Jan. 6 panel to hear from Raffensperger, others Trump pushed
The January 6 House Committee will hear from local officials who resisted Donald Trump's call to annul the 2020 presidential elections.
The January 6 House Committee will hear from the defenders of American democracy — election workers and municipal officials — who have resisted Donald Trump's calls to annul the 2020 presidential election, despite terrifying personal insults.
The hearings into the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol resume on Tuesday to look into Trump's relentless effort to undo Joe Biden's victory in the most local way possible — by relying on officials in key battleground states to reject ballots outright or submit alternative electors for the final tally in Congress. The strain was exacerbated by the lost President's fraudulent charges of voter fraud, which, according to the panel, led directly to the Capitol riot.
Embattled Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is set to testify about Trump's phone call telling him to "find 11,780" votes that may flip the state and prevent Biden from winning the election.
Raffensperger, his deputy Gabe Sterling, and Arizona's Republican state House Speaker Rusty Bowers are scheduled to testify, as is Wandrea "Shay" Moss, a former Georgia election worker who has said she and her mother faced such severe public harassment from Trump allies that they felt unable to live normal lives.
“I’m appalled at what I saw,” Bowers said of the hearings in an interview Monday with AP after arriving in Washington. “I think it illuminates something we need to see big time and take stock of ourselves. And I hope it would sober us.”
The Tuesday hearing, the fourth by the panel this month, stems from its yearlong investigation into Trump’s unprecedented attempt to remain in power, a sprawling scheme that the chairman of the Jan. six committee has likened to an “attempted coup".
According to a select committee staffer, the focus on Tuesday will be on how Trump was repeatedly warned that his pressure campaign could result in violence against local leaders and their families but continued with it nonetheless. It will also highlight how the repercussions of Trump's lies continue to this day, with election officials suffering public harassment and political opponents attempting to take over their posts.
While the Committee cannot prosecute Trump for any crimes, the Justice Department is closely monitoring the group's work. Trump's conduct in Georgia is also being investigated by a grand jury, with the district attorney expecting to release findings this year.
“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,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
The panel will also look at the "intimate role" that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows played in the effort to pressure Georgia state legislators and election officials, according to Schiff, who will lead much of Tuesday's session.
Raffensperger, Georgia's chief election official, refused Trump's request that he "find" enough ballots to reverse Biden's victory in the state, which was recorded during a phone call days before the Jan. 6 attack.
During the discussion, Trump frequently invoked disproven charges of fraud and threatened Georgia officials with a "criminal violation" if the vote total was not changed. The state counted its votes three times before recognizing Biden's victory by a margin of 11,779 votes.
Raffensperger's public testimony comes weeks after he testified before a special grand jury in Georgia investigating whether Trump and others attempted to illegally influence the state's 2020 race and after Raffensperger defeated a Trump-backed candidate in last month's primary election. “Death threats, physical threats, intimidation — it’s too much, it’s not right,” he said.
Bowers is likely to address the pressure he experienced from Trump advisors to overturn Arizona's election results, which the Republican state leader termed "juvenile" on Monday.
He told AP after arriving in Washington ahead of the hearing that he expects to be questioned about a phone call with Trump during which lawyer Rudy Giuliani suggested the notion of replacing Arizona's electors with Trump supporters.
Bowers also revealed a second phone chat with Trump in December 2020, which he described as just small talk, albeit Trump mentioned their earlier conversation.
Moss, a Fulton County elections department employee since 2012, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, a temporary election worker, filed a slander case in December 2021.
Shee said that conservative news site One America News Network and Giuliani propagated false charges about her and her mother engaging in ballot fraud during the election. The complaint against OAN has now been settled and dismissed.
Bowers and Moss, as well as the panel's vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., received this year's John F. Kennedy Profiles in Daring award "for their courage to safeguard and defend democracy."
The select committee also wants to uncover the intricate "fake electors" scam that was intended to derail Biden's electoral victory on Tuesday. The plan called for officials in as many as seven battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico — to sign certificates falsely claiming that Trump, not Biden, had won.
In the weeks following the election, Trump's lawyer, conservative legal professor John Eastman, promoted the bogus electors. On January 2, 2021, Trump and Eastman had a conference call with hundreds of electors, asking them to send alternative slates from states where Trump's team claimed fraud.
The goal behind the bogus electors was to set up a challenge on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress convened in a joint session, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding over what is generally a ceremonial function to accept the states' vote counts. However, the effort failed when Pence rebuffed Trump's repeated requests that he simply halt the certification of Biden's victory - a power he believed he lacked in his strictly ceremonial capacity.
The Committee claims it will also demonstrate on Tuesday that it has acquired enough evidence through its more than 1,000 interviews and tens of thousands of documents to explicitly link the various efforts to overturn the election to Trump. The House panel subpoenaed at least 20 people in connection with the fake electors' plot.