Jan. 6 panel shifts to pressure campaign on state election officials
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol will turn its attention this week to efforts by former President Trump and his allies to pressure state-level election officials to overturn 2020 election results in his favor.
The committee’s public hearings so far this month have centered on a specific angle aimed at crafting a case that Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol that included the intense pressure campaign he put on former Vice President Mike Pence to reject Electoral College votes from certain states Trump lost, costing him the election.
“One pressure campaign, as we saw last week, on the vice president to ignore the Constitution put the vice president’s life in danger,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the Jan. 6 panel, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“This week, we will hear about how a similar pressure campaign directed against state and local elections officials put their lives in danger,” he continued.
Schiff said the committee has evidence that Trump himself was involved in the effort, but when pressed, he declined to say if Trump directed the efforts.
“We will show during a hearing what the president’s role was in trying to get states to name alternate slates of electors, how that scheme depended initially on hopes that the legislatures would reconvene and bless it,” he said.
The committee has not yet announced its witnesses for Tuesday’s hearing, which begins at 1 p.m.
Individuals in seven states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — reportedly sought to send alternate electors to cast Electoral College votes for Trump. The committee has subpoenaed a range of people involved in those efforts.
A proposal circulated by Trump campaign attorney John Eastman in the lead-up to Jan. 6 suggested Pence could avoid counting Electoral College votes from those states that submitted multiple slates of electors, potentially kicking the matter back to the state legislatures.
The committee last week sent a letter seeking testimony from Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, after the panel learned she sent emails to Eastman and 29 Arizona state lawmakers to help reverse Biden’s win there.
“We will show courageous state officials who stood up and said they wouldn’t go along with this plan to either call legislatures back into session or decertify the results for Joe Biden,” Schiff said on CNN. “The system held because a lot of state and local elections officials upheld their oath to the Constitution.”
Some of Trump’s efforts to pressure state-level officials are widely documented.
In a now-infamous January 2021 phone call, Trump suggested to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) that he could “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s victory in the state, but Raffensperger refused to do so.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), another member of the Jan. 6 panel, similarly said on ABC’s “This Week” that the committee believes Trump was personally aware of the campaign to pressure states.
“We’re going to have a discussion Tuesday about state pressure,” Kinzinger said. “And so you can see where the president knew all of that stuff. We can, I think, show the American people that.”
The panel had postponed one of its hearings last week that was expected to detail another pressure campaign by Trump to have the Department of Justice (DOJ) put its might behind his baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Kinzinger said on Sunday that the committee’s second hearing this week scheduled for Thursday will focus on the department.
Court records filed by the Jan. 6 panel in March revealed details of a Jan. 3, 2021, meeting where Trump weighed firing DOJ leaders who would not carry out an investigation into the voter fraud claims.
Trump sought to install midlevel DOJ attorney Jeffrey Clark, one of his allies, as acting attorney general to forward an investigation but opted against the move upon being warned of mass resignations at the department if he followed through.