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The House Select Committee on January 6 outlined during a three-hour hearing on Tuesday what it claims was a concentrated effort by former President Trump to mobilize his supporters in an effort to overturn the Electoral College’s certification of the 2020 election.
The committee produced testimony from former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone who, along with Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, agreed with former Attorney General Bill Barr’s conclusion that widespread voter fraud did not affect the outcome of the 2020 election.
“It’s fair to say that I agree with Attorney General Barr’s conclusion on Dec. 1,” Cipollone said, referencing Barr’s conclusion.
Members of Trump’s inner circle testified about a screaming match in the White House in a Dec. 18 meeting between those in Trump’s camp, including attorney Sidney Powell and adviser Michael Flynn, that believed voter fraud had swayed the election and those that did not.
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“I’m going to categorically describe it as, ‘You guys are not tough enough,'” former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said about the heated exchange. “Or maybe I put it another way, ‘You guys are a bunch of p——.”
Former Trump senior adviser Eric Herschmann testified that Flynn screamed at him during the meeting and called him a “quitter.”
Former Trump counselor Derek Lyons said the meeting consisted of Trump attorney Sidney Powell “fighting” for “avenues” that would result in Trump staying in power for a second term.
A major focus of the hearing was Trump’s Dec. 19 tweets, the morning after that meeting, about a “big protest” at the coming joint session of Congress: “Be there, will be wild!”
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Florida Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy said the tweet “served as a call to action and in some cases as a call to arms.” She said the president “called for backup” as he said Vice President Mike Pence and other Republicans didn’t have enough courage to try to block President Joe Biden’s win at the Jan. 6 joint sessions.
The tweet “electrified and galvanized” Trump’s supporters, said Raskin, especially “the dangerous extremists in the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and other racist and white nationalist groups spoiling for a fight.”
“Many of Trump’s followers took to social media to declare that they were ready to answer Trump’s call,” Raskin said, before listing social media posts from accounts allegedly belonging to Trump supporters.
“One user asked, is it the sixth D-Day? Is that why Trump wants everyone there?” Raskin said. “Trump just told us to come armed, is this happening, f—— A. This is happening. A third took it even further. It will be wild means we need volunteers for the firing squad.”
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“For many of President Trump’s most loyal supporters, it’s clear the president intended the assembled crowd on Jan. 6 to serve his goal. And as you’ve already seen, and as you will see again today, some of those who were coming had specific plans,” Murphy said.
“The president’s goal was to stay in power for a second term despite losing the election. The assembled crowd was one of the tools to achieve that goal.”
Toward the end of the hearing, the committee heard in-person testimony from Capitol riot defendant Stephen Ayres and Former Oath Keeper spokesperson Jason van Tatenhove.
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Ayers said that he was motivated to travel to Washington, DC, from his Ohio home in part due to tweets from Trump regarding the integrity of the election and told Rep. Liz Cheney he “may not have come down here” if Trump had publicly dismissed allegations of widespread voter fraud.
“I think we saw a glimpse of what the vision of the Oath Keepers is on Jan. 6, It doesn’t necessarily include the rule of law,” van Tatenhove testified. “It doesn’t necessarily include it includes violence. It includes trying to get their way through lies, through deception, through intimidation, and through the perpetration of violence, the swaying of people who may not know better through lies and rhetoric and propaganda that can get swept up in these moments.”
The committee obtained “hundreds of messages” that Raskin says show “strategic and tactical planning” for the Jan. 6 rally between various far-right groups that were coordinating with each other.
“These non-aligned groups were aligning,” former Homeland Security official Donnell Harvin testified. “And so all the red flags went up at that point.”
The committee also played footage of Barr testifying that Trump asked him to use the Justice Department to seize voting machines to investigate fraud, which both Barr and Cipollone opposed.
“To have the federal government seize voting machines? That’s a terrible idea for the country. That’s not how we do things in the United States,” Cipollone said.
“Absolutely not,” Barr claimed his response was at the time. “There’s no probable cause, and we’re not going to seize any machines.”
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Instead of denying involvement, Cheney said, witnesses and those in Trump’s orbit have increasingly tried to “blame people his advisers called ‘the crazies.’
“President Donald Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child,” Cheney said. “And just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices.”
In his closing statement, Raskin said that Trump’s true legacy is “American carnage.”
“In his inaugural address, Trump introduced one commanding image, American carnage. Although that turn of phrase explained little about our country before he took office, it turned out to be an excellent prophecy of what his rage would come to visit on our people, Raskin said. “American carnage. That’s Donald Trump’s true legacy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report