In second hearing this month, congressional committee highlights that advisers told Trump fraud allegations were false.
In the second of several hearings aiming to present the findings of a congressional panel investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, lawmakers and witnesses stressed that former President Donald Trump knew that his election fraud allegations were false.
The committee featured on Monday testimonies from former Trump advisers and Justice Department officials who said they explicitly relayed to the ex-president that there was no election corruption.
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Yet, Trump pressed on with his allegations that the election was stolen – accusations that lawmakers on the panel say were behind the Capitol riots, when Trump’s supporters stormed the building in an effort to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
“The election fraud claims were false. Mr Trump’s closest advisors knew it. Mr Trump knew it,” Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.
“That didn’t stop him from pushing the false claims and urging his supporters to ‘fight like hell’, to ‘take back their country’ after he lost the election.”
Here are some of the highlights:
- Former President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien pulled out of his scheduled appearance before the panel, citing a family emergency – his wife went into labour, the panel said.
- Committee stresses that Trump and his advisers knew – contrary to their public claims – that Biden’s 2020 victory was legitimate.
- Former Attorney General William Barr says he thought Trump would be “detached from reality” if he really believed election fraud allegations.
- Panel says Trump and his allies raised nearly $250m in the weeks following the election based on fraud allegations.
- Jamie Raskin, a key Democrat serving on the committee, says the panel laid out “devastating” evidence against Trump in its second hearing.
Below is a timeline of the second hearing as it unfolded:
Raskin says panel laid out ‘devastating’ evidence against Trump
Congressman Raskin, a key Democrat, has said the committee laid out “devastating” evidence against Trump in its second hearing.
“It showed that Donald Trump must have known that his big lie was a lie because all of his lawyers and campaign advisers and the attorney general of the United States were saying the exact same thing: There was no basis to any of these allegations about electoral corruption,” Raskin told reporters.
Panel building case that ‘Trump was not uninformed’
Steve Clemons, veteran US journalist and host of The Bottom Line on Al Jazeera, said the panel is building a case that Trump was deliberate in his attempt to overturn the election based on false election fraud claims.
Panel’s ‘mission’ was highlighting Trump knew there was no fraud
Reporting from the US Capitol, Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro said the panel’s “mission” for the second hearing was to show that Trump knew that he had lost the election, “and yet spread the lie that the election was stolen anyway”.
Several witnesses had testified to that effect as lawmakers stressed the former president’s role in the Capitol attack.
Committee adjourns hearing
The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has adjourned its second hearing this month.
Through witnesses in the room and pre-recorded testimonies, the panel highlighted that Trump was informed by some of his closest aides that claims of widespread election fraud were false.
The next hearing is set for Wednesday.
Upcoming hearings will look at Trump’s push to ‘corrupt’ justice department
Upcoming hearings by the committee will look at efforts by Trump to “corrupt” the justice department and pressure local officials to overturn the election, Cheney has said.
“In the coming days, you will see the committee move on to President Trump’s broader planning for January 6, including his plan to corrupt the Department of Justice, and his detailed planning with lawyer John Eastman to pressure the vice president, state legislatures, state officials and others to overturn the election,” she said.
‘The big rip-off’: Trump pushed fraud claim to raise money, panel says
Congresswoman Lofgren has accused Trump of prolonging failed election-related litigation and fraud claims to raise money from supporters.
“Not only was there the big lie, there was the big rip-off,” Lofgren said. “Donors deserve to know where their funds are really going. They deserve better than what President Trump and his team did.”
In a pre-recorded video Amanda Wick, senior investigative counsel with the committee, said Trump and his allies raised nearly $250m in the weeks following the election after incessantly sending emails to supporters asking for donations.
“The Trump campaign knew these claims of voter fraud were false, yet they continued to barrage small-dollar donors with emails encouraging them to donate to something called the Official Election Defense Fund,” Wick says.
While no such fund existed, Wick said, the bulk of the money went to a separate entity called the Save America PAC, and from there millions were dispensed to organisations associated with Trump allies.
Republicans push to discredit committee
High profile Republican lawmakers and members of the Trump family have lashed out against the second hearing as they sought to discredit the panel.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a strong Trump ally, called the hearings an “illegitimate political witch-hunt”.
Donald Trump Jr, the former president’s son, tweeted that the Republican vice chair of the committee, Liz Cheney, should be investigated for using a “sham of a committee” to “harass her political enemies”.
Former justice department officials dismiss ballot ‘suitcase’ claim in Georgia
Former US attorney Byung J Pak, who conducted an investigation into alleged voter fraud involving an apparent suitcase of ballots at a polling station in Georgia, dismissed the claim, which was advanced by Trump allies based on a video.
Pak told the committee that the suitcase in question was, in fact, an “official lockbox where ballots were kept safe”.
Donoghue, the former acting deputy attorney general, said he informed Trump that these allegations were false.
“I told the president myself that several times, in several conversations that these allegations about ballots being smuggled in the suitcase and run through the machine several times, it was not true,” Donoghue says in a video.
Former deputy attorney general says he told Trump election fraud claims were false
Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue has said he told Trump that election fraud accusations were false, but each time the Justice Department would dismiss one fraud claim, the former president would bring up another one.
“I told him flat-out that much of the information he’s getting is false and/or just not supported by the evidence,” Donoghue says in a video. “We look at the allegations, but they don’t pan out.”
‘Detached from reality’: Barr says Trump had no interest in facts
Former Attorney General Barr has said Trump appeared to have no interest in the facts when he was making his election fraud allegations, including promoting unfounded reports of rigged voting machines.
“I thought boy… he’s become detached from reality, if he really believed this stuff,” Barr says in a video. “On the other hand when I went into this and would tell him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts are.”
Ex-White House lawyer says some election fraud theories were ‘nuts’
Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann has said some of the election fraud theories advanced by Sidney Powell’s team, who had served as a Trump lawyer, were “nuts”.
“What they were proposing, I thought was nuts. The theory was also completely nuts,” Herschmann said in a video.
Ex-attorney general says Trump claimed election fraud ‘right out of the box’
Former Attorney General William Barr has said Trump started making election fraud accusations early on on election night as more Democratic votes started coming in, shrinking his lead in several states.
“Right out of the box on election night, the president claimed that there was major fraud under way,” Barr says in a video. “I mean this happened as far as I can tell before there was actually any potential evidence.”
Barr added that the “dynamic” of late Democratic votes, which were mail-in ballots, had been expected for weeks.
Committee paints image of White House on election night
The panel has played a collection of clips from the testimonies of several former Trump advisers, who painted a picture of a grim mood at the White House on election night when the former president falsely declared victory and started his claims of election fraud.
The former president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, his ex-campaign manager Bill Stepien, then-adviser Jason Miller and lawyer Rudy Giuliani all featured.
Miller said Giuliani had had too much to drink that night, but he added that he did not know his level of intoxication when he spoke to Trump.
‘Trump knew’ there was no election fraud: Congresswoman
Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has stressed that Trump knew that his allegations of election fraud were false – an assertion that is shaping up to be the main theme of the hearing.
“The election fraud claims were false. Mr Trump’s closest advisors knew it. Mr Trump knew it,” Lofgren said. “That didn’t stop him from pushing the false claims and urging his supporters to ‘fight like hell’, to ‘take back their country’ after he lost the election.”
Ex-White House lawyer says no evidence of voting machine fraud
Eric Herschmann, a former White House lawyer who served under Trump, has dismissed the theory that voting machines were rigged.
“I never saw any evidence whatsoever to sustain those allegations,” Herschmann said in a video played at the hearing.
Trump ‘betrayed trust’ of Americans: Panel chair
Committee chair Thompson has accused Trump of pushing to remain in power against the will of the American people.
“He didn’t have the numbers. He went to court. He still didn’t have the numbers; he lost,” Thompson said.
“But he betrayed the trust of the American people. He ignored the will of the voters. He lied to his supporters and the country. And he tried to remain in office after the people had voted him out.”
Congressman Bennie Thompson, the committee chair, has gavelled in the hearing, some 45 minutes after it was scheduled to start.
Early in his opening testimony, Thompson took aim at Trump, accusing him of waging an “attack” on US democracy by rejecting election results.
Trump ‘knew he lost’ 2020 elections, panel says
In a Twitter post previewing Monday’s hearing, the January 6 committee said Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud “set the stage” for the riots at the Capitol.
“The Select Committee will present evidence that Trump knew he lost the 2020 election but continued to spread false claims of election fraud,” the panel said.
“Trump’s false claims set the stage for the violent attack on January 6.”
Hearing delayed by more than 30 minutes
Monday’s hearing, previously scheduled for 10am local time (14:00 GMT), has been delayed by more than 30 minutes.
The panel announced earlier that Trump’s former campaign manager cancelled his appearance at the committee citing a family emergency.
Republicans pivot to Capitol security
Republican officials, who have dismissed the January 6 hearings as a political show, have been trying to draw attention to what they describe as inadequate security at the US Capitol on the day of the attack in an apparent effort to deflect from Trump’s role in the riots.
“Far-Left Democrats and their Partisan Puppets failed to focus on how to secure the People’s House,” House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, a close Trump ally, wrote on Twitter.
Stefanik had replaced Liz Cheney, a Trump critic and one of two Republicans on the January 6 panel, as conference chair last year.
Former Fox News editor to testify
Chris Stirewalt, a former political editor of Fox News, is expected to testify at the panel.
Stirewalt came under fire from Trump and his supporters after the Fox News political desk was the first to call Arizona for Biden in November 2020. Fox has denied that his departure had anything to do with that call.
Key Democrat says panel referring ‘crimes’ to Justice Department, US public
Congressman Jamie Raskin, a key Democrat serving on the committee, has said the panel’s probe is referring the wrongdoings around the attack on the Capitol to the Justice Department as well as the US public.
“I suppose our entire investigation is a referral of crimes both to the Department of Justice and the American people, because this is a massive assault on the machinery of American democracy,” Raskin said on CNN.
Trump’s ex-campaign manager no longer testifying
Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien has abruptly pulled out of his scheduled appearance before the panel, citing a family emergency, the committee said.
Stepien was expected to be a witness for the hearing as the panel delves deeper into what it calls the “big lie”, the defeated president’s false claims of voter fraud that spurred his effort to overturn the 2020 election.
The committee said Stepien’s lawyer will appear and make a statement on the record.
Key takeaways from last hearing
Former President Donald Trump took centre stage in the first of seven highly anticipated public hearings by the congressional panel investigating the January 6, 2021 US capitol riots.
Lawmakers tried to highlight the violent nature of the attack on the Capitol, warning that US democracy was “at risk”.
Read the key takeaways from last Thursday’s hearing here.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s live coverage of a United States congressional committee’s public hearing in its probe into the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.