‘I will not break my oath’
Among the key witnesses today was Arizona state house speaker Rusty Bowers, a conservative Republican who supported Trump’s reelection bid in 2020, but refused to bow to attempts by Trump and his disgraced lawyer Rudy Giuliani to get him to use the Arizona state legislature to decertify Biden’s victory there.
“I did not want to be used as a pawn,” he told the panel, emotionally detailing how his refusal to do what Trump and Giuliani wanted meant he and his family were publicly harassed while his daughter was seriously ill. He said trucks drove through his neighborhood calling him a paedophile over loudspeakers and that his neighbors had also been threatened with a gun.
Bowers said he repeatedly asked Trump’s attorneys to show evidence of widespread fraud, but they never provided any.
“You are asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath,” Bowers said he told them. He recalled John Eastman, a chief architect of Trump’s plan to create slates of fake electors, telling him to “just do it and let the courts sort it out”.
Giuliani also pushed Bowers to find electoral fraud, and would not provide the Arizona speaker with any proof.
“My recollection, he said, ‘We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence,’” Bowers told committee.
“And I don’t know if that was a gaffe or maybe he didn’t think through what he said, but both myself and others in my group … both remember that specifically, and afterwards we kind of laughed about it.”
‘We didn’t have any votes to find’
Also taking the stand was Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – who outlined Trump’s now infamous phone call of January 2 2021, where the then-president asked Raffensperger to help him “find 11,780 votes” to win Georgia.
“What I knew is that we didn’t have any votes to find,” he said.
After refusing, Raffensperger told the committee, “my email and my cell phone was doxxed, so I was getting texts from all over the country and then eventually, my wife started getting texts that typically came in a sexualised form, which were disgusting”.
‘The campaign did take the lead’
Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, testified that she was called directly by Trump and asked to help gather “contingent electors” in states where Trump was challenging the votes.
“In this effort, what did the President say when he called you?” an investigator with the committee asked McDaniel, according to video of her testimony played during the hearing.“Essentially, he turned the call over to [conservative lawyer John] Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing change the result of any dates,” McDaniel said. “I think more just helping them reach out and assemble them but …. my understanding is the campaign did take the lead and we just were helping them in that role”.
‘It’s turned my life upside down’
Perhaps the most powerful testimony came from former Georgia election worker Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, who recounted how she and her family faced death threats, racist taunts and were forced into hiding after Trump accused her and her mother, Ruby Freeman, of rigging the election for Joe Biden with “suitcases of ballots” on election night.
The bogus claims were pushed on a right-wing website called The Gateway Pundit, which is now being sued.
Moss and her mother were also featured in a video that Trump and Guiliani claimed was “a smoking gun”, however state and federal investigators who reviewed the video found the pair did nothing improper.
Asked by the committee how being targeted by Trump affected her life, she replied: “It’s turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don’t transfer calls. I don’t want anyone knowing my name… I’ve gained about 60 pounds. I don’t do nothing any more, I don’t want to go anywhere, and second guess everything that I do. This has affected my life in a major way. Every way – because of lies.”
Today’s hearing was the fourth in seven expected public hearings into the January 6 Capitol attacks, which last year left several people dead and about 150 police officers injured.
The witnesses so far have been a roll-call of people in the former president’s orbit who were either worried about what was happening or were seemingly fueling the conspiracy.
Among the star witnesses is former attorney-general Bill Barr, who tested that he thought Trump’s claims of election fraud were “bullshit”, Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien and family members Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Today’s hearing laid out in detail how Trump was repeatedly told his pressure campaign could result in violence against local poll workers and their families, yet he continued to push his theory that the election was rigged and lashed out publicly and privately at Republicans who disagreed.
Among them was Raffensperger’s deputy Gabe Sterling, who also appeared today. He was the election official who helped manage the recount of the votes in Georgia and ultimately found there was no widespread fraud.
Sterling became a well-known figure in the aftermath of the 2020 election for his regular press conferences, one of which begged Trump to end the campaign to overturn the state’s election results and “stop inspiring people to commit acts of violence”.
“It’s all gone too far,” he said on December 1. “All of it.”
Today, Sterling tested that particular news conference was prompted by a death threat he viewed on Twitter that featured a GIF of a noose against a poll worker.
“That particular Tweet, for lack of a better word, was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Sterling said. “It had a young man’s name… and said: you committed treason; may God have mercy on your soul, with a slowly twisting gifts of a noose. I just lost it.”
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