Trump’s ‘big lie’ takes center stage in second January 6 hearing

A former Trump campaign manager and a U.S. lawyer whom the then president weighed firing are among those who will testify on Monday as the Jan. 6 committee works to show how Trump moved forward with his intention to stay in power despite being “told over and over again that he had no [the] numbers to be won.

“Tomorrow’s hearing centers on the big lie: the former president’s decision to ignore the will of the voters, declare victory in an election he lost, spread accusations of fraud and then decide to ‘ignore court rulings when the judgment of course hasn’t followed through,’ a committee aide said in a call with reporters.

Stepien will be joined on a panel by Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor who was a member of the network team that made the decision to call Arizona for current President Biden on election night 2020.

BJay Pak, a former U.S. attorney in Georgia, will speak publicly for the first time since stepping down as Trump railed against the Justice Department’s refusal to investigate his baseless allegations of voter fraud. Pak will be joined by conservative election lawyer Ben Ginsberg and Al Schmidt, a Republican election official in Philadelphia who angered Trump after he refused to say the 2020 election was rigged.

Monday’s hearing, the second in a series scheduled after Thursday’s prime-time kickoff, is an important part of the committee’s plan to show that “Trump oversaw a sophisticated seven-part plan to cancel the presidential election,” as Vice President Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) put it.

His first day hearing is all about laying out what Trump learned about his prospects for victory and allegations of voter fraud and how he resisted legal methods to question election results.

This point is key to showing Trump’s culpability and would demonstrate that his actions – whether to pressure the Justice Department to investigate, to energize his base for election security reasons, to appealed to state and federal officials to help his cause — were taken knowing his campaign claims were fraudulent.

This is a point that would probably also interest the Ministry of Justice, if it were to weigh charges against the former president.

“The former president didn’t have the numbers to win the election; he was told, he chose to declare victory anyway. The former president’s allegations of fraud were baseless. He was told this over and over again, and he still kept repeating these claims,” the committee aide said.

The committee devoted much of its energy to this subject during its first hearing. They released snippets of video footage of depositions with another Trump campaign staffer saying shortly after the election that Trump had been told “in pretty candid terms that he was going to lose.”

And he twice showed clips of former Attorney General Bill Barr making the same point, saying there was “absolutely no basis for the allegations” and that Trump’s claims were “nonsense. complete”.

The committee even flashed his daughter Ivanka Trump referencing Barr saying, ‘I accepted what he was saying’

The combination of witnesses shows that the committee wants to trace the allegations of voter fraud in the campaign, through the conservative media, and even through its fundraising, and the impact it has had at the state level and in the justice system. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) is expected to play an important role as she walks through the evidence.

The committee subpoenaed Stepien in November, noting his involvement in “Stop the Steal” rallies held on behalf of Trump, including promoting demands around issues with voting machines “despite a internal memo in which campaign staff determined these claims to be false.

He also led a campaign to “call on states to delay or deny certification of electoral votes and send multiple lists of electoral votes to the United States Congress,” the committee said in November.

Stepien told multiple media that he would appear before the panel under subpoena. The committee aide declined to answer questions on Sunday about Stepien’s likely cooperation as a witness.

However, witnesses often appear before committees or their investigators under “friendly subpoena”, and Stepien has not taken any legal action to challenge the committee’s request to testify.

Stepien is also an adviser to the campaign of Harriet Hageman, a Trump-backed Cheney challenger in Wyoming’s GOP primary.

In the month after the 2020 election, Pak was at the intersection of Trump’s goal of both “finding” additional votes in Georgia and replacing his DOJ leaders if they didn’t investigate. his alleged fraud there.

“Pak’s office had investigated and refuted various allegations of voter fraud in Georgia,” said a Senate Judiciary Committee Review of Trump’s efforts at the Justice Department concluded last October.

This included allegations by Trump lawyer Rudy Guliani that officials there fled with a suitcase of ballots without the supervision of Republican observers.

“In reality, the ‘suitcase’ was a secure voting container, and the ballots were counted in the presence of poll watchers from both parties,” the Senate panel wrote in its report.

But as Trump grew more obsessed with securing action in Georgia, he mentioned Pak, even after he was talked out of firing his own Justice Department leadership in favor of someone opening an investigation. the low.

“Atlanta, Atlanta, no surprises there. They found nothing. No surprise because we have a never-Trumper there as a US Attorney,” Trump reportedly said.

Pak abruptly resigned on January 5, despite intending to stay on until inauguration day.

Ginsberg, a longtime election lawyer on behalf of Republicans, sounded the alarm over allegations of voter fraud that Trump began airing ahead of Election Day.

“The truth is that in all these years Republicans have found only isolated cases of fraud. Evidence of systematic fraud has become the Loch Ness Monster of the Republican Party. People have spent a lot of time looking at it. seek, but it does not exist,” Ginsberg wrote in an op-ed days before the 2020 election, warning that the GOP “is destroying itself on the altar of Trump.”

“As he faces defeat, Trump has dedicated his campaign and the Republican Party to this myth of voter fraud. Failing to be able to articulate a compelling plan for a second term or find an attack on Joe Biden that will last, depriving enough voters has become key to his re-election strategy. Maybe that was the plan all along,” Ginsberg added.

Schmidt, a former Philadelphia city commissioner, has also seen the impact of Trump’s voter fraud allegations firsthand. He received death threats in the aftermath of the election because of his role on the city’s electoral board, including following comments that “bad actors” were “lying” about the process of compiling elections. votes.