The January 6 committee’s latest hearing focused on Georgia and Arizona, where state officials weathered an unprecedented campaign waged by the sitting president and his legal team to urge them to overturn the lawful results of the election.
Several witnesses at the hearing described how the Trump legal team spent weeks attempting to raise new issues of fraud and resist the lawful transfer of power by any means necessary in the days leading up to January 6, when thousands of the president’s supporters would storm Capitol Hill.
And the campaign was not limited to Donald Trump and his closest advisers themselves: Members of Congress were involved in the expansive effort as well in what amounted to a unified effort by the Trump wing in Washington to thwart the will of the voters.
Here are five of the most important takeaways from the committee’s evidence and witness testimony:
State officials detail pressure campaign directed by Trump and Rudy Giuliani
Numerous witnesses, including Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger, detailed how the White House and Trump campaign spent months urging them to take a wide range of actions to overturn the election, ranging from calling special legislative sessions to signing on to letters of endorsement for alternate slates of electors.
In Georgia, that took the form of President Donald Trump personally calling Mr Raffensperger and asking him to “find” more than 11,000 votes that he would need to surpass Joe Biden’s vote total in the state.
Time and again, witnesses described how the Trump team leaned on their GOP loyalties: “We’re all Republicans here”, Mr Giuliani told Mr Bowers on one occaision. And they described how the campaign of public pressure eventually led to escalating threats against them, their families, their neighbors and others.
Mr Bowers recalled how despite Mr Giuliani’s repeated insistence that he would send “evidence” of the Trump campaign’s false claims, such as names of dead Arizonans who supposedly voted in 2020, none ever arrived. Eventually, in one conversation, he said the lead lawyer for the Trump campaign even admitted that such proof did not exist or was not in their possession.
GOP lawmakers worked to overturn election hours before Jan 6 attack
Two Republican members of Congress were mentioned by name on Tuesday as involved in efforts to overturn the election just hours before the Jan 6 attack began.
An aide to Sen Ron Johnson of Wisconsin apparently attempted to have the senator hand-deliver Electoral College votes to Mike Pence as the vice president arrived at the Senate, a plot Mr Johnson denied knowledge of in a statement to The Independent. And Rep Andy Biggs of Arizona phoned Mr Bowers, urging him to get on board with a slate of false “alternate” electors from his state that would support Donald Trump over Joe Biden.
Mr Biggs refused to comment on his actions.
Trump team hoped overwhelmed courts would be unable to stop them
One key fact revealed by Mr Bowers was an urging by John Eastman, Donald Trump’s attorney, to simply call a special legislative session and let the Arizona Supreme Court (or potentially US Supreme Court) determine the legality of the situation later.
The admission was a minor part of Tuesday’s hearing but illustrated how Mr Eastman was willing to pursue legal strategies in which he himself did not have full conficence.
“He said just do it, let the courts sort it out,” Mr Bowers testified of a conversation he had with John Eastman about whether he could call a special session of Arizona’s legislature without a vote of 2/3 of the chamber’s members.
“You are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath,” he recalled responding to the president after one such urging.
Election workers grow emotional as they describe threats
Both Mr Bowers and election workers in Georgia grew emotional as they described the horrific abuse and violence that they were threatened with by Trump supporters, including some to this day.
“Do you know how it feels to have the preisdent of the United States target you? The[president] is supposed to represent every American, not target one. But he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small business owner, a proud American citizen who stood up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of the pandemic,” one tearful Georgia worker, Ruby Freeman, explained in powerful testimony explaining how persistent threats and acts targeting her family had driven her from her home and caused her to live in fear for more than a year.
Her daughter (who also served as an election worker), Shaye Moss, detailed some of the threats she received as well: “[people] wishing death upon me, telling me that I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’”
Mark Meadows wanted to bribe Georgia investigators, aide says
Committee member Adam Schiff outlined what he said was an idea raised by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to influence investigators responsible for detecting and prosecuting fraud in the Georgia secretary of state’s office with promises of challenge coins and other MAGA gear.
The shocking plan to bribe state officials into opening baseless investigations into fraud claims raised without evidence was apparently rejected by other White House staff, according to the California congressman.
“[T]he Select Committee has received text messages indicating that Mark Meadows wanted to send some of the investigators in her office, in the words of one White House aide, ‘a s***load of POTUS stuff,’ including coins, actual autographed MAGA hats, etc”, Mr Schiff said.
“White House staff intervened to make sure that didn’t happen,” he added.