The key takeaways from the Jan. 6 hearing are: Barr emerges central figure

WASHINGTON -- As Donald Trump made outrageous claims of election fraud and Attorney General William Barr wondered if he was still in the right mind.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
13 June 2022 Monday 15:49
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The key takeaways from the Jan. 6 hearing are: Barr emerges central figure

WASHINGTON -- As Donald Trump made outrageous claims of election fraud and Attorney General William Barr wondered if he was still in the right mind. He told the Jan. 6 committee via video-recorded testimony.

Barr testified that Trump claimed to have additional evidence that Dominion voting machines were rigged when they met privately in December 2020. Barr told him that he would be able to get a second term. Barr was then presented with a report by a cyber-security company. As Barr looked through the pages, nothing seemed to support such an astonishing claim.

Barr said that he was feeling somewhat demoralized after telling House Jan. 6 committee investigators that he believed the stuff. "Boy, if this is true, he has lost touch with reality.

Barr's testimony, which was only recorded via video prerecorded from Barr's first hearing, proved to be the most compelling and put the ex-Trump appointee in the center of the committee’s case against Trump.

Barr's concerns about Trump's mental health -- and how a parade aides and advisors tried to convince him that he had lost the 2020 election -- were the main themes of the second public hearing by the committee on Monday.

You can also find other takeaways here:

Trump's closest advisors met at the White House on the night of the election to discuss what they should say publicly, given that the winner might not be declared for days.

Some of his senior advisors thought it was too soon to call the race, even though votes were still being counted. At least one of them told him so. Trump's campaign manager Bill Stepien suggested that Trump give a more cautious statement until it became clear who had won. Trump did not heed this advice.

"He believed I was wrong." Stepien stated this in videotaped testimony that was aired by committee.

Trump chose instead to follow the advice of Rudy Giuliani, his longtime confidant. That night, the former mayor of New York City was present at the White House. He called for declaring victory in a conversation with a few Trump advisors who were near the Map Room, where Franklin Roosevelt tracked troop movements during World War II.

Jason Miller, a Trump campaign official told the committee that Giuliani stated, "We won. They are stealing it from me. We have to say that we won. Miller's testimony was recorded by the committee and was shown on video. Miller stated that Giuliani was drunk. (A Giuliani lawyer denied that he was drunk.

Trump's speech was blunt and inaccurate. He told his supporters that he had won the election.

The Jan. 6 committee also tracks the money. Committee members stated that Trump and his associates continued to make false claims about election fraud long after the courts ruled against him. They did this by continuing to raise millions from Trump supporters.

The committee previously suggested that money could be a theme running through the hearings. This includes who paid for Jan. 6's rally.

Jan. 6 Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters that Trump's fundraising efforts would be detailed in the final report.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) stated that "The big lie was also an enormous ripoff."

Lofgren claimed that Trump's campaign sent millions upon millions of fundraising emails between Election Day, Jan. 6, and February 6, 2017, claiming that a left-wing mob was undermining election results and asking supporters to "step up" and "fight back," to preserve election integrity.

The committee urged supporters to contribute to Trump's "election defence fund", but they said that it couldn't find any such fund or committee. The bulk of the $250 million raised was instead given to Trump's super PAC, the Save America PAC. It was launched within days of the election.

Jan. 6 panel stated that Save America funneled millions in donations to Trump-friendly entities and organizations. This included $1 million to Trump's Conservative Partnership Institute, which is a charity foundation that was closely connected to Mark Meadows, Trump's former chief of staff. Another $1 million went to America First Policy Institute, an advocacy group that employs many ex-Trump officials. More than $200,000 was given to Trump Hotels and $5 million to the events company responsible for Trump's Jan. 6 rally.

"The [fundraising] emails went on through Jan. 6, while President Trump spoke at the Ellipse. The Capitol was breached thirty minutes after the last fundraising email had been sent," Amanda Wick (senior investigative counsel) for the Jan.6 committee stated in a video.

Just four months prior to the election, Brad Parscale handed over the campaign to Stepien.

Stepien claimed that the campaign raised $774 million. However, he said that he was given an operation that was "structurally and financially deficient" when he took over as campaign manager. He also stated that he set out to fix things with the remaining 115 days of the campaign.

Trump refused to use basic campaign strategies that could have increased his chances of winning. When it came to mail-in votes, Trump was stubborn.

Stepien said that he once called a meeting to convince Trump and Kevin McCarthy about mail-in voting. McCarthy backed him up.

Stepien argued that Republicans had created a grassroots campaign system that could mobilize voters to vote by mail. It was also risky to place so much faith in in-person voting. Trump was not moved.

Stepien stated, "The president's mind had been made up."

The Jan. 6 panel demonstrated that there was no opposition from any of the members and has shown the benefits of an entire panel following the same rules.

After Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, rejected two congressional candidates who wanted to be on the committee, Republicans decided not to place anyone on it. The committee is comprised of seven Democrats as well as two Republicans, both vocal Trump critics. The panel was able to keep its message clear and disciplined as it argues against Donald Trump's 45th presidency.

In a typical House committee, members from the minority might interrupt the chairman, cross-examine key witnesses, or present evidence that contradicts what the majority is saying. However, this has not been the case.

The highly scripted format means that the first two hearings did not look like the productions Congress is used to.

Jan. 6 panel presented video montages showing the Capitol riot and taped interviews with committee staff. Friendly questioning was also conducted of witnesses such as Ben Ginsberg, prominent GOP election lawyer.

Ginsberg said that the Trump campaign "did not have their day in court." Ginsberg did not face any followup questions.

Before the hearing began, there was only one surprise Monday: Stepien, the star witness, cancelled his appearance due to his wife's labor. After a short delay, the committee was able to regroup and move forward with the hearing by using Stepien's earlier video-taped testimony.

Lofgren stated that Stepien is not required to testify live at the next hearing because of his "very extensive" interview.

These hearings look like Trump's impeachment trial, which his accusers wanted but never got.

This may not be an accident.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.) is one of the members of the committee. He was the leader of the House managers that served as the prosecution in Trump’s second trial.

Trump's impeachment was a fast-track process that made it difficult to gather and present evidence to show Trump's exact role in the plot to overturn the election. They had very little power to make Trump turn over records. The National Archives, however, has been more cooperative since he was taken into custody.

Basic questions regarding Trump's Jan. 6 actions were not answered during the trial. When senators wanted to know what Trump did to stop violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, one of Trump's attorneys referred to a tweet that he had sent asking for people to remain "peaceful". Trump was later acquitted.

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