Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond
Contributor | July 15, 2022 7:00 AM
Events of last week could take much more space than allotted here, so we’ll focus on the House committee hearings about Jan. 6’s violent attempt to overthrow the government.
From various sources:
The fourth Jan. 6 House Committee hearing (June 21) focused on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure election officials to change election results, including efforts to throw out confirmed results and submit a false slate of electors.
Threatening protesters were even sent to homes of officials who did not want to play along. [Biden tallied 7 million more votes than Trump, and won the Electoral College 306-232.]
Arizona House of Representatives Speaker Rusty Bowers–R, spoke of phone calls wherein Trump and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani claimed there were thousands of votes from undocumented people. When asked for proof, none was provided.
When further pressured, Bowers said he told Trump “you are asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath.”
Bowers also testified that an Arizona Republican lawmaker called him the morning of Jan. 6 and asked him to support overturning the election. Bowers declined. He’s experienced threats since, from Trump followers.
But Trump has not given up: The morning of the fourth hearing he claimed Bowers told him the election was rigged, but Bowers denied under oath having said any such thing. In Georgia, where ballots were re-counted twice by hand to ensure accuracy, a recording showed that state’s Secretary, Brad Raffensperger, (who said he wanted Trump to win), was pressured by Trump to “find 11,780 votes.” (Just one more than Biden had won.)
When the Secretary refused, Trump threatened him with a “criminal offense.” Raffensperger and his family have also received threats.
One of Georgia’s top election officials, Republican Gabriel Sterling, testified about disputing Trump’s election claims about his state, and that he had warned that false claims could result in “someone getting killed.” (Nine people died as a result of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.)
An election volunteer for Georgia shared how she and her mother were targeted by Trump with threats and harassment. The FBI advised them that, for their safety, they should leave their home for two months.
Testimony from the head of the Republican National Committee was also shown: it confirmed that the RNC helped collect false electoral slates.
And the fifth Jan. 6 hearing, on June 23, which included use of White House call logs: Testimony focused on Trump’s efforts to get the Dept. of Justice to declare the 2020 election was tainted by fraud.
Those who served in the Trump Administration at the tail end of his term were questioned: Jeffrey Rosen who became Acting Attorney General in Dec. 2020; Richard Donoghue, then-Acting Deputy AG, and Steven Engel, then-assistant AG for the Office of Legal Counsel (basically the attorney for the AG and the President).
Rosen testified that Trump pressured top Dept. of Justice officials to side with him against the will of the voters. The DOJ did investigate Trump’s election claims, but found no supporting evidence. Trump’s DOJ effort failed, so he went public, claiming the DOJ refused to do its job; far-right members of Congress repeated the lie and met with Trump at the White House to discuss “voter fraud.”
Five days after the Jan. 6 riot the White House received a request for Presidential pardons for lawmakers who voted to reject Electoral Commission vote submissions from Arizona and Pennsylvania.
In calls to DOJ officials’ homes (Dec. 27), Donoghue told Trump “DOJ can’t and won’t snap its fingers, change the outcome of the election.” Trump said they didn’t have to; “Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
Then the saga of resisting Trump’s efforts to rearrange the DOJ began. Acting contrary to DOJ ethical guidelines, a DOJ environmental attorney, Jeffrey Clark, met with Trump; Trump was persuaded by colleagues to replace Acting AG Rosen with Clark. Clark was warned by DOJ that meeting with Trump was contrary to DOJ policy.
Clark then tried to pressure Rosen and Donoghue to sign a DOJ letterhead statement about voter fraud and competing slates of electoral certificates. Clark also said he would not accept Trump’s AG offer if they would sign the letter. Rosen and Donoghue refused, based on the letter’s content of falsehoods. Clark started his own investigation of voter fraud, aided by Ken Klukowski, who started work at DOJ on Dec. 15, and who was working with John Eastman, the man pushing the bogus idea that Vice President Mike Pence had it within his power to not count Biden’s electoral wins.
Trump’s next office-clinging move was to ask DOJ and the Dept. of Homeland Security to seize certain voting machines (Dec. 31), but the DOJ said they’d already investigated the machines and found them not faulty. At that news, Trump warned that he could replace Rosen and Donoghue and make Clark the AG, since he seemed a perfect ally.
DOJ officials met with Trump and stated that going ahead with his Clark-as-AG plan would mean massive resignations at DOJ, casting doubt on his election claims. Trump backed off. At the end of the hearing Republican Rep. Liz Cheney addressed Trump supporters, saying it can be hard to accept that they were deceived by Trump, that their trust was abused.
“Many will invent excuses to ignore that fact.” She added that she wished the deceit was not true, “But it is.”
A surprise House hearing, June 28, on “recently obtained evidence,” was too late for this column to report on.
Speculation was it could bring more people into the fold of “seditious conspiracy.”