Jan 6 panel says Trump fleeced his base and 5 other takeaways from second hearing

Committee members sit on the dais as the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol continues on June 13.

Jabin Botsford/AP

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Jabin Botsford/AP

Committee members sit on the dais as the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol continues on June 13.

Jabin Botsford/AP

This time it was not in prime time, but the January 6 committee held a surprising hearing on Monday in the second of seven promised.

This hearing pulled back the curtain on what life was like on the Trump campaign and in the White House in the days after Election Night 2020.

Using recorded testimony from Trump’s campaign advisers and lawyers, the committee painted a picture of a president who refused to listen to the truth, isolated himself in a conspiracy bubble of election lies, swindled his own supporters out of money based on in lies and exercised power to incite violence.

Here are 6 takeaways from what we learned from the hearing:

1. It was “Normal Team” against Trump.

This is the kind of stuff you usually only get from post-campaign books with deep reporting. Instead, it was live on television with testimonials recorded on camera from people at the highest levels of the Trump campaign.

The committee used extensive footage from its taped interviews with Trump 2020 campaign professionals: Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, senior adviser Jason Miller and various attorneys. (Stepien was originally scheduled to testify in person, but he was unable to do so because his wife went into labor.) Stepien said that he was happy to be called “Normal Team”, although not everyone buys that brand change of the person who led the effort to re-elect Trump.

Still, this group of campaign professionals says they all had the same message: They tried to tell Trump the truth: that the outlook was bleak, that he shouldn’t declare victory on election night, that he was going to lose, and that his claims of voter fraud were, as former Attorney General Bill Barr called them, “bogus and dumb,” “idiotic,” “stupid,” “completely pointless,” “crazy stuff.” And that doesn’t include the three times Monday’s audience heard Barr say the claims were “b*******” and “do the country a great disservice.”

2. Trump didn’t listen to the professionals and instead “detached himself from reality.”

Trump broke with the team that had run his campaign and was trying to get him re-elected and instead plunged into a deep rabbit hole of bogus conspiracies that were repeatedly debunked by lawyers and Justice Department officials.

Barr described the fast and furious nature of those conspiracies as “hitting a mole.” Former Acting Attorney General Richard Donoghue said the Justice Department looked into the details, debunked them and told the president as much. How did Trump react?

“He wouldn’t fight us over it, he would just move on to someone else,” Donoghue said in taped testimony.

According to testimonies, Trump looked like a president throwing everything he could against the wall to try to stay in power.

“If you really believe in these things,” Barr said during his interview with the committee. “He has distanced himself from reality.”

Trump dismissed people who knew the numbers and who verified his false claims. It was clear from the hearing, based on the wide range of testimony, that Trump began listening to three controversial figures: Rudy Giuliani (whom Stepien and campaign adviser Jason Miller described as “intoxicated” on election night), attorney Sidney Powell and former adviser Pedro Navarro.

3. Coming from so many Republicans testifying, it’s much harder for them to simply be dismissed.

It is notable that the people the audience heard Monday in his testimony were all Republicans.

That has weight. Even when it comes to Stepien, she works for Republican Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed candidate in Wyoming who is challenging Vice President Liz Cheney.

These were many of the people in Trump’s inner circle: on his campaign, trying to elect him, and even his family, Jared and Ivanka Trump, who had formally worked in his White House.

Conservatives are getting a different message from where they get their news and information, but if they take a look at the main source and who it’s coming from (many people who are on their side), it’s possible that some can break through.

At least it makes it harder for Trump to fire them.

4. The committee began to design a plucked MAGA

In the second part of the hearing, a committee investigator said in a recorded interview that $250 million was raised from Trump supporters’ election lies after Election Day, including $150 million in the first week.

But, the investigator said, most of the money went to groups supporting Trump, not to fund court battles. The committee said most of the money went to Save America PAC, which is the main political action committee supporting Trump. Trump’s press releases go through him, for example.

He said the money also went to other outside groups that support Trump and where former Trump officials get a salary; a charitable foundation with connections to Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows; and even the Trump hotel chain.

“The Big Lie was also a huge scam,” said Zoe Lofgren, committee member, D-Calif. She added that “Trump supporters deserve better than what Trump and his allies did.”

Much of this was presented in summary, but it would be nice if the committee also presented some of the details of their findings. And there is also a legal question about the fundraising practice: was it illegal or just corrupt?

5. Many people have faced the consequences of January 6, but they are mostly not the people at the top, yet.

In his opening statement, Cheney pointed to the consequences that many have already faced because of January 6.

“Hundreds of our countrymen have faced criminal charges,” Cheney said. “Many are serving criminal sentences because they believed what Donald Trump said about the election and acted accordingly. They came to Washington DC, at his request, they marched on Capitol Hill at his request, and hundreds of them besieged and invaded the building at the heart of our constitutional Republic.”

More than 840 people have been charged over the January 6 riots and insurrection, but many have said, and the committee has proven, that Trump is the one who inspired them to be there, and there has been relatively little fallout for him and his members. inner circle that drove them.

“As a conservative editorial board recently put it, ‘Mr. Trump betrayed his supporters by scamming them on January 6, and he still does,'” Cheney continued.

6. During two days of hearings, the committee is methodically establishing the basic components of its public impeachment that Trump is responsible for on January 6.

The committee’s case against Trump essentially boils down to this:

-I had the reason (and, of course, the opportunity as president): hold on to power and make money.

He had the ability to incite violence. That was evidenced by the testimony of former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt. Once Trump hounded him on Twitter, Schmidt said he faced death threats.

-And people acted on what they said. That was made clear in testimony from white nationalists on Thursday, who said they went to DC because they believed they were acting at Trump’s behest. And then after a day of listening to all the false conspiracies and election lies that Trump was spouting, there was a video of people on January 6 echoing those lies.

There are five more hearings to come, including Wednesday and Thursday.

Some 20 million people watched on Thursday night. The question is how many will follow and assimilate the material themselves rather than through their preferred ideological source of information.


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