Trump’s pressure on state GOP to take center stage
Former President Trump’s role in pushing state officials across the country to bypass election requirements and aid him in claiming victory will take center stage Tuesday for the fourth hearing from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
“We’ll be taking a close look at how the president and his allies came up with these schemes to pressure Republican-controlled legislatures and other state officials to reverse the certification of his electoral loss,” a committee aide told reporters on Monday.
“We’ll demonstrate that President Trump and his allies drove the pressure campaign based on lies. These lies led to threats that put state and local officials and their families at risk. These lies perpetuated the public’s belief that the election was stolen, tainted by widespread fraud, and these lies also contributed to the violence on Jan. 6.”
Appearing before the committee Tuesday will be Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state who Trump called just days before the Jan. 6 certification of votes asking him to “find 11,870 votes” — just enough to make Trump the victor of the state.
Raffensperger’s deputy, Gabe Sterling, and former Georgia election worker Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, will also testify.
But Trump’s efforts weren’t just limited to Georgia.
Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) will also speak to multiple efforts to pressure him to take action to unwind the election, an effort that included a call from Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Central to Tuesday’s hearing are Trump’s efforts to pressure election officials, a plot that also included a plan to craft false election certificates claiming that Trump had won in key states that he had actually lost.
In an effort to capitalize on its baseless claims of voter fraud, the campaign hoped that former Vice President Mike Pence would seat the rogue electors from seven battleground states — a suggestion that was laid out for the campaign in a memo from attorney John Eastman.
The strategy was also forwarded by many others in Trump’s orbit. Text messages to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows show former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Donald Trump Jr. and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) encouraging the pursuit of the idea.
“Have a team on it,” Meadows responded to one of the messages.
In January, the committee sent subpoenas to 14 people who helped coordinate the so called “alternate electors” plan. That list included state GOP officials and activists from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In February, the panel subpoenaed six others involved in the effort, including campaign officials and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who has since won the GOP primary.
The group went as far as to send false election certificates to the National Archives claiming Trump had won.
The panel also sent a subpoena to Giuliani to uncover work he did to “convince state legislators to overturn the election.”
Trump’s campaign spent the months of November and December 2020 working its way through different state contacts.
Trump called canvassers in Michigan and even invited some of the state’s Republican state lawmakers to the White House for a meeting. Trump and Giuliani would go on to call Bowers and attempt to get in touch with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R). The two men made similar efforts in Pennsylvania.
Like in prior hearings, the committee will rely heavily on testimony from Republicans, in this case focusing on how officials like Bowers were made deeply uncomfortable by Trump’s requests.
“We will highlight some of the heroes of the story — many of them Republican officials — but public servants who didn’t give into the pressure campaign, who remained true to their oaths to their duties as public servants. They prioritized their duty to uphold the law and the constitution over the pressure campaign, over loyalty to any party or any individual,” the aide said.
Trump’s fake elector scheme is already being investigated by the Justice Department, which launched the probe after state officials and lawmakers raised concerns over criminal wrongdoing.
It’s also the subject of an investigation by prosecutors in Georgia.
Georgia will be a special focus of Tuesday’s hearing, as will the threats to election workers.
Moss’s testimony will touch on both, after the election worker was name-checked by Trump and falsely accused of counting fake ballots and double counting ballots for President Biden. The accusation resulted in death threats for the Georgia election worker, who later sued conservative cable news channel One America News for defamation.
“What you’ll take away is that President Trump was warned that his actions, including repeating these false claims, risked inciting violence, and he did it anyway,” the aide said.
“You’ll hear ultimately how this threat is not over. Threats to election workers and continuing efforts to undermine our country’s faith in democratic institutions are real, they’re a danger to our democracy and lies about the 2020 election and lies about insecure elections are ongoing.”
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