Second January 6th Committee Hearing Focuses On 'Big Lie' Of Election Fraud
By Bill Galluccio
June 13, 2022
The House select committee investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, held its second hearing on Monday (June 13), detailing the findings of its year-long investigation. The hearing included video clips of depositions from top Trump campaign officials and live testimony from former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, former Republican Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt, Ben Ginsberg, a Republican election lawyer, and Byung Pak, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
Former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien was also scheduled to testify but had to pull out at the last minute due to a "family emergency." Instead, the committee aired a video of private testimony he previously provided to the committee. In addition, Stepien's lawyer entered a statement for the record on his behalf.
The hearing focused on what committee members called the "big lie" that the 2020 presidential election was stolen due to widespread fraud.
"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 our democracy, and in doing so, lit the fuse that led to the horrific violence of January 6 when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol sent by Donald Trump to stop the transfer of power," Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said during his opening remarks.
Thompson then went on to say that Trump's lie ultimately resulted in a mob of people storming the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
"And in doing so lit the fuse that led to horrific violence of January 6, when a mob of his supporters storm the capital sent by Donald Trump to stop the transfer of power," Thompson added.
The committee detailed how some of President Trump's closest advisors urged him against declaring victory on election night. Despite their pleas, Trump listened to an "intoxicated" Rudy Giuliani and addressed his supporters, suggesting that he would be declared the victor over Joe Biden.
"Effectively, Mayor Giuliani was saying we won it," Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman, told investigators in videotaped testimony, "and essentially that anyone who didn't agree to that was being weak."
The committee aired a clip of Trump's election night speech, in which he laid the seeds that the election was stolen.
"We want all voting to stop, we don't want them to find any ballots at 4 o'clock in the morning and add them to the list," Trump told his supporters.
The committee also heard testimony from witnesses who stated there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Former Republican Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt testified that his office looked into every claim of voter fraud and could not find any evidence to substantiate the claims.
"Not only was there not evidence of 8,000 dead voters voting in Pennsylvania. There wasn't evidence of eight. We took seriously every case that was referred to us no matter how fantastical no matter how absurd and took every one of those seriously, including these," he said.
Schmidt, who pushed back against claims of widespread fraud, told the committee that he and his family became the subject of violent threats after President Trump called him out by name in a tweet.
"On some level, it feels almost silly to talk about a tweet, but we can really see the impact that they have. Because prior to that [tweet], the threats were pretty general in nature," he told the January 6 committee. "After the President tweeted at me by name, calling me out the way that he did, the threats became much more specific, much more graphic. And included not just me by name but included members of my family by name, their ages, our address, pictures of our home."
The committee also provided new insight into Trump's fundraising efforts after he lost the election. They said that his campaign raised $250 million for an "official election defense fund" that did not exist. Instead, that money was funneled to the Save America PAC, which was formed several days after the election.
"The 'Big Lie' was also a big rip-off," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren.
The committee will hold its next hearing this Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. Rep. Liz Cheney said that the hearing will focus on Trump's "broader planning for January 6, including his plan to corrupt the Department of Justice."