. Shirkey said the people who texted “were believing things that were not true.”
• Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R) received daily calls from Trump’s legal team, to the point where he had his lawyers ask for it to stop because it was inappropriate, according to the committee. But Giuliani kept calling. Cutler also said his 15-year-old son was home by himself during an early protest at their residence.
• Bowers said his office received 20,000 emails and “tens of thousands” of voice mails. He said in one case there was a man with “three bars on his chest” (apparently a reference to the Three Percenters) “and he had a pistol and was threatening my neighbor — not with the pistol, but just vocally.” Bowers added that “at the same time on some of these, we had a daughter who was gravely ill, who was upset by what was happening outside.” (Bowers’s daughter died weeks after Jan. 6.)
• Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) testified about protesters gathering near her house: “My stomach sunk, and I thought, ‘It’s me. … Are they coming with guns? Are they going to attack my house? I’m in here with my kid. I’m trying to put him to bed.’ And so that was the scariest moment — just not knowing what was going to happen.”
• Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) described his wife as having been harassed and added that “some people broke into my daughter-in-law’s home.” He added that “my son has passed, [so] she’s a widow and has two kids.”
This all drove home that it wasn’t just Jan. 6, and it wasn’t just Sterling. Officials, including some Republicans, were under intense pressure at the time — the kind of pressure that could be compelling to those who weren’t dug in or didn’t have to abide by certain laws by virtue of their positions.”
4. ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE GOP TESTIFIES ABOUT TRUMP’S FALSE STATEMENTS
“On top of the evidence that Trump and his team were told that their voter-fraud claims were false and made them anyway, we now have evidence that they have not told the truth about what their own GOP allies were saying.
Last week, Greg Jacob, then general counsel to Pence, testified that the Trump campaign’s Jan. 5, 2021, statement saying that Pence was “in total agreement that the vice president has the power to act” on Jan. 6 was “categorically untrue.” In a taped deposition, Trump campaign aide Jason Miller testified that Trump “dictated most of” that statement.
On Tuesday, Bowers called out another example. Shortly before Bowers’s testimony, Trump put out a statement attacking him. Trump claimed that Bowers told him in November 2020 that the Arizona vote was “rigged” and that he won the state. Bowers said it never happened. “I did have a conversation with the president; that certainly isn’t it,” he said, calling the allegation “false.”
The link to the quoted full, unedited Washington Post news report is here:
JUNE 22 HEARING TAKEAWAYS
On June 22, the New York Times published its report on the June 22 hearing providing an analysis written by staff writer Michael S. Schmidt. Following are the 7 major takeaways reported:
1. IT WAS THE MOST BLATANT ATTEMPT TO USE THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FOR POLITICAL ENDS AT LEAST SINCE WATERGATE
“Mr. Trump aggressively pursued a plan to install as acting attorney general a little-known Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, who was prepared to take actions to reverse the election results. As they fought to head off the move, a group of White House lawyers and the leadership of the Justice Department feared that the plan was so ill-conceived and dishonest that it would have spiraled the country into a constitutional crisis if it had succeeded.
The president came so close to appointing Mr. Clark that the White House had already begun referring to him as the acting attorney general in call logs from Jan. 3, 2021. Later that day, Mr. Trump had a dramatic Oval Office showdown with top Justice Department officials and White House lawyers, who told Mr. Trump that there would be a “graveyard” at the Justice Department if he appointed Mr. Clark because so many top officials would resign.”
2. TRUMP LEANED ON JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO INVESTIGATE ELECTION FRAUD CLAIMS
“The House Jan. 6 committee painted a picture of how President Donald J. Trump schemed to pressure the Justice Department into overturning the 2020 election.
In the meeting, Mr. Trump chastised the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, for refusing to do more to help him find election fraud. Only after hours of argument — partly about the lack of substance behind Mr. Trump’s claims of election fraud but also about the political ramifications for him if he took action that led to the exodus of top Justice Department officials — did Mr. Trump relent and back off his plan to replace Mr. Rosen with Mr. Clark.”
3. THE HEART OF THE SCHEME WAS A DRAFT LETTER TO OFFICIALS IN GEORGIA
“At the center of the plan was a letter drafted by Mr. Clark and another Trump loyalist that they hoped to send to state officials in Georgia. The letter falsely asserted that the department had evidence of election fraud that could lead the state to rethink its certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory there. The letter recommended that the state call its legislature into session to study allegations of election fraud and consider naming an alternate slate of electors pledged to Mr. Trump.
The department’s top officials and Mr. Trump’s legal team in the White House were all appalled by the letter because it would be giving the imprimatur of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies to claims of election fraud that the department had repeatedly investigated and found baseless. The letter was so outrageous that a top White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, testified that he told Mr. Clark that if he became attorney general and sent the letter he would be committing a felony.
The Justice Department’s acting deputy attorney general, Richard P. Donoghue, testified at the hearing that sending it would have been tantamount to the Justice Department intervening in the outcome of the election.
“For the department to insert itself into the political process this way, I think would have had grave consequences for the country,” Mr. Donoghue said. “It may have spiraled us into a constitutional crisis.”
4. TRUMP WOULD NOT GIVE UP ON HIS CLAIMS OF FRAUD
“Time after time, the White House brought baseless and sometimes preposterous claims of election fraud — including internet conspiracy theories — to Justice Department officials so that they could use the nation’s law enforcement powers to investigate them. And time after time, the department and the F.B.I. found the claims had no validity.
The pattern became so extraordinary that at one point the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, sent a YouTube video to department officials from Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, that claimed an Italian defense contractor uploaded software to a satellite that switched votes from Mr. Trump.
A top Defense Department official, Kashyap Patel, followed up with Mr. Donoghue about the claim, and the acting defense secretary, Christopher C. Miller, reached out to a defense attaché in Italy to discuss the claim, which was never substantiated.
About 90 minutes after Mr. Donoghue had helped persuade Mr. Trump not to install Mr. Clark as acting attorney general, Mr. Trump would still not let go, calling Mr. Donoghue on his cellphone with another request: to look into a report that an immigration and customs agent in Georgia had seized a truck full of shredded ballots. There turned out to be nothing to it, Mr. Donoghue testified.”
5. TRUMP CONSIDERED NAMING A LOYALIST LAWYER AS A SPECIAL COUNSEL
As Mr. Trump searched for any way to substantiate the false fraud claims, he tried to install a loyalist as a special counsel to investigate them. One of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, Sidney Powell — who had become a public face of Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the election — said in testimony played by the committee that Mr. Trump discussed with her the possibility of taking on that position in December.
The committee also played testimony of William P. Barr, who was attorney general until the middle of December 2020, saying that there was no basis to appoint a special counsel. And the committee suggested that the idea was part of the larger effort to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Mr. Biden’s victory and open the door to Congress considering alternate slates of Trump electors from swing states.
“So let’s think here, what would a special counsel do?” said Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, who led the day’s questioning. “With only days to go until election certification, it wasn’t to investigate anything. An investigation, led by a special counsel, would just create an illusion of legitimacy and provide fake cover for those who would want to object, including those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.”
Mr. Kinzinger added: “All of President Trump’s plans for the Justice Department were being rebuffed.”
6. MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SOUGHT PARDONS — AND TRUMP CONSIDERED THE REQUESTS7.
In the days after Jan. 6, several of Mr. Trump’s political allies on Capitol Hill, who had helped stoke the false election claims and efforts to overturn the results, sought pardons from Mr. Trump, who considered granting them, according to testimony on Thursday.
Among those looking for a pardon was Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida. Mr. Gaetz was seeking a blanket pardon that would have essentially covered any crime he had committed in his entire life. Although it was not known publicly at the time, Mr. Gaetz was under Justice Department investigation for paying a 17-year-old girl for sex.
“The general tone was, ‘We may get prosecuted because we were defensive of, you know, the president’s positions on these things,’” Mr. Herschmann, the White House lawyer, said in a video clip of his testimony. “The pardon that he was requesting was as broad as you could describe. I remember he said ‘from the beginning of time up until today. For any and all things.”
“Nixon’s pardon was never nearly that broad,” Mr. Herschmann recalled saying at the time in response to the request.
A slew of other allies asked for them. Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, sent an email to the White House seeking so called pre-emptive pardons for all House and Senate members who had voted to reject the Electoral College vote certifications of Mr. Biden’s victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
A former aide to Mr. Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that several other Republican House members expressed interest in pardons, including Mr. Perry and Representatives Louie Gohmert of Texas and Andy Biggs of Arizona.
Ms. Hutchinson said she had also heard that Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia had reached out to the White House Counsel’s Office about a pardon.
Mr. Trump “had hinted at a blanket pardon for the Jan. 6 thing for anybody,” Mr. Trump’s former head of presidential personnel, John McEntee, testified.
Mr. Kinzinger suggested that the pardon requests were evidence that Mr. Trump’s allies had consciousness of guilt.
“The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime,” he said.
7. MAKING A CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST TRUMP
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack appears to be laying out evidence that could allow prosecutors to indict former President Donald J. Trump, though the path to a criminal trial is uncertain.
Here are the main themes that have emerged so far:
AN UNSETTLING NARRATIVE: During the first hearing, the committee described in vivid detail what it characterized as an attempted coup orchestrated by the former president that culminated in the assault on the Capitol. At the heart of the gripping story were three main players: Mr. Trump, the Proud Boys and a Capitol Police officer.
CREATING ELECTION LIES: In its second hearing, the panel showed how Mr. Trump ignored aides and advisers as he declared victory prematurely and relentlessly pressed claims of fraud he was told were wrong. “He’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” William P. Barr, the former attorney general, said of Mr. Trump during a videotaped interview.
PRESSURING PENCE: Mr. Trump continued pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to go along with a plan to overturn his loss even after he was told it was illegal, according to testimony laid out by the panel during the third hearing. The committee showed how Mr. Trump’s actions led his supporters to storm the Capitol, sending Mr. Pence fleeing for his life.
FAKE ELECTOR PLAN: The committee used its fourth hearing to detail how Mr. Trump was personally involved in a scheme to put forward fake electors. The panel also presented fresh details on how the former president leaned on state officials to invalidate his defeat, opening them up to violent threats when they refused.
STRONG ARMING THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: During the fifth hearing, the panel explored Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging and relentless scheme to misuse the Justice Department to keep himself in power. The panel also presented evidence that at least half a dozen Republican members of Congress sought pre-emptive pardons.
The link to the quoted full unedited New York Times report is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Any and all doubts that Donald Trump is a fascist should be laid to rest by the evidence presented by the United State House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. There is little doubt that the testimony presented by member’s of Trump’s own administration revealed a man so desperate to hold onto power that he attempted to interfere with the peaceful transition of power and to overthrow the United States democracy. It is could and will happen again if Der Führer Trump runs for President again, unless of course he is indicted and convicted for the crimes he committed with his failed attempt to overthrow our democracy.
The link to a related blog article is here: