The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol turns its attention Tuesday to the campaign to pressure state-level officials to overturn the 2020 election results.
The hearing will focus in particular on then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results in Arizona and in Georgia – where Trump infamously asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes he needed to win.
Committee aides said the hearing will also demonstrate how Trump and his allies concocted a scheme to submit fake slates of electors.
Trump’s pressure campaign against state officials played out in numerous key states where he had lost to Joe Biden. The committee plans to focus on the actions Trump took to try to overturn the election as well as the roles that his attorney Rudy Giuliani and then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows played.
CNN has previously reported on text messages that Meadows exchanged between the election and Biden’s inauguration where he worked to coordinate Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
The aides said the committee intended to show that the then-President had been warned the actions he was taking falsely claiming election fraud and pressuring state and local officials risked violence but that he had done so anyway.
Committee aides said the witnesses testifying in person on Tuesday from Arizona and Georgia will be able to speak to the pressure campaign that came from the White House, as well as the backlash they received from Trump’s supporters.
The witnesses from Georgia include Raffensperger and his chief operating officer, Gabe Sterling, both of whom faced relentless attacks from Trump after certifying the state’s election. Fulton County election worker Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, who was falsely accused by Trump of ballot fraud, will also testify about the backlash she faced.
Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Republican, will testify about the pressure he received from Trump and Giuliani, according to committee aides.
The committee plans to show video testimony of depositions from officials in other states where Trump and his allies pressured state-level officials to try to block Biden’s election win.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee member who will lead Tuesday’s hearing, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that the hearing would show how Meadows had played an “intimate role” in the efforts to pressure Georgia state legislators and election officials.
The California Democrat said the committee would release new text messages showing that Meadows had wanted to send autographed “Make America Great Again” hats to those conducting Georgia’s post-election audit.
Committee aides said the hearing would “demonstrate his involvement” in Georgia in the run-up to January 6.
Meadows reached out multiple times to Raffensperger after the 2020 election, according to text messages obtained by CNN, and he participated in Trump’s January 2021 call where the former President asked Raffensperger to “find” the votes the then-President needed to win.
While that call was going on, Meadows was texting with the deputy secretary of state, who urged him to end the call that now stands at the center of Fulton County’s investigation into whether any of the actions Trump or his allies took related to Georgia’s election were criminal.
The witnesses will be able to testify firsthand on Tuesday about the impact of Trump’s pressure campaign and false claims about the election – as they all were subjected to attacks and threats.
Aides said that Bowers, the Arizona secretary of state, will be able to testify about the “campaign of harassment” he was subjected to in the run-up to January 6 and the months that followed.
Raffensperger and Sterling were attacked by Trump and his allies for certifying Georgia’s election. Sterling warned in a December 2020 news conference that “it’s all gone too far” after local election officials had been subjected to threats and harassment.
Moss, who was a Fulton County election worker in 2020, will testify how her mother’s and her lives were upended and they were forced to go into hiding after Moss was accused by Trump of carrying out a fake ballot scheme, according to committee aides. She and another election worker sued Giuliani last year.
In her written testimony provided on Monday, Moss said the false stories accusing her of taking part in voter fraud had led to her receiving death threats.
Raffensperger is testifying after he easily defeated GOP Rep. Jody Hice in a Trump-backed primary challenge last month.
Trump had made unseating Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp among his top priorities after the Georgia GOP officials refuted his false claims of fraud in the state’s 2020 election and certified the election for Biden. But Kemp and Raffensperger easily won their races, marking a rare case where Trump has been defeated in his efforts to oust Republicans who crossed him after the election.
Interestingly, Georgia is holding a runoff primary election on Tuesday, an election that Raffensperger and Sterling are ostensibly in charge of running at the same time they are testifying before the House select committee.
In addition to the pressure campaign on state officials, the select committee plans to focus Tuesday’s hearing on the effort to put forward slates of pro-Trump electors, which has emerged as a core tenet of the broader plan to overturn the 2020 election.
CNN previously reported that Trump campaign officials had overseen efforts to put forward illegitimate electors in seven swing states Trump lost. The idea was that when Congress met to certify the election on January 6, the states would have dueling slates of electors so they wouldn’t be automatically awarded to Biden.
Federal prosecutors are reviewing the fake Electoral College certifications created by Trump allies that falsely declared him the winner of seven states that he lost in 2020. The fake certificates were sent to the National Archives in the weeks after the election and had no impact on the electoral outcome.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in Georgia, which is conducting the separate criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, is looking into the attempt to put forward fake slates of electors as part of its probe.
Last week, the committee focused on the pressure campaign that then-Vice President Mike Pence had faced from Trump and his allies in the days leading up to January 6. Tuesday’s hearing will turn back the clock to scrutinize what happened in the states – before Trump’s attention focused on Pence.
The committee’s out-of-order hearings are likely due to scheduling issues more than anything else. Last week, for instance, the committee had initially planned to hold its hearing on the Justice Department the day before the Pence hearing. Now that hearing is expected this Thursday.
The switching around means the committee is focusing its hearings on the various themes in the campaign to overturn the election, rather than telling a natural chronological story of the scheme that built up to what happened on January 6.
Still, the final two hearings will focus on the day of the Capitol insurrection: first on the extremists who attacked the Capitol and then on the response – or lack thereof – from Trump inside the White House.