Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ Takes Center Stage at Jan. 6 Second Hearing

A former Trump campaign manager and a federal prosecutor the then-president considered firing are among those to testify Monday as the Jan. 6 committee works to show how Trump went ahead with his plans to stay in power despite “They told him over and over again that he didn’t have [the] Numbers to win”.

“Tomorrow’s hearing is focused on the big lie: the former president’s decision to ignore the will of the voters, declare victory in an election he lost, spread accusations of fraud, and then decide to ignore court rulings when the trial for of course he didn’t go his way,” a committee aide said in a call with reporters.

Stepien will join a panel with Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor who was a member of the network team that made the decision to call Arizona for now-President Biden on election night in 2020.

BJay Pak, a former federal prosecutor in Georgia, will speak publicly for the first time since resigning as Trump fumed over the Justice Department’s refusal to investigate his baseless allegations of voter fraud. Pak will be joined by conservative election attorney Ben Ginsberg and Al Schmidt, a Republican election official in Philadelphia who drew Trump’s ire after he refused to say the 2020 election was rigged.

Monday’s hearing, the second in a planned series after Thursday’s prime-time start, is an important element in the committee’s plan to show that “Trump oversaw a sophisticated seven-part plan to nullify the presidential election,” Like Vice President Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) said put it on.

His first daytime hearing is entirely devoted to exposing what Trump was told about his prospects for victory and his claims of voter fraud and how he opposed legal methods of challenging election results.

That point is key to showing Trump’s guilt and would show that his actions — from pressuring the Justice Department to investigate, to rallying his base over election security concerns, to tying up state and federal officials to help in his case, they were taken knowing his electoral claims were fraudulent.

It’s a point that would likely be of interest to the Justice Department as well, should they consider bringing charges against the former president.

“The former president did not have the numbers to win the election; they told him that he chose to declare victory anyway. The claims of fraud that the former president espoused were baseless. They told him that over and over again, and he continued to repeat those claims anyway,” the committee aide said.

The committee devoted much of its energy to this issue at its first hearing. They played video clips of remarks with another Trump campaign staffer saying that shortly after the election Trump had been told “in pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose.”

And it twice showed clips of former Attorney General Bill Barr making the same point, saying there was “absolutely zero basis for the allegations” and that Trump’s claims were “all nonsense.”

The committee even showed her daughter Ivanka Trump referring to Barr when she said, “I accepted what she was saying.”

The combination of witnesses shows that the committee wants to track allegations of voter fraud in the campaign, through the conservative media and even through his fundraising, and the impact it had at the state and court levels. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) is expected to play a leading role in reviewing the evidence.

The committee subpoenaed Stepien in November, noting his involvement in “Stop the Steal” rallies organized on behalf of Trump, including promoting claims about problems with voting machines “despite a internal memory in which campaign staff determined that such claims were false.”

He also led a campaign tasked with “asking states to delay or deny certification of electoral votes and submitting multiple electoral vote lists to the United States Congress,” the committee said in November.

Stepien told multiple media outlets that he will appear before the panel under subpoena. The committee aide declined to answer questions Sunday about how cooperative Stepien will be as a witness.

However, witnesses often appear before the committees or their investigators under a “friendly subpoena,” and Stepien has not filed a lawsuit challenging the committee’s request that he testify.

Stepien is also a campaign adviser to Harriet Hageman, a Trump-backed challenger to Cheney in the Wyoming Republican primary.

In the month after the 2020 election, Pak found himself at the intersection of Trump’s focus on both “finding” additional votes in Georgia and replacing his leadership at the DOJ if his alleged fraud there was not investigated.

“Pak’s office had investigated and debunked multiple allegations of voter fraud in Georgia,” a Senate Judiciary Committee Review of Trump’s efforts at the Justice Department ended last October.

That included accusations from Trump’s attorney, Rudy Guliani, that officials there absconded with a suitcase of ballots without the supervision of Republican election observers.

“In reality, the ‘suitcase’ was a secure ballot container, and the ballots were counted in the presence of bipartisan election observers,” the Senate panel wrote in its report.

But as Trump became increasingly obsessed with securing action in Georgia, he mentioned Pak, even after being dissuaded from firing his own Justice Department leadership in favor of someone who would launch an investigation there.

“Atlanta, Atlanta, no surprise there. They found nothing. It’s not surprising because we have a never Trump as a federal prosecutor,” Trump reportedly said.

Pak abruptly resigned on January 5, despite plans to stay on until inauguration day.

Ginsberg, a longtime election attorney on behalf of Republicans, sounded the alarm over claims of voter fraud that Trump began airing ahead of Election Day.

“The truth is that during all those years the Republicans only found isolated incidents of fraud. The proof of systematic fraud has become the Loch Ness Monster of the Republican Party. People have spent a long time looking for it, but it doesn’t exist,” Ginsberg wrote in an op-ed just days before the 2020 election, warning that the GOP “is destroying itself at Trump’s altar.”

“While facing defeat, Trump has dedicated his campaign and the Republican Party to this myth of voter fraud. Short of being able to articulate a convincing plan for a second term or find an attack on Joe Biden that sticks, depriving enough voters has become key to his re-election strategy. Maybe this was the plan all along,” Ginsberg added.

Schmidt, a former Philadelphia city commissioner, also saw firsthand the impact of Trump’s voter fraud claims. He received death threats after the election due to his role on the city’s electoral board, even after comments that “bad actors” were “lying” about the vote tabulation process.

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