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Congressional investigation of the Capitol attack: day two
The second hearing on the Capitol attack: the January 6th committee investigated whether Trump knew his election fraud claims were false.
Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller testified the Trump campaign expected a "red mirage" on election night. (Meaning, the campaign knew the early totals were likely to favor Trump, and that mail-in ballots would cause a later shift toward Biden.)
"We should not go and declare victory until we had a better sense of the numbers," Miller said he cautioned on election night, 2020.
Trump ignored the advice of his campaign to say the results were too early to call. Instead, Trump declared in the early morning hours after the election, without any evidence, "Frankly, we did win this election."
Former Trump attorney general Bill Barr testified that Trump immediately blamed "election fraud" before there was even time to find evidence of election fraud.
Throughout 2020, Trump continuously discouraged mail-in voting among his supporters. His campaign manager William Stepien advised him to do the opposite.
Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt testified to the committee that Fox was first to call the election for Biden, because they had better data than their competitors.
Stirewalt said, "In a recount, you are talking about hundreds of votes. When we think about calling a race, one of the things we think about is, 'Is it outside the margin of a recount?' And when we think about that margin, in modern history, you are talking about 1,000 votes, 1,500 votes at way, way outside [the norm]. Normally, you're talking about hundreds of votes, which may be 300 votes that are going to change." Stirewalt continued, "Remember, he had to do it thrice, right? He needed three of these states to change. In order to that, you're at — you're better off to play Powerball than have that coming."
William Stepien said he was hired as manager 115 days before the election, at a "low point" for Trump in the polls. Days before the election, internal polling showed Trump losing. Stepien felt the outcome was "very, very, very bleak" for Trump.
Stepien estimated Trump's chances of winning were 5-10%.
William Barr called the claims of election fraud "bogus and silly." It was solely his refusal to go along with the unfounded allegations that caused Barr to split with Trump.
Barr testified the allegations against Dominion voting machines were "idiotic claims" that were "made without any basis." "Complete nonsense." "Crazy stuff." He called the fixation on Dominion a waste of time and "a great, great disservice to this country."
Barr testified that Trump handed him an "amateurish" document that claimed "the machines were designed to engage in fraud, or something to that effect, but I didn't see any supportive information for that. I was kind of demoralized, because I thought if he really believes this stuff, he's really lost contact with — he's become detached with reality if he really believes this stuff."
Barr: "My opinion then, and my opinion now, is that the election was not stolen by fraud. And I haven't seen anything since the election that changes my mind on that — even the '2000 Mules' movie." Barr let out a chuckle. "I was unimpressed with it." But he admitted he wanted to give the movie a chance: "I was holding my fire on that, to see what the photographic evidence was, because I thought, well, if they have a lot of photographs of the same person dumping a lot of ballots in different boxes, you know, that's hard to explain." The 2000 Mules movie, however, failed to play video of the same person visiting multiple drop off points. "I think the photographic evidence of it was completely lacking. I mean, there was a little bit of it, but it was lacking. It didn't establish widespread, illegal harvesting."
Barr noted that Trump tuned out any criticism of his fraud allegations. "After the election, he didn't seem to be listening. I was inclined not to stay around if he wasn't listening to advice from me or his other cabinet secretaries."
Trump's then-acting attorney general Richard Donoghue testified that Trump claimed "Indians" on reservations were committing voter fraud. Donogue said Trump made several other claims, which had no basis.
Bjay Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia investigated a claim from Rudy Giuliani that a ballot lock box seen on video footage was evidence of fraud. Pak testified that the allegation was false.
William Barr testified that "there was nothing strange about the Philadelphia turnout." He found no evidence the election was "stolen by fraud," despite Trump's claims of dead people voting. "Once you actually go and compare apples to apples, there's no discrepancy."
Al Schmidt, city commissioner for Philadelphia, told the committee: "Not only was there not evidence of eight thousand dead voters voting in Pennsylvania, there wasn't evidence of eight."
Schmidt said he was threatened after his assessment of finding no dead voters. But then he described being inundated once Trump tweeted his name: "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, which was of our home, just every bit of detail that you could imagine. That was what changed with that tweet."
There were no cases in which the Trump campaign was able to prove voter fraud.
The Trump campaign used a "stolen election" allegation to fundraise, deploying aggressive emails that urged supporters to "fight back" against the "liberal MOB." With unfounded claims of fraud, Trump and his allies raised $250 million in the weeks following the election.
The committee played video of the rioters explaining why they came to Washington on January 6th. It was because Donald Trump told them to be there.
Among the statements made by rioters, showing them repeating Trump's baseless fraud claims: "Trying to steal us out of our vote! It ain't happening." "Can't trust Dominion software." "They stole that from us twice. We're not taking that any more." "Votes disappeared from President Trump's tally!" "If the elections are being stolen, what's it going to take?"