WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot is delving into what it calls “the big lie,” Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud that fueled his tireless efforts to void the 2020 election and have led a crowd of his supporters to depose seat of the United States Capitol.
The 1/6 panel resumes hearings on Monday with live witnesses including Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien as committee members say they have uncovered enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider a criminal indictment without precedent against the former president. Stepien was subpoenaed for his public testimony.
President Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice President Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, are set to lead the morning audience after last week’s blockbuster session drew nearly 20 million Americans to see his findings in prime time.
For a year, the committee has been investigating the most violent attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 to ensure that such an assault never happens again. His findings come as Trump considers another bid for the White House, and some are warning his efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory posed a serious threat to democracy.
Stepien, a longtime Trump ally, oversaw the “conversion” of Trump’s presidential campaign into a “Stop the Steal” effort, according to a subpoena issued by the committee last fall. He is likely to face questions about what members of Trump’s inner circle were telling the president about the election results. Stepien is now a top campaign adviser to Trump-endorsed House candidate Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Cheney in Wyoming’s Republican primary.
In addition to Stepien, the committee is also expected to hear testimony from Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor closely involved in election night coverage who supported the decision to declare Arizona won by Biden. He wrote about his experiences later in an op-ed and could be asked about Trump’s actions as Fox New said Biden had won.
A second group of witnesses testifying Monday will be made up of election officials, investigators and experts likely to discuss Trump’s responses to the election, including dozens of unsuccessful legal challenges, and how his actions diverged. American standards.
Among them is former Atlanta U.S. attorney BJay Pak, who abruptly resigned after Trump pressured Georgia state officials to reverse his presidential defeat. Trump wanted to fire Pak as disloyal, but Pak resigned after Trump’s call urging Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state became public knowledge.
The panel will also hear from former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, the only Republican on the electoral board and who faced criticism as the state election was called for Biden; and famed Washington lawyer and election attorney Benjamin Ginsberg.
As he ponders a run for the White House, Trump denounces the investigation into his efforts to overturn Biden’s election as a “witch hunt”. He said last week that January 6 “represented the greatest movement in the history of our country”.
Nine people died in the riot and its aftermath, including a Trump supporter shot dead by police. More than 800 people were arrested in the siege, and members of two extremist groups were charged with rare sedition charges for their role in leading the charge against the Capitol.
During its prime-time hearing, the committee explained how Trump was repeatedly told by his trusted aides and officials at the highest levels of government that there was no voter fraud. on a scale that could have changed the outcome. But Trump continued his false claims about the election and waved to his supporters in Washington on Jan. 6 to overturn Biden’s victory as Congress had to certify the Electoral College results.
Additional evidence is expected to be released in hearings this week, focusing on Trump’s decision to ignore the election result and the court cases against him.
Monday’s hearing will also focus on the millions of dollars Trump’s team has contributed to fundraising in the run-up to Jan. 6, according to a committee aide who insisted on anonymity to discuss the details.
The committee said most of those interviewed in the inquiry are coming forward voluntarily, although some have wanted subpoenas to appear in public. It is unclear why Stepien received a subpoena. A Trump spokesman, Taylor Budowich, suggested the committee’s decision to call Stepien was politically motivated.
Lawmakers have indicated that their most important audience member during the hearings could be Attorney General Merrick Garland, who must decide whether his department can and should prosecute Trump. They left no doubt as to their own view of whether the evidence is sufficient to prosecute.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said on CNN he had no intention of “breaking up” Garland, but noted that the committee had already set out in criminal law pleadings that they thought Trump had raped them.
“I think he knows, his staff knows, American lawyers know, what’s at stake here,” Raskin said.
No president or ex-president has ever been charged. Garland did not say whether he would be willing to sue, which would be complicated in a political election season in which Trump has openly flirted with the idea of running for president again.
By Lisa Mascaro and Hope Yen, Associated Press
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