Trump Campaign Manager to Lead Jan. 6 Hearing on Election Lies

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Capitol Hill plans to use testimony from former President Donald J. Trump’s own campaign manager against him Monday as it presents evidence that Trump He knowingly spread the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him in an attempt to reverse his defeat.

The committee plans to call Bill Stepien, the final chairman of the Trump campaign, who is expected to tell what the campaign and the former president himself knew about his fictitious claims of widespread voter fraud. Those claims will be the focus of the second in a series of hearings the panel will hold this month to reveal the findings of its extensive investigation.

After an explosive first hearing last week in prime time, committee leaders aim to keep a steady stream of revelations about the scale of Trump’s plot to nullify the election and how he sowed the seeds of the violent siege on Capitol Hill. by his followers last year.

On Monday, they plan to outline the origin and spread of Trump’s election lies, including the former president’s refusal to listen to advisers who told him he had lost and that there was no evidence of widespread wrongdoing that could change the outcome. They then plan to demonstrate the chaos those falsehoods caused in various states, ultimately resulting in the riot.

A committee aide said the panel would focus in particular on Trump’s election night decision to declare victory despite being told he didn’t have the numbers to win.

A second panel of witnesses will include Byung J. Pak, a former federal prosecutor in Atlanta who abruptly resigned after refusing to say widespread voter fraud had been found in Georgia.

According to an internal memo made public as part of a court case, the Trump campaign had known since November that its outlandish fraud claims were false. Last week, the panel showed videotaped testimony from his top advisers and even the attorney general at the time, William P. Barr, saying they had told Trump and top White House officials.

Stepien was on hand for key conversations about what the data showed about Trump’s chances of succeeding in an effort to win swing states, beginning on Election Night. She was part of a meeting with Mr. Trump on November 7, 2020, just after the television networks called an election for President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in which he told Mr. Trump about extremely low odds. of success with the challenges of it.

Trump, prompted by his attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, wanted to go ahead anyway.

Stepien, who rarely speaks in public, appears under subpoena, raising questions about how willing he will be as a witness against Trump.

Mr. Stepien is currently serving as an adviser to Harriet Hageman, a Republican backed by Mr. Trump who is challenging Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming and vice chair of the panel, in the primary, setting up a potentially antagonistic dynamic for her questioning on Monday.

The committee of January 6 suggested in a letter sent to Mr. Stepien that he had proof that he knew the campaign was raising money by making false claims about voter fraud.

“As manager of the Trump 2020 re-election campaign, you oversaw every aspect of the campaign,” the letter said. “Next, you oversaw the conversion of the Trump presidential campaign into an effort focused on the ‘Stop the Steal’ message and related fundraising. That message included the promotion of certain false claims related to voting machines despite an internal campaign memo in which campaign staff determined that such claims were false.”

Stepien will appear alongside Chris Stirewalt, the former Fox News political editor who was fired after Fox correctly called the 2020 Arizona presidential election for Biden, a move that angered Trump.

The second part of the hearing will focus on the repercussions of Trump’s false claims across the country, particularly in competitive states. Along with Pak, who resigned after learning Trump wanted to fire him for rejecting claims of rampant voter fraud in Georgia, the panel is scheduled to hear from Al Schmidt, a former Republican Philadelphia city commissioner who also stood up to Trump’s lies. Mr. Trump. Benjamin Ginsberg, a Republican election attorney who served as a national adviser to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and played a central role in the 2000 Florida recount, is also scheduled to appear.

Monday’s witness list suggests the committee wants to record the impact Trump’s lies had on conservative media and in multiple states, as well as contrast the unsubstantiated nature of Trump’s claims with legitimate legal challenges from Republican campaigns in the United States. past.

A committee aide said the panel would present evidence during the hearing from witnesses who had investigated Trump’s fraud claims and found them false.

The panel also plans to show how Trump’s fiction of a stolen election was used as a fundraising tool, generating hundreds of millions of dollars between Election Day 2020 and Jan. 6. A fraudulent fundraising effort could be grounds for a possible criminal referral to the Justice Department against Trump and his allies.

And some on the committee have long believed that one way to break through to Trump supporters would be to show them that they had been duped into donating their money to a bogus cause.

Aides said the committee would also try Monday to show how rioters who stormed the Capitol echoed Trump’s words and cited him as their motivation for storming the building in a bid to prevent Congress from formalizing their defeat.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and chair of the House Administration Committee, will play a key role in presenting evidence at the hearing, attendees said.

Time and time again, top officials in the Trump administration told Trump that he had lost the 2020 election. But time and time again, Trump followed through on his lies about widespread fraud.

Shortly after the election, while votes were still being counted, Trump’s re-election campaign’s top data expert told him bluntly that he was going to lose.

In the weeks that followed, as Trump continued to insist he had won, he was repeatedly told by a senior Justice Department official that his claims of widespread voter fraud were baseless, warning him that they would ultimately “harm the country.” .

Those concerns were echoed by the top White House counsel, who told the president he would enter into a “murder-suicide pact” if he went ahead with his extreme plans to try to invalidate the 2020 election results.

Last week, the Jan. 6 panel played video of an interview in which Barr testified that he knew the president’s claims were false and told him so three times.

“I told the president it was bullshit,” Barr is heard saying to committee investigators. “I didn’t want to be a part of it.”

Committee members previewed some of the evidence they plan to present at Monday’s hearing during television interviews on Sunday.

“Former President Trump was told by multiple people, he should have been very clear, that there was no evidence showing the election was stolen, and he ignored that,” said Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat from Virginia and a member of the committee. on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, drew a contrast between those close to Trump who told him the truth and the “yes people” who encouraged his fantasy of stolen elections to please him.

“If you really believe they stole the election, then if the president really believed that, he’s not mentally capable of being president,” Kinzinger said on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” adding, “I think he didn’t. . I think the people around him didn’t believe it. It was about holding power against the will of the American people.”

Michael S. Schmidt contributed report.

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