“Some of those individuals…repeated the same lies the former president preached in the run-up to the uprising,” a select committee official said Sunday night.
The select committee’s focus on the so-called Big Lie represents the panel’s attempt to tell the origin story of what would eventually lead to the violent attack on the Capitol 17 months ago. The panel has come to see Trump’s preparation to delegitimize election results as beginning well before Election Day, with his attempt to question the integrity of mail voting — even as numerous states began to use it. expand during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While even many allies had urged him to embrace postal voting, Trump resisted and immediately made it the center of his effort to cast doubt on the results of the election.
Within days of Nov. 3 — even before the Joe Biden election was called — one of Trump’s advisers, Cleta Mitchell, cited these state laws as a reason to push state lawmakers to appoint pro-Trump voters. In the meantime, Trump turned to allies to promote his increasingly outlandish claims of fraud, even as court after court dismissed them.
To tell this part of the story, the panel will turn to former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. Stepien attended campaign discussions about Trump’s chances in the election, and the committee claims he can talk about the campaign’s reliance on election fraud claims to raise money. Stepien appears under subpoena, according to a source familiar with the scheme.
Stepien will appear alongside former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, who drew Trump’s outrage — and was eventually fired from the network — after calling Arizona for Biden, a projection that ultimately turned out to be true. Fox was the first to call the state for Biden. The panel may also use Stirewalt’s appearance to highlight the role pro-Trump media played in spreading his false claims. The panel has already highlighted some Fox News hosts’ private communications with senior White House officials.
The select committee plans to hold a document-based and fact-rich hearing Monday, packed with evidence proving Trump’s spread of lies about the election results. The hearing will include a second panel that will include prominent GOP election attorney Ben Ginsberg, former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt and former US Attorney for North Georgia BJay Pak, who resigned amid Trump’s attempt to reverse the election results. .
Pak previously testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the pressure Trump and his allies put on him and other officials to get them to investigate false claims of voter fraud.
While it is expected that the chair of the selected committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) will play a prominent role, the hearing will also see significant involvement from Rep. Zoe. Lofgren (D-Calif). .), a veteran of multiple presidential impeachment investigations and high-profile congressional investigations.
For months, the select committee has focused on how Trump has cultivated a network of powerful enablers who have helped his lie take root in wide corners of the Republican Party. Members of Congress have often been willing channels for Trump’s misinformation, and Lofgren has previously cataloged their prolific use of social media in support of Trump’s claims.
The select committee also subpoenaed to obtain internal Republican National Committee files, which are held by third-party vendor Salesforce. Although the panel won early rounds in the trial, the case remains stalled in the appeals court — depriving the committee of metrics assessing the reach and impact of the Trump campaign and RNC’s concerted fundraising efforts in the aftermath of the election. would demonstrate.
Aides stressed that this process was ongoing and that the hearings are only the “initial” findings of the committee. More details may emerge in the months that follow as the lawsuit progresses.
The select committee has already revealed some evidence that Trump knew his allegations of voter fraud were unfounded. On Thursday, the panel aired clips of former Attorney General Bill Barr telling the commission that he told Trump his fraud claims were “bullshit.” And the panel played snippets of testimony from Trump campaign staffers Jason Miller and Alex Cannon, who told the panel that they had told Trump the numbers weren’t in his favor. An excerpt of Miller’s testimony was placed in public court documents earlier this year.
Trump replied that he was sure the lawsuits his campaign had waged would reverse the results, according to Miller’s testimony. But when they didn’t, the panel notes, Trump attacked the courts — including some statements by his own appointees — and pushed ahead with attempts to undo the election anyway.
On Wednesday, the select committee plans to take testimonies from senior Trump Justice Department leaders who similarly helped debunk Trump’s fraud claims and found them to be baseless. Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and former Chief of the Office of Legal Counsel Steve Engel are among those expected to testify. The three men are also expected to testify to Trump’s plan to install a more lenient attorney general in the days leading up to Jan. 6, and how widespread threats to resign from DOJ leaders and Trump’s own White House officials. advisor prevented the effort.
Monday’s hearings begin at 10 a.m.