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Jan. 6 committee turns focus to Trump's efforts to pressure states to overturn Biden's win

Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state who refused Trump's demands, will be a key witness at Tuesday's hearing.
Image: Brad Raffensperger
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at a news conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta on Dec. 14, 2020.Dustin Chambers / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack will hold its fourth public hearing Tuesday, focusing on an elaborate effort by former President Donald Trump and his allies to strong-arm state officials to defy voters and hand him the 2020 election, committee members and aides said.

Building on previous hearings, the committee said it will show the intricacies of a scheme that sought to manipulate the electoral vote total to deprive Joe Biden of the majority needed to win.

The panel said it will lay out a central element of the plan: getting Trump supporters in key swing states to submit official-looking certificates claiming they were the legitimate electors, even though Trump had actually lost those states.

The plan failed when then-Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the electoral vote count on Jan. 6, 2021, refused to recognize the pro-Trump slates and instead certified Biden’s victory. Pence drew the rage of the-pro Trump mob that breached the Capitol that day and roamed the hallways chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.”

Tuesday’s hearing, set to begin at 1 p.m. ET, will also show the human toll of Trump’s multi-pronged effort to remain in power despite his defeat.

Witnesses appearing live before the panel will describe how they were hounded and harassed for doing their jobs and upholding Biden’s rightful victory in their states. One witness will be Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, who stood firm when Trump implored him in a recorded phone call to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s narrow victory in the state.

Another is Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the House in Arizona, who got a call from Trump and his ally Rudy Giuliani after the election telling him of an Arizona law that would allow the Legislature to pick its slate of electors. Bowers reportedly told them, “You are giving me nothing but conjecture and asking me to break my oath and commit to doing something that I cannot do because I swore I wouldn’t.”

A committee aide told reporters Monday on the condition of anonymity that “lies” about the election “led to threats that put state and local officials and their families at risk.”

It’s no accident that Bowers and Raffensperger are Republicans who supported Trump’s re-election. In presenting its case, the committee has made extensive use of GOP witnesses and Trump White House officials, underscoring that even Trump’s allies recoiled at what they saw as an attempt to thwart the popular will. 

Leading the hearing will be Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who was the top manager in Trump’s first impeachment trial. In a weekend interview with CNN, Schiff said the panel will show evidence of Trump’s role in what’s known as the “fake elector” gambit.

The committee aide said: “We’ll show that the president was warned that these actions, including false claims of election fraud and pressuring state and local officials, risked violence. They risked undermining confidence in our democratic institutions. But they continued to embrace those lies and continued to drive forward with this pressure campaign.”

Another hearing set for Thursday will center on how Trump implored the Justice Department to root out widespread voter fraud that didn’t exist.

Trump has complained that the committee is failing to present witnesses who’ve defended his actions. “I have sooo many witnesses to everything good,” he wrote on his social media site, Truth Social, “but the highly partisan and one-sided Unselect Committee of political hacks has not interest in hearing or seeing them.”

Asked whether the panel might want Trump to testify and offer his version of events, the committee aide said: “The committee has long said that anyone with relevant information is welcome to come talk to us.”