From ‘Intoxicated’ Giuliani to ‘Big Rip-Off’: Highlights of House 6 Jan Panel’s 2nd Public Hearing
13:15 GMT 14.06.2022 (Updated: 13:22 GMT 14.06.2022)
Last week, the House Select Committee’s first primetime hearing saw the panel present “previously unseen material documenting” the events on 6 January 2021, when hundreds of Trump supporters breached the US Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes in favour of Democrat Joe Biden.
The US House Select Committee investigating the events surrounding the US Capitol
on 6 January 2021 has held a second public hearing, during which the panel continued to focus on actions by former President Donald Trump at the time.
Here are five key items from the second of a spate of looming hearings into last year’s Capitol breach, broadcast live on prime time television on Monday.
45th President Was Allegedly Falsely Informed About Claims on Election Fraud
The House 6 January Committee played multiple videos and presented testimony from several witnesses insisting that they told the 45th US president that there was no widespread fraud during the 4 November 2020 election.
Committee chair Bennie Thompson said in his opening remarks that “this morning we’ll tell the story of how Donald Trump lost an election and knew he lost an election, and as a result of his loss decided to wage an attack on our democracy, an attack on the American people by trying to rob you of your voice in a democracy, and in doing so lit the fuse that led to the horrific violence of 6 January”.
This was followed by witnesses, including former aides who were in Trump’s inner circle, testifying to support Thompson’s claims. Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, in turn, argued he told Trump repeatedly that the fraud claims were false, but that each time the Justice Department would dismiss one fraud allegation, the former president would bring up another one.
“I told him flat-out that much of the information he’s getting is false and/or just not supported by the evidence. We look at the allegations, but they don’t pan out,” Donoghue said.
Trump Apparently Had No Interest in Facts
Former US Attorney General Bill Barr told the panel in a video that Trump seemed to have no interest in the facts when he was making election fraud allegations, including promoting unconfirmed reports on rigged voting machines.
“I thought, ‘boy … he’s become detached from reality, if he really believed this stuff’. On the other hand when I went into this and would tell him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts are,” Barr said.
He also referred to his first post-election meeting with Trump in late November 2020, during which the former president raised the prospect of the Justice Department probing election fraud allegations.
According to Barr, he told Trump at the time that their “role is to investigate fraud and look at something if it’s specific, credible and could have affected the outcome of the election”.
Barr added that as he was leaving the Oval Office, he asked then-White House adviser Jared Kushner how long Trump will go ahead with the “stolen elections” allegations, and that Kushner purportedly said, “We’re working on it”.
Jason Miller, a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, claimed that former New York mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani
was drunk when he was advising the former president on election night.
“The mayor was definitely intoxicated, but I do not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president,” Miller said in a videotaped deposition played by the committee.
He added that said Giuliani suggested to Trump that the campaign should declare victory “and say that we’d won it outright”.
Miller was echoed by Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair and one of two Republicans on the panel, who alluded to Giuliani’s alleged intoxication that night.
“President Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night and instead followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani, to just claim he won and insist that the vote counting stop, to falsely claim everything was fraudulent,” Cheney asserted.
Panel: Trump Promoted Fraud Claims to Obtain Money
Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who took a leading role in questioning witnesses on Monday, accused Trump of prolonging failed election-related litigation and fraud claims to raise money from supporters.
“Not only was there the big lie, there was the big rip-off. Donors deserve to know where their funds are really going. They deserve better than what President Trump and his team did,” Lofgren said.
The claims were followed by Amanda Wick, senior investigative counsel with the committee, arguing in a pre-recorded video that Trump and his allies raised almost $250 million in the weeks following the election after incessantly sending emails to supporters asking for donations.
“The Trump campaign knew these claims of voter fraud were false, yet they continued to barrage small-dollar donors with emails encouraging them to donate to something called the Official Election Defense Fund,” Wick said.
She alleged that while no such fund existed, the bulk of the money went to a separate entity called the Save America PAC, and from there, the hefty sums were ostensibly dispensed to organisations associated with Trump allies.
Trump's Alleged Push to 'Corrupt' DoJ to Be on Upcoming Hearings' Agenda
Liz Cheney said on Monday that her panel’s upcoming hearings would look into Trump’s efforts to “corrupt” the Justice Department and press local officials to overturn the election results.
“In the coming days, you will see the committee move on to President Trump’s broader planning for 6 January, including his plan to corrupt the Department of Justice, and his detailed planning with lawyer John Eastman to pressure the vice president, state legislatures, state officials and others to overturn the election,” Cheney pointed out.
The committee, which is due to hold its next hearing on Wednesday, does not have the authority to charge individuals with crimes, but it can make recommendations to the Justice Department.
On 6 January 2021, a crowd of protesters, including scores of Trump supporters, breached the US Capitol in a bid to prevent lawmakers from certifying the 2020 election results
, in what came after the Stop Steal rally, during which the 45th president claimed about the rigged voting.
The crowd breaking into the Capitol building and clashing with police led to four people dying and dozens more being injured, including at least 138 police officers.
Trump was accused of "incitement of insurrection" despite the fact that he used his now-suspended Twitter account, urging his supporters "to stay peaceful" and "go home", and recording a video address on 7 January condemning the violence.
Democratic lawmakers used the events at the Capitol to try to permanently ban Trump from politics by impeaching him a second time. However, the impeachment trial failed in the Senate in February 2021, when Trump was already out of office.