WASHINGTON — Each new revelation in public testimony before the Jan. 6 committee has been more explosive than the last — from former President Donald Trump’s direct role in organizing “fake electors” to tirades that left ketchup oozing down a White House wall.
As the panel resumes its televised public hearings this week, lawmakers are focused on demonstrating how Trump’s actions merged with and culminated in the violence at the Capitol.
Committee members say it’s easy to sum up everything that’s been presented. “He lost, he knew it and he embarked on an alternate effort to stay in power,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., who is expected to lead questioning at an upcoming hearing.
But for those who haven’t watched every minute of the hearings — and even for some who have — it can be difficult to process all of the new information and keep it fresh as new bombshells drop. These are the key revelations so far.
Trump was told he lost — fair and square
Several of Trump’s political advisers testified in clips played at committee hearings that they told him he had lost the election to Democrat Joe Biden.
Bill Stepien, who served as Trump’s campaign manager, told investigators that he had informed Trump on election night that he would be wrong to declare victory — and that Trump dismissed his assertion in favor of adviser Rudy Giuliani’s unfounded and false claims that the election had been riddled with fraud.
Jason Miller, another Trump adviser, testified that Giuliani was inebriated on election night, which Giuliani has disputed. Trump’s camp split into two factions, with his main political aides forming what Stepien called “Team Normal,” which continued to report to him that Biden had won.
William Barr, the attorney general until mid-December 2020, testified that he and Trump fought over Barr’s public assertion that the Justice Department had found no grounds for claims of widespread election fraud. Barr, who ultimately resigned, told investigators that Trump was “detached from reality” if he believed the election was rigged.
Former Justice Department officials testified that Trump pressured them to reverse Barr’s conclusion.
“Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” Trump told Justice officials on Dec. 27, according to notes kept by then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue.
The ‘fake electors’ plot
Many details of Trump’s campaign to pressure state officials to overturn the election results and appoint alternate electors were already known publicly before the committee began its work.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump told Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a post-election phone call that is now the subject of a Georgia investigation, for example.
But testimony and documents produced by the committee revealed a much broader campaign by Trump and two of his lawyers — Giuliani and John Eastman — to stop valid electoral votes from being counted on Jan. 6.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel testified in a prerecorded deposition that Trump introduced her to Eastman over the phone and Eastman laid out a plan for the committee to help organize slates of what she called “contingent electors” in pivotal states where Trump lost.
Trump supporters in several closely contested states ultimately submitted documents signed by fake electors to the National Archives and tried to get them in Vice President Mike Pence’s hands to allow him to count those electors — or at least throw the validity of the real electoral votes into doubt.
The committee showed a text-message exchange in which an aide to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., tried to arrange a meeting between the senator and Pence on Jan. 6 so that Johnson could give Pence bogus slates. A Pence aide nixed the idea. (Johnson has played down the importance of the texts and said he wasn't involved in creating the slates.)
Trump and his advisers viewed Jan. 6, when Pence would oversee the official count of electoral votes, as their last chance to keep Trump in power despite his defeat.
As Jan. 6 neared, Trump’s team became increasingly resigned to the idea that Pence was the last man standing between Trump and more time in the Oval Office — even though Pence had been advised, and believed, that he had no legal authority to do anything other than count the actual electoral votes.
Trump planned to use a “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 to rally his supporters to march to the Capitol, where he would join them, Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified last week.
She said Giuliani told her four days before the rally, “We’re going to the Capitol. ... The president is going to be there. He’s going to look powerful.”
When Hutchinson informed Meadows of the exchange, he replied, “Things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6,” according to her testimony.
On Jan. 4, Eastman told Trump that there was no legal basis for Pence to interfere with the electoral-vote count, Pence counsel Greg Jacob testified. Still, Trump homed in on the vice president.
During a phone call the morning of the insurrection, Trump berated Pence and called him "the 'p' word," according to recorded testimony from Julie Radford, who was an aide to Ivanka Trump.
The former president also put enormous public pressure on Pence by tweeting about him and invoking his role in the vote count repeatedly during his rally near the White House on the morning of Jan. 6.
Trump knew supporters were armed
At one point during his rally, Trump was told that some of his supporters were declining to come through magnetometers — metal detectors — because they were armed, Hutchinson testified.
“I don’t f---ing care that they have weapons,” Trump railed, according to Hutchinson’s testimony. “They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f---ing mags away.”
Trump then urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, where extremist groups were waiting to be joined by the mob, and told them he would join them.
Hutchinson testified that Trump became irate when Secret Service officers told him they were driving him back to the White House instead of the Capitol after the rally. She testified that she was told he tried to take control of the steering wheel. A person close to the Secret Service previously confirmed that Trump was furious about not being driven to the Capitol but said that the altercation Hutchinson described did not happen.
In trying to establish a pattern of outbursts, Hutchinson told a story about Trump flinging his lunch, leaving her and another White House staff member to clean ketchup off the wall.
At the Capitol on Jan. 6, insurrectionists attacked police officers and breached the building. Some of them chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” as rioters came within 40 feet of the man first in line to the presidency, according to the committee.
At the White House, Trump was informed that the Capitol was under attack and Pence’s life was in danger. Hutchinson testified that she was present for a conversation in which White House counsel Pat Cipollone tried to get Meadows to intervene.
“You heard him [Trump], Pat,” Meadows said, according to Hutchinson. “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”