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Trump aides blast fraud claims in hearing

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The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot put former President Donald Trump’s false election-fraud claims front and center within the second public hearing detailing the probe’s initial findings.

The narrowly focused hearing, which wrapped after just over two hours, sought to determine that Trump knew he lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden, but nevertheless worked to persuade swaths of the general public that the race had been stolen from him through widespread fraud.

The panel showed extensive footage of Trump’s former aides and officials, especially ex-Attorney General William Barr, testifying to the committee about their conversations with Trump and people near him. Quite a few witnesses said that they told Trump on the time of the election that his claims of fraud were false. The committee also heard in-person testimony from former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, Republican election lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg and others.

Listed below are a few of the major takeaways from the second hearing:

Barr ripped ‘crazy’ election fraud claims, questioned Trump’s grip on reality

Former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is seen on video during his deposition for the general public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on america Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 9, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Barr, who served as U.S. attorney general until late December 2020, emerged as a major character in making the committee’s case that Trump had been repeatedly told there was no evidence for the claims of fraud that he was peddling.

In his interviews with the committee’s investigators, the previous head of Trump’s Department of Justice repeatedly slammed those election-fraud conspiracy theories as “bulls—” and “crazy,” amongst other terms. He testified that he said as much to the then-president’s face.

In a single clip, Barr recounted an Oval Office meeting just a few weeks after the Nov. 3, 2020, election, wherein he had to inform Trump that the DOJ “will not be an extension of your legal team” and might’t be used to “take sides in elections” by investigating fraud claims.

“We’ll take a look at something if it’s specific, credible, and will have affected the final result of the election, and we’re doing that and it’s just not meritorious, they don’t seem to be panning out,” Barr recalled saying to Trump.

The previous head of the DOJ also said he told Trump “that the stuff that his people were shoveling out to the general public was bulls—. I mean, that the claims of fraud were bulls—. And he was indignant about that.”

“I reiterated that they’d wasted a complete month on these claims on these Dominion voting machines, and so they were idiotic claims,” Barr said.

Barr said he found those claims, that Dominion voting machines were rigged to flip votes to Biden, “disturbing” in that “I saw absolutely zero basis” for them. But “they were obviously influencing a whole lot of members of the general public” although they were “complete nonsense,” Barr said.

He added: “I told him that it was crazy stuff and so they were wasting their time on that and it was doing a grave disservice to the country.”

Barr said Trump gave him a replica of a report stuffed with election fraud claims. Trump said the report showed that he would get a second term, but “to be frank, it looked very amateurish to me,” Barr said.

“I used to be somewhat demoralized, because I believed, boy, if he really believes these things, he has lost contact with — he’s turn into detached from reality if he really believes these things,” Barr said.

When Barr would tell Trump how “crazy” a few of these claims were, “there was never a sign of interest in what the actual facts were,” the previous attorney general said, laughing.

Rudy Giuliani ‘definitely intoxicated’ on Election Night, pushed for Trump to declare victory, campaign aide said

Former Trump campaign Lawyer Rudy Giuliani, is displayed on a screen during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January sixth Attack on the US Capitol on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

In one other clip of witness interviews, ex-Trump campaign aide Jason Miller said that former Recent York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was “definitely intoxicated” on Election Night 2020 when he said on the White House that Trump should simply declare victory.

Miller said that he noticed Giuliani was inebriated when he and other officials, including former campaign manager Bill Stepien and then-chief of staff Mark Meadows, gathered on the White House to hearken to what Giuliani desired to tell Trump to say.

“The mayor was definitely intoxicated, but I didn’t know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president, for instance,” Miller said as a part of an interview with the select committee, clips of which were played within the hearing.

“There have been suggestions by, I feel it was Mayor Giuliani, to go and declare victory and say that we might won it outright,” Miller said. Giuliani was effectively saying, “‘We won it, they’re stealing it from us, where’d all of the votes come from, we want to go say that we won,’ and essentially anyone who didn’t agree with that position was being weak,” Miller told the investigators.

Trump, within the early hours of Nov. 4, 2020, falsely claimed, “frankly, we did win this election.”

A spokesperson for Giuliani, who also sent along a conspiracy theory and typo-ridden statement from the previous Trump lawyer, denied Giuliani was drunk on Election Night.

Star witness drops out

Campaign manager Bill Stepien stands alongside US President Donald Trump as he speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One as he flies from Manchester, Recent Hampshire to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, August 28, 2020, following a campaign rally.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Stepien was set to look under subpoena during Monday’s hearing. But his wife went into labor earlier that morning, keeping him from testifying and forcing the select committee to delay the proceedings by 45 minutes.

As an alternative of hearing in-person testimony from Stepien, the committee played a smattering of video and audio clips from his interviews with investigators.

In a single video clip, Stepien told the committee that on Election Night, he took the view that it was “far too early” for Trump to say he won the election, as Giuliani allegedly pushed him to do, since ballots were still being counted.

Stepien said he really useful that Trump should say the race was too early to call, but that they’re pleased with the campaign and can have more to say later. Trump disagreed with that message, Stepien said.

“He thought I used to be improper, he told me so,” he said.

Trump officials pushed back on fraud claims repeatedly

Video featuring Eric Hershman, White House lawyer under former President Donald Trump, is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January sixth Attack on the U.S. Capitol within the Cannon House Office Constructing on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

The panel showed clip after clip of ex-Trump officials testifying that that they had not seen any evidence of fraud within the 2020 election that might have modified the final result of the race.

Former Trump campaign general counsel Matt Morgan, for instance, recalled assessing “whether the [fraud], if aggregated and skim most favorably to the campaign, would that be final result determinative. And I feel everyone’s assessment within the room at the very least amongst the staff … was that it was not sufficient to be final result determinative.”

Former White House lawyer Eric Herschman, discussing the claims about rigged Dominion voting machines, said “I never saw any evidence in any way to sustain those allegations.”

“What they were proposing, I believed was nuts,” Herschman said in a later clip, referring to fraud conspiracy claims being recommend by Giuliani and pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell.

In one other clip, former Trump campaign lawyer Alex Cannon said he talked to White House advisor Peter Navarro in mid-November about Dominion voting machines and other allegations of voter fraud.

“I remember telling him that I didn’t imagine the Dominion allegations because I believed the hand recount in Georgia would resolve any issues with the technology problem,” Cannon said, adding that federal cybersecurity director Christopher Krebs had recently said the election was secure.

“I feel Mr. Navarro accused me of being an agent of the deep state working with Chris Krebs against the president. And I never took one other phone call from Mr. Navarro,” Cannon said.

Trump’s “own campaign advisors, the Department of Justice, and his cybersecurity experts all told him the identical thing,” committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said within the hearing.

Former deputy acting Attorney General Richard Donoghue told the committee that he tried to inform Trump “in very clear terms” that “the foremost allegations are usually not supported by the evidence developed.”

“We have checked out Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada. We’re doing our job. Much of the information you are getting is fake,” Donoghue said. Donoghue told the panel that when he went into detail to debunk one fraud claim, Trump said, “OK fantastic, what concerning the others?”

“There have been so lots of these allegations that while you gave him a really direct answer on one among them, he would not fight us on it but he would move on to a different allegation,” Donoghue said.

Trump’s failed court claims

To drive the purpose home, the committee displayed statistics showing how the handfuls of lawsuits by Trump’s legal team and his allies played out in court.

Between Election Day 2020 and the date of the Capitol riot, 62 lawsuits were filed difficult leads to nine key states and Washington, D.C., the committee said. Trump’s side lost 61 of those cases.

A graphic displayed by the committee noted that 22 of the judges who oversaw those cases were appointed by Republican presidents. Trump appointed 10 of those judges himself.

What’s going to occur next

The committee is anticipated to carry five more public hearings in June. The panel’s major message, as articulated in the primary hearing last week, is that Trump was “at the middle” of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election final result.

The subsequent hearings will “move on to President Trump’s broader planning for January 6, including his plan to deprave the Department of Justice, and his detailed planning with lawyer John Eastman to pressure the vice chairman, state legislatures, state officials and others to overturn the election,” Cheney said at the top of Monday’s presentation.

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