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4 Takeaways From Tuesday’s Jan. 6 Hearing

The hearing by the House committee investigating the Capitol attack showed how President Donald J. Trump and his allies applied pressure to state officials to overturn the election results.
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Jan. 6 House Committee Hearings
  • Day 4: Key Moments
  • 4 Takeaways
  • Your Questions, Answered
  • Jan. 6 Timeline
  • Democracy Challenged

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Jan. 6 Panel Hearings
Here are 4 takeaways from Tuesday’s Jan. 6 hearing.
Michael S. Schmidt
June 21, 2022, 6:42 p.m. ET
June 21, 2022, 6:42 p.m. ET
Representative Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, swearing in witnesses on Tuesday. The hearing included testimony from state officials from Arizona and Georgia.
Representative Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, swearing in witnesses on Tuesday. The hearing included testimony from state officials from Arizona and Georgia.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

The fourth hearing held by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol focused on the elaborate efforts by President Donald J. Trump and his allies to hijack one of the foundations of democracy: the process behind the peaceful transfer of power.

The committee laid out evidence showing how Mr. Trump led a campaign that played out in two related ways: applying direct pressure on Republican officials in swing states to reverse his loss, and pursuing a plan to name “alternate” slates of electors intended to tilt the Electoral College result in Mr. Trump’s favor.

The hearing demonstrated the human costs of the waves of threats and intimidation set off by Mr. Trump and his supporters as they pressured state officials and election workers to find a way to deprive Joseph R. Biden Jr. of his victory.

Here are four takeaways.

Trump was directly involved in the ‘fake electors’ plan.
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A slate of fake electors shown during Tuesday’s hearing. The House committee put forth evidence of President Donald J. Trump’s personal involvement in the fake elector scheme. Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

The committee showed evidence that Mr. Trump was directly involved behind the scenes in trying to put forward the alternate slates of Trump electors that he hoped could replace the electors awarded to Mr. Biden through his victories in swing states like Arizona and Georgia.

Mr. Trump called Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, to ask her to talk to one of his outside lawyers, John Eastman, who was on the line, about the plan, Ms. McDaniel said in a video clip of her deposition to the committee. Mr. Trump wanted Ms. McDaniel, she said, to talk to Mr. Eastman “about the importance of the R.N.C. helping the campaign gather these contingent electors” if Mr. Trump’s legal challenges were successful.

As Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman were undertaking the scheme, the White House Counsel’s Office held a meeting with Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani; the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows; and other aides, where they were told that the plan was not legally sound, according to recorded testimony from a West Wing aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

The Themes of the Jan. 6 House Committee Hearings
  • Making a Case Against Trump: The committee appears to be laying out a road map for prosecutors to indict former President Donald J. Trump. But the path to any trial is uncertain.
  • Day One: During the first hearing, the panel presented a gripping story with a sprawling cast of characters, but only three main players: Mr. Trump, the Proud Boys and a Capitol Police officer.
  • Day Two: In its second hearing, the committee showed how Mr. Trump ignored aides and advisers in declaring victory prematurely and relentlessly pressing claims of fraud he was told were wrong.
  • Day Three: Mr. Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence to go along with a plan to overturn his loss even after he was told it was illegal, according to testimony laid out by the panel during the third hearing.

The committee did not say whether Mr. Trump was told about the meeting with the White House Counsel’s Office. Last week, the panel revealed that Mr. Trump had been told by Mr. Eastman that the broader effort they were pursuing to convince Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay certification of the Electoral College count in Mr. Biden’s favor had no legal basis — a fact that legal experts say could help prosecutors build a criminal case against Mr. Trump.

G.O.P. elected officials pushed the electors scheme.
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An aide to Senator Ron Johnson tried to arrange for the senator to provide fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin to Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021. Credit...Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

The committee showed that Republicans in Congress were pushing the alternate electors plan even on Jan. 6, hours before the day’s violence, which had the effect of stopping the certification of the electoral count as Mr. Pence was whisked away from the mob.

According to text messages obtained by the committee, an aide to Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, told an aide for Mr. Pence on Jan. 6 that Mr. Johnson wanted to give Mr. Pence a list of Trump electors from Michigan and Wisconsin, two states won by Mr. Biden.

“Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise,” Sean Riley, an aide to Mr. Johnson, texted an aide to Mr. Pence, according to messages released by the committee.

“What is it?” Chris Hodgson, the aide to Mr. Pence, replied.

“Alternate slate of electors for MI and WI because archivist didn’t receive them,” Mr. Riley said.

“Do not give that to him,” Mr. Hodgson texted back.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Johnson, Alexa Henning, said on Twitter that he “had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office.”

The communications with the vice president’s office, she said, were “staff to staff” and the documents were never sent to Mr. Pence.

On the morning of Jan. 6, another Trump ally on Capitol Hill, Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, reached out to Rusty Bowers, the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and a Republican, to see if he would support the decertification of Arizona’s electors for Mr. Biden.

“I said I would not,” Mr. Bowers recounted telling Mr. Biggs.

Trump’s allies could not produce evidence of election fraud.
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From left, Rusty Bowers, the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives; Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state; and Gabriel Sterling, another Georgia election official, at the hearing on Tuesday.Credit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times

The committee showed examples of how Mr. Trump and his allies knew that there was no evidence that the election had been stolen.

Mr. Bowers recounted how Mr. Giuliani acknowledged to him at one point in a phone call that they could not find the evidence of fraud that they needed.

“He said, ‘We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence,’” Mr. Bowers recalled Mr. Giuliani telling him. “AndI don’t know if that was a gaffe or maybe he didn’t think through what he said, but both myself and others in my group, the three in my group and my counsel, both remembered that specifically, and afterwards, we kind of laughed about it.”

At another point, Mr. Eastman was pressing Mr. Bowers to embrace the plan to push a slate of Trump electors from Arizona despite the state’s certification of Mr. Biden’s victory there. Mr. Bowers said that he questioned how he could legally participate in the scheme and that Mr. Eastman responded by saying, “Just do it and let the courts sort it out.”

Threats and intimidation started well before Jan. 6.
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Shaye Moss, an election worker in Georgia, faced a torrent of harassment after she became the target of a right-wing smear campaign.Credit...Shuran Huang for The New York Times

The public pressure that Mr. Trump and his allies put on state election officials resulted in the officials being targeted in frightening and intimidating ways by Trump supporters.

Shaye Moss, an elections worker in Fulton County, Ga., who, along with her mother, had been falsely accused by Mr. Giuliani of committing election fraud, provided a dramatic portrait of the harassment that Mr. Giuliani’s false claims had spawned. She described the racist messages she received on Facebook.

“A lot of threats, wishing death upon me, telling me that, you know, I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920,’” Ms. Moss said.

She said that the entire episode, and the attention that came with it, had “turned my life upside down.”

“I don’t want anyone knowing my name,” she said. “I don’t want to go anywhere with my mom because she might yell my name out over the grocery aisle or something. I don’t go to the grocery store at all. I haven’t been anywhere at all. I’ve gained about 60 pounds. I just don’t do nothing anymore. I don’t want to go anywhere.”

She said she loved her job as an election worker but ultimately quit.

Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, recounted how the home of his son’s widow had been broken into.

Mr. Bowers was the target of protests and threats as his daughter was dying. And he described how his office had received over 20,000 emails and tens of thousands of voice mail messages and texts that made it impossible for him and his staff to communicate.

“It is the new pattern or a pattern in our lives to worry what will happen on Saturdays because we have various groups come by and they have had video panel trucks with videos of me proclaiming me to be a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt politician and blaring loudspeakers in my neighborhood,” Mr. Bowers said.

Chris Cameron contributed reporting.

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