We’ve heard testimony from more than a dozen Republicans, many of whom previously worked for Trump, who have each painted a picture of a president willing to commit crimes to stay in office, regardless of the damage he might do to the country in the process.
Over the past month, the US House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has held six public hearings on the weeks preceding the attack on the US Capitol, the events that occurred the day of, and the aftermath.
The bipartisan committee has relied heavily on testimony from former Trump White House officials, Trump campaign aides, Republican allies, and Republican election officials. Each of those witnesses has painted a picture of a president willing to commit crimes to stay in office, regardless of the damage he might do to the country in the process.
Across the six hearings, we’ve learned that:
- Numerous White House and Trump campaign officials told the president the 2020 election was not stolen.
- Trump knew some of the Jan. 6 protesters were armed before he encouraged them to go to the Capitol.
- Right-wing extremists were in communication with the White House.
- Top Trump advisors and several Republican members of Congress requested pardons for their involvement in the plot to overturn the election.
- Trump thought his vice president Mike Pence deserved to be hanged.
- Someone on Team Trump may be intimidating witnesses.
But that’s just the beginning. Here’s a recap of the Committee’s findings thus far:
Trump set the stage for the Big Lie long before November 2020.
Testimony during the second hearing chronicled the months leading up to November 2020, when Trump repeatedly told Americans he would not accept an election loss. In April 2020, he dismissed mail-in voting as rife with fraud. In a July interview with Fox News, he refused to agree to accept the election results. In August, he said the only way he’d lose is “if this election is rigged.”
Top Trump officials and allies repeatedly told him there was no fraud.
After Trump lost to Joe Biden in November 2020, numerous White House and Trump campaign officials–including Trump’s own campaign manager Bill Stepien and his former Attorney General Bill Barr–told Trump that there was zero proof that the 2020 election was stolen.
“I repeatedly told the president in no uncertain terms that I did not see evidence of fraud that would have affected the outcome of the election, and frankly a year and a half later, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on that,” Barr told the committee in a video deposition.
Trump was hell-bent on overturning the election by any means necessary
After 60-plus lawsuits challenging election results failed, Trump flailed about, embracing various conspiracy theories to try and stay in power.
Trump tried to bully the Department of Justice to help him overturn the election results and sought to install a crony loyalist to lead the department.
“Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen,” former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue recalled Trump saying during a Dec. 27, 2020, meeting.
Trump only changed course when threatened with mass resignations.
The former president also tried to pressure state lawmakers to block certification of election results. Further, he embraced the outlandish legal ideas of lawyer John Eastman, who embraced the false notion that the vice president could approve alternate electors or send results back to individual states to recertify in order to hand the election to Trump and override the will of more than 81 million American voters who elected Joe Biden.
Members of Congress were involved in Trump’s schemes
During the first six hearings, we learned that an aide to Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin attempted to deliver former Vice President Mike Pence’s staff a list of false, pro-Trump electors just moments before Pence was set to count electoral votes on Jan. 6.
According to text messages, the Johnson staffer, Sean Riley, told Pence’s legislative director Chris Hodgson that Johnson wanted to give Pence lists of the fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin for Pence to introduce during the counting of electoral votes that certified Joe Biden’s win. Hodgson quickly shot the idea down, telling Riley: “Do not give that to him.”
Several members of the House were also involved in efforts to overturn the election, including Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Matt Gaetz of Florida.
According to testimony from the head of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Trump even involved that organization in his fake elector scheme.
Trump’s lies were the ultimate con
Trump conned his supporters out of $250 million. Between Election Day 2020 and January 2021, his campaign sent out countless fundraising pitches to his supporters, netting more than $250 million in donations. Supporters were told that money would go toward contesting election results via the “Election Defense Fund,” but in reality, no such fund existed. Most of the money went toward the “Save America PAC,” a pro-Trump PAC created after the 2020 election.
“The Big Lie was also The Big Ripoff,” US Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a committee member, said during one of the hearings.
As Amanda Wick, senior investigative counsel for the committee, noted in a video, the Save America PAC made millions of dollars in contributions to other pro-Trump organizations, including those run by his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. The Trump Hotel Collection also received more than $200,000.
Top officials in the Trump administration were repeatedly warned of violence ahead of Jan. 6.
In the days leading up to Jan. 6, numerous White House officials, including Meadows, were warned about violence. The Secret Service, national security advisors, and top Justice Department officials had all received information that violence was being planned, that Trump supporters would be armed, and that there could be an invasion of the Capitol.
According to testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as Meadows’ chief of staff, she confronted Meadows on Jan. 2 about what would happen on Jan. 6. He told her that “things might get real, real bad on January 6,” according to her testimony.
Trump wanted to go to the Capitol and knew his supporters were armed but didn’t care
Trump knew the crowd at his Jan. 6, 2021, rally was armed and could get violent, yet he wanted security measures removed because he knew they were not there to attack him. In fact, Trump not only wanted his armed supporters to go to the Capitol; he also attempted to join them as they sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election by force.
Hutchinson testified about how Trump raged about the presence of magnetometers—which are used to detect weapons—at his “Stop the Steal” rally that morning and demanded his supporters be let in anyway, not caring that they were armed with guns, knives, and spears.
“You know, I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
She also testified that Trump was so desperate to join the mob at the Capitol—against the advice of his security detail and attorneys—that he attempted to wrench the steering wheel away from his driver and even lunged at Secret Service agent Robert Engel. Engel had advised the president that the situation at the Capitol was unstable and a security risk. But Trump did not care.
“I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
Trump thought Pence deserved to be hanged
When Capitol rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” on Jan. 6, White House counsel Pat Cipollone warned Meadows that they needed to do something to get Trump to stop the rioters. According to Hutchinson, Meadows responded that Trump “doesn’t want to do anything,” and said, “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
Trump’s anger at Pence was driven by the fact that the vice president wouldn’t illegally and single-handedly try to overturn the election results, despite Trump’s pressure campaign.
Cipollone warned Meadows that people would die and the blood would be on Meadows’ hands, but the chief of staff still refused to act.
FBI testimony from an informant also revealed that members of the Proud Boys, an extremist group that was reportedly in touch with individuals in Trump’s orbit prior to Jan. 6, would have killed Pence if given the chance.
Trump only spoke out against the Capitol invasion after a huge pressure campaign
Trump resisted efforts to persuade him to condemn the violence on Jan. 6, and he released a statement telling supporters to go home only following enormous pressure from aides and allies.
Furthermore, the speech Trump delivered the following day – in which he committed to a smooth transition of power – only came about because he was warned by both administration officials and outside allies that his own cabinet was considering using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
Top Trump advisors and several Republican members of Congress requested pardons for their plot to overturn the election
According to witness testimony, Meadows and Rudy Giuliani both asked for pardons relating to their involvement in the Jan. 6 planning and their efforts to overturn the 2020 election. So too did Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Louie Gohmert of Texas, according to former Trump White House aides Cassidy Hutchinson and Johnny McEntee.
Trump’s lies led to deaths and death threats and caused lasting harm
Trump’s lies didn’t just lead to the Jan. 6 attack, a criminal act that left five people dead. They also ruined the lives of ordinary Americans.
Wandrea “Shaye” Moss is a former Fulton County, GA, elections worker. She told the US House Committee how Trump’s lies about her and her mother—election volunteer Ruby Freeman—forced them to go into hiding, endangered Moss’ grandmother, and affected Moss’ health.
“It’s turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don’t transfer calls. I don’t want anyone knowing my name. I don’t go to the grocery store at all,” Moss said. “It’s affected my life in a major way, in every way. All because of lies and me doing my job—same thing I’ve been doing forever.”
Freeman also testified about the devastating impact on her life.
“I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I’m always concerned of who’s around me,” Freeman said. “I’ve lost my name and I’ve lost my reputation. I’ve lost my sense of security.”
She was also forced to leave her home of two decades in early January 2021 after the FBI informed her that it was not safe for her to stay there, given the threats against her life. The trauma has lingered, affecting her to this day.
Trump’s lies also impacted Republican election officials.
Rusty Bowers, the conservative speaker of the Arizona state House, voted for Trump in 2020 but refused to help him overturn the election results. That prompted Trump supporters to harass his seriously ill daughter while she was on her deathbed in late 2020 and early 2021. She spent her final months dealing with harassment caused by the former president.
Trump still poses a threat to the United States
Republican lawyer J. Michael Luttig, a staunch conservative, testified that the threat Trump poses to American democracy is far from over.
“Today, almost two years after that fateful day in January 2021, and still Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.” Luttig said to the committee.
“That’s not because of what happened on January 6,” Luttig continued. “It’s because, to this very day, the former president, his allies, and supporters pledge that in the presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor is the Republican Party candidate, and [they] were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way they attempted to overturn the 2020 election.”
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