WASHINGTON — Then-President Donald Trump’s top advisers told him his allegations of widespread voter fraud were unfounded and would not undo his 2020 election loss, but he refused to listen, according to testimony on Monday during an investigative committee hearing into the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the United States Capitol.
Close aides and family members said they told Trump they found no basis in a wide range of often outlandish allegations that surfaced after his election defeat, including reports of a ” suspicious suitcase” containing fake ballots, a truck transporting ballots to Pennsylvania and computer chips. exchanged for voting machines.
“I was thinking, boy, if he really believes in these things that he’s lost touch with, he’s become detached from reality,” said William Barr, who served as Trump’s attorney general and has long been known for his loyalty to the Republican President. In video testimony, Barr outright dismissed the fraud allegations, calling them “bullshit” and “crazy stuff.”
“There was never any indication of interest in the actual facts,” he said.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the assault on the US Capitol by thousands of Trump supporters presented its second of six findings due this month on its investigation of nearly a year on the riot.
Monday’s hearing sought to prove that Trump ignored the advice of many of his own employees when he claimed the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.
Committee members argue that Trump’s repeated fraud allegations, known to Democrats as “The Big Lie,” convinced his supporters to attack the Capitol.
“He and his closest advisers knew these claims were false, but they continued to peddle them anyway, until the moments before the Capitol was attacked by a mob of Trump supporters,” said Democratic Rep. Zoe. Lofgren to the panel during his second hearing.
One person who was part of the crowd that entered the nation’s capital was Tyler Ethridge, a 2017 graduate of Charis Bible College in Woodland Park. One of many who entered the capital and posted a video, one of his videos concluded the panel’s presentation on Monday.
“I’m not saying what we’re doing is right, but if the election is stolen, what’s it going to take?” he says in the video.
In the fallout, Christ-Centered Church of Tampa, a congregation in Dover, Florida, announced on January 19, 2021 that Ethridge was no longer working there.
Democrats said Trump raised some $250 million from supporters to push allegations of fraud in court, but instead directed much of the money elsewhere.
“The ‘Big Lie’ was a big rip-off too,” Lofgren said.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and repeatedly insisted he did not lose, dismissing the select committee’s investigation as a political witch hunt.
Opinion polls show that many Trump supporters still believe his bogus claims about the election. Some are now running for positions where they would oversee future elections. Trump hinted that he would run for president again in 2024, but did not announce a decision.
Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, said he recommended on election night that Trump avoid any declaration of victory and instead declare that the votes were still being counted.
“He thought I was wrong. He told me, and they were going to leave, he was going to go in a different direction,” Stepien said in videotaped testimony. Stepien was to testify in person, but canceled at the last minute when his wife gave birth.
Trump went on television to preemptively declare victory at the request of Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor. Campaign adviser Jason Miller said Giuliani was not sober at the time.
“The mayor was definitely drunk but I, uh, didn’t know his level of drunkenness when he spoke with the president, for example,” Miller said in video testimony.
Byung J. “BJay” Pak, who resigned as a U.S. attorney in Atlanta as Trump’s camp questioned Georgia’s election results, said he found no evidence of fraud in this state.
Referring to the suspicious suitcase that supposedly contained fake or altered ballots, Pak said, seated at the witness table: “The alleged black suitcase pulled from under the table was an official lock box.”
Monday’s session followed a Thursday night hearing with testimony showing close Trump allies — even Trump’s daughter Ivanka — dismissed his bogus claims of voter fraud. Nearly 20 million Americans watched the primetime television audience.
Four people died the day of the attack, one fatally shot by police and the others from natural causes. Some 140 police officers were injured and one died the following day. Four officers later died by suicide.
Nearly 850 people have been arrested for crimes related to the riot, including more than 250 charged with assault or obstructing law enforcement.
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