The second day of the Jan. 6 select committee’s public hearings rewound the tape a bit - back to the event that precipitated the notorious assault on the Capitol: Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.
The committee unveiled evidence to show that the Republican president was told repeatedly after the vote that he had lost reelection; that his aides shot down rumors of widespread fraud; and that he nevertheless began lying, saying the election was stolen.
If the first public hearing of the committee last week was like the introduction to a book, on Monday the committee invited the public to dive into the first chapter.
Outlining the big con
The Jan. 6 committee’s investigation may not result in any high-profile criminal convictions. It may not convince a single person to change their minds about how they feel about that day. It may not even convince people to watch each hearing as if it were must-see television.
But one thing the committee might be able to do is to highlight how Trump conned his supporters.
Many of the facts unveiled during Monday’s hearing were known, at least by those who have paid close attention. News reports and books have long laid out that Trump was repeatedly told his claims of election fraud weren’t true; that his lawyers lost 60 times in court; and that Trump used his fundraising machine to get money to fight the election results in court, but he didn’t spend a lot of the $250 million he raised.
But never before have these facts been told for a sustained amount of time on television, including Fox News Channel - and told by Republicans such as the formidable Liz Cheney. That happened during the two-hour-plus hearing on Monday.
Trump was told repeatedly that he lost
The star witness, former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, turned out to be a no-show after learning that his wife was in labor. But the panel showed plenty of videotaped testimony from Stepien as he walked the committee through the events of election night and beyond.
The testimony from Stepien and others, including former attorney general Bill Barr, took center stage. Neither believed Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud - and they said they told Trump that personally. They said he refused to listen and went looking for those who would indulge him.
It may have all begun with a drunk Rudy Giuliani
One of the most interesting nuggets came from former staffers of Trump who said the so-called Big Lie all began because an intoxicated Rudy Giuliani was at the White House on election night and had Trump’s ear.
He encouraged Trump to declare victory and say there were a lot of problems with the election, even though there was no evidence of it.
Stepien said he and others on “Team Normal” were opposed to the Giuliani stance, but Trump went with Giuliani’s suggestion nonetheless.
Another staff member who disagreed with the former New York mayor was Jason Miller, then a senior adviser to the campaign. Miller, during his deposition, said, “The mayor was definitely intoxicated” that night.
While Trump had long said ominously during the campaign that he believed the election would be “rigged,” his forceful speech in the early morning hours claiming that he won, according to the committee, was what began to put in motion the violent insurrection on Jan. 6 at the Capitol.