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Hearing to Show How Trump Exerted Pressure at the State and Local Levels
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The January 6 House Select Committee will reconvene Tuesday afternoon for its fourth public hearing on the investigation into the attack on the US Capitol and Donald Trump’s role in inciting the insurrection. Today’s session will spotlight the extensive pressure that then-President Trump put on state officials in an attempt to stay in office after losing the 2020 election.
Prominent state-level Republicans are scheduled to appear before today’s panel — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his Chief Operating Officer, Gabriel Sterling. In addition to testimony about Trump’s pressure campaign in Georgia, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, also a Republican, is scheduled to give his account of what happened in that swing state.
Trump definitively lost both Georgia and Arizona to President Biden in 2020, but he and his reelection campaign officials continued to push top officials in those states to overturn the election results by any means, that included an alternate slate of electors scheme.
According to aides on the Jan. 6 Committee, the panel intends to show that Trump “risked undermining confidence in our democratic institutions [by using]…false claims of election fraud.” The House Select Committee also intends to show that in pressuring state and local officials, Trump and his campaign team knowingly “risked violence.”
In a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call to Georgia’s Secretary of State, then-President Trump urged Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to make him the winner (see the video embedded in the tweet below). Raffensperger refused to do what Trump told him to do, and publicly refuted the president's false claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia. We can expect to hear Raffensperger testify about the personal and professional fallout from his decision to count the votes properly, including the death threats made against himself and his family.
Both Raffensperger and his deputy, Gabriel Sterling received death threats for defending the integrity of Georgia's election and Raffensperger was censured by the Georgia Republican Party for refusing Trump’s demands. In a pivotal recent election, Raffensperger defeated Jody Hice, the Trump-backed candidate who challenged him in the Republican primary last month for secretary of state.
The Committee will also hear from Arizona Republican Rusty Bowers, who openly backed Trump for President in 2020. Bowers will explain that he received a call from both Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, in late November 2020 following the election, in which they urged Bowers to have the state legislature substitute a slate of presidential electors. Had Bowers employed the method that Trump had demanded, Joe Biden’s win in the state would have essentially been overridden, in direct defiance of the US Constitution.
Bowers also received an email from Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in early November 2020 urging him to select a "clean slate of electors." The House Committee is also in possession of email correspondence between Ginni Thomas, and Trump Attorney John Eastman, who played a key role in efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. The Committee has since sent a letter to Ginni Thomas, asking for her to speak voluntarily to the panel.
Former Fulton County, Georgia, election worker Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss is also scheduled to appear to give her testimony before the Special Committee in today’s hearing. Donald Trump targeted Moss directly after he made phony claims about election fraud at the State Farm Arena in Georgia.
Trump accused Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, of rigging the November 2020 election for Joe Biden with “suitcases” of ballots on election night. The pair were then featured in a video that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called a “smoking gun” for voting fraud at the State Farm Arena. A state and federal investigation determined that they had done nothing wrong, but due to Trump’s bogus accusations, Moss faced death threats and racist taunts, which forced her into hiding.
Moss is expected to focus her testimony on Trump’s actions in Georgia in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. Moss has also since reached a settlement with One America News after she filed suit alleging the network aired stories that falsely accused her and her mother of committing ballot fraud to alter the election outcome. Moss remains in litigation with Rudy Giuliani, who is also a defendant in her lawsuit.
Tuesday's hearing will kick off the third week of proceedings for the Jan. 6 select committee, which is laying out for Americans how Trump mounted a multi-pronged campaign to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and stop the peaceful transfer of power, culminating in the violent attack on the Capitol building.
Earlier hearings have focused on the violence that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6 as law enforcement struggled to control the mob of Trump's supporters who descended on the Capitol at Trump’s request; Trump's decision to declare victory on election night even though he knew there was no evidence to support his claims; and the former president's threats to force Vice President Mike Pence to reject state electoral votes and unilaterally declare Trump the winner of the election.
Most major news channels will provide live coverage of today’s hearing, which is slated to begin at 1:00om/ET. You can also watch the proceedings live online here. I will be live-tweeting the hearing as well, and you can follow along with my feed in real-time, or catch up on the events later.
Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines, and analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.
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