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    January 6 committee focuses on phone calls among Trump’s children and aides

    January 6 committee focuses on phone calls among Trump’s children and aidesFootage captured by documentary film-maker understood to show ex-president’s children privately discussing election strategies The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack is closely focused on phone calls and conversations among Donald Trump’s children and top aides captured by a documentary film-maker weeks before the 2020 election, say sources familiar with the matter.The calls among Trump’s children and top aides took place at an invitation-only event at the Trump International hotel in Washington that took place the night of the first presidential debate on 29 September 2020, the sources said.The select committee is interested in the calls, the sources said, since the footage is understood to show the former president’s children, including Donald Jr and Eric Trump, privately discussing strategies about the election at a crucial time in the presidential campaign.‘Watergate for streaming era’: how the January 6 panel created gripping hearingsRead moreHouse investigators first learned about the event, hosted by the Trump campaign, and the existence of the footage through British film-maker Alex Holder, who testified about what he and his crew recorded during a two-hour interview last week, the sources said.The film-maker testified that he had recorded around seven hours of one-to-one interviews with Trump, then-vice president Mike Pence, Trump’s adult children and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the sources said, as well as around 110 hours of footage from the campaign.But one part of Holder’s testimony that particularly piqued the interest of the members of the select committee and chief investigative counsel Tim Heaphy was when he disclosed that he had managed to record discussions at the 29 September event.The select committee is closely focused on the footage of the event – in addition to the content of the one-on-one interviews with Trump and Ivanka – because the discussions about strategies mirror similar conversations at that time by top Trump advisors.On the night of the first presidential debate, Trump’s top former strategist Steve Bannon said in an interview with The Circus on Showtime that the outcome of the election would be decided at the state level and eventually at the congressional certification on January 6.“They’re going to try and overturn this election with uncertified votes,” Bannon said. Asked how he expects the election to end, Bannon said: “Right before noon on the 20th, in a vote in the House, Trump will win the presidency.”The select committee believes that ideas such as Bannon’s were communicated to advisers to Donald Jr and his fiancee, Kimberly Guilfoyle, even before the 2020 election had taken place, the sources said – leading House investigators to want to review the Trump hotel footage.What appears to interest the panel is whether Trump and his children had planned to somehow stop the certification of the election on January 6 – a potential violation of federal law – and to force a contingent election if Trump lost as early as September.The event was not open to the public, Holder is said to have testified, and the documentary film-maker was waved into the Trump hotel by Eric Trump. At some point after Holder caught the calls on tape, he is said to have been asked to leave by Donald Jr.Among the conversations captured on film was Eric Trump on the phone to an unidentified person saying, according to one source familiar: “Hopefully you’re voting in Florida as opposed to the other state you’ve mentioned.”January 6 hearings: if Republicans did nothing wrong, why were pardons sought?Read moreThe phone call – a clip of which was reviewed by the Guardian – was one of several by some of the people closest to Trump that Holder memorialized in his film, titled Unprecedented, which is due to be released in a three-part series later this year on Discovery+.Holder also testified to the select committee, the sources said, about the content of the interviews. Holder interviewed Trump in early December 2020 at the White House, and then twice a few months after the Capitol attack both at Mar-a-Lago and his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey.The select committee found Holder’s testimony and material more explosive than they had expected, the sources said. Holder, for instance, showed the panel a discrepancy between Ivanka Trump’s testimony to the panel and Holder’s camera.In her interview in December 2020, the New York Times earlier reported, Ivanka said her father should “continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted” because people were questioning “the sanctity of our elections”.That interview was recorded nine days after former attorney general William Barr told Trump there was no evidence of election fraud. But in her interview with the select committee, Ivanka said she had “accepted” what Barr had said.TopicsJanuary 6 hearingsUS Capitol attackUS politicsDonald TrumpRepublicansDonald Trump JrSteve BannonnewsReuse this content More

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    January 6 panel to focus on Trump’s relentless pressure on justice department

    January 6 panel to focus on Trump’s relentless pressure on justice departmentThe ex-president pushed the department to more aggressively investigate debunked claims of fraud with threats Donald Trump pressured top justice department officials to falsely declare that the 2020 election was corrupt and launch investigations into discredited claims of fraud as part of an effort to return him to office, the House January 6 select committee will say on Thursday.The panel investigating the Capitol attack is expected at its fifth hearing to focus on how Trump abused the power of the presidency to twist the justice department into endorsing false election claims – and potentially how the Republican congressman Scott Perry sought a pardon for his involvement.Trump campaign knew ‘fake electors’ scheme was fraudulent, panel arguesRead moreThe finer details of the hearing were outlined to the Guardian by two sources close to the inquiry who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal details ahead of the hearing. They cautioned that the details might still change.Among the points the select committee is expected to cover include how Trump pursued a relentless campaign against the leadership of the justice department to more aggressively investigate debunked claims of fraud, and threatened to fire them when they refused.The foundation of that effort, extraordinary even by the standards of the Trump presidency, culminated in a 3 January 2021 meeting at the White House where Trump almost appointed a loyalist as acting attorney general until the leadership warned of en masse resignations.At that contentious meeting, Trump was about to move ahead with a plot to replace the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, with Jeffrey Clark, a justice department official sympathetic to claims of election fraud.The former president only relented when he was told by Rosen that the justice department leadership would resign – and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, said he and his deputy, Pat Philbin, would also quit if Trump followed through.Trump’s proposed plan amounted to a “murder-suicide pact”, Cipollone is understood to have said, according to a participant at the meeting who testified to the Senate judiciary committee that issued an interim report last year.The select committee is also expected to examine the fraught weeks leading up to that moment, and the growing fear inside the justice department that Trump might drag them in to overturn the election results.Perry introduced Clark to Trump, the interim report found. The panel is expected to shed new light on that at the hearing led by Congressman Adam Kinzinger, as well as how Perry sought a presidential pardon days after 6 January.The hearing is expected to be the select committee’s final one in June – there will be at least two more hearings next month but probably not before 12 July when the House returns from recess – and will probably build on the interim report.In doing so, the select committee is likely to relive other key moments: a 27 December 2020 call in which Trump pressured Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, to declare the election corrupt; Trump’s push to get Clark to get Rosen to open investigations into fraud.Rosen and Donoghue will testify at the hearing, as will Steven Engel, the then assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, the select committee has said. Clark invoked his fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination in a closed-door deposition.“Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me” and congressional allies including the Republican congressman Scott Perry, Trump said on the call, according to notes taken by Rosen.The former president also spoke multiple times with Clark about pushing his superiors to send Georgia officials a letter that falsely claimed the justice department had identified “significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election”.When Rosen and Donoghue refused, the interim report found, Trump considered firing them. On 2 January 2021, Trump appeared to coerce Rosen to send the letter, first suggesting he could dismiss Rosen, and then saying he would not fire Rosen as long as he sent the letter.TopicsJanuary 6 hearingsDonald TrumpUS elections 2020US politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    A few good Republicans stopped Trump – but his threat to democracy isn’t over

    A few good Republicans stopped Trump – but his threat to democracy isn’t over Three Republicans testified how they resisted a relentless campaign by Trump and his allies to overturn Biden’s 2020 win Rusty Bowers, the speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, wanted Donald Trump to win the 2020 election. He worked hard to elect him and, when the time came, cast his ballot for the president.What he wasn’t willing to do was cheat.In searing and at turns emotional testimony, Bowers, a rock-ribbed conservative from battleground Arizona, recounted for the House select committee investigating the January 6 assault how he resisted a relentless campaign by the then president of the United States and his allies to do just that.“You are asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath,” Bowers said he responded, when pressured repeatedly by Trump and his allies to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.Bowers comments helped reveal how much of a threat to American democracy Trump’s attempt to block Joe Biden’s win was – and how it was defeated by the actions of officials like Bowers. But, amid a continuing attempt by Trump and his Republican allies to peddle lies and control election races in 2024 battleground states, it also revealed the threat to the US is not over.“The president’s lie was and is a dangerous cancer on the body politic,” said California congressman Adam Schiff, who led the hearing. “If you can convince Americans that they cannot trust their own elections, that anytime they lose, it is somehow illegitimate, then what is left but violence to determine who should govern.”Trump lost the state of Arizona by less than 11,000 votes – votes that were legally cast and fairly counted, Bowers said. But Trump refused to accept his loss and in his denial concocted a plot to try to stop the state from certifying the election results based on groundless conspiracies that Bowers likened to a “tragic parody”.In perhaps his most damning disclosure, Bowers recalled a conversation in which Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani told him: “We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence.”Bowers said the comment was so absurd that he and his staff wondered if it was a “gaffe” and laughed about it. But he found little reason for levity during Tuesday’s hearing.Bowers was joined in the cavernous Cannon Caucus Room by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, and his deputy, Gabe Sterling, also a Republican, who testified about the pressure Trump and his legal team put on elections officials in their state.In a phone call after the November election, Trump asked Raffensperger to “find 11,780” votes – just enough to flip Biden’s election victory in the state.02:07Their refusal to obey Trump’s demands was met with a barrage of online harassment and intimidation. Raffensperger said all of his personal information was made public. His wife began receiving sexually explicit threats and someone broke into the home of his daughter-in-law, a widow with two children. Bowers at the time was caring for his dying daughter who he said was troubled by the menacing crowd that gathered outside his home,Pelting taunts and threats. During the hearing, Bowers read a passage from his journal.“It is painful to have friends who have been such a help to me turn on me with such rancor,” he wrote in December. “I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to.”Sterling became a standout figure when he called on Trump to stop riling up his supporters during a televised press conference held in the tumultuous post-election period while Georgia carried out a series. “Death threats, physical threats, intimidation – it’s too much, it’s not right,” Sterling said in his remarks, parts of which the committee showed during the hearing. He told his committee he “lost it” that day after being told that a young election contractor with Dominion Systems was receiving death threats from purveyors of the QAnon conspiracy theory.“I tend to turn red from here up when that happens. And that happened at that time,” he said.Lives and livelihoods were disrupted and destroyed as a result of Trump’s lies, the committee heard. Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testified on Tuesday that she no longer feels safe, secure or confident since becoming the subject of one of Trump’s most pernicious fraud claims – one involving suitcases that both federal and state officials said was baseless. Tuesday’s witnesses were all that stood between what the chairman of the committee, congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, described as a “close call” and a “catastrophe” for American democracy during its fourth public hearing. It also revealed new details in the brazen, if ill-conceived, scheme to put forward “fake” slates of electors in seven states as part of a last-gasp attempt to keep Trump in power.Again and again the committee has sought to show that the violent insurrection on 6 January, horrible as it was, isn’t the whole story. Nor is it the end of the story. It’s part of a coordinated and continuing plot by the former president and his allies to remain in power by any means possible.“Focus on the evidence the committee will present. Don’t be distracted by politics,” the committee’s vice-chair, Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, urged viewers. “This is serious. We cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.”Trump’s “Big Lie,” the committee said, was a “dangerous precursor” to the deadly insurrection on 6 January. But it remains an urgent threat to democracy.Trump continues to claim that he won the 2020 election and polls suggest millions of Republicans believe him. Embracing the lie has become a requisite for his endorsement, which has delivered mixed results in Republican primaries.In Georgia, Raffensperger overcame a Trump-backed challenger to win re-election as the state’s attorney general. But elsewhere, election deniers are winning primaries in an attempt to seize control of elections administration in key states across the country. In Pennsylvania, where the governor appoints the secretary of state, Republicans chose a nominee who helped organize the rally that preceded the attack on 6 January and has openly mused about fraud in future elections.And across the country, election workers like Moss are being driven out by threats of violence and intimidation. In some instances, election watchdogs have warned, they are being replaced by partisans and conspiracy theorists.Look no further than New Mexico, Thompson said on Tuesday, where a Republican commission refused to certify the results of the state’s primary election, citing unfounded claims about the security of the voting machines. Ultimately the commission bowed to a supreme court order and certified the election but the committee said it was a blinking red warning sign ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections.“The system held, but barely,” Schiff said. “And the question remains, will it hold again.”TopicsJanuary 6 hearingsUS Capitol attackDonald TrumpUS elections 2020US politicsanalysisReuse this content More

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    ‘There’s nowhere I feel safe’: Georgia elections workers describe how Trump upended their lives

    ‘There’s nowhere I feel safe’: Georgia elections workers describe how Trump upended their livesShaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, testified how Trump and his allies fueled harassment and racist threats In powerful and emotional testimony about the sinister results of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, a mother and daughter who were Georgia elections workers described how Trump and his allies upended their lives, fueling harassment and racist threats by claiming they were involved in voter fraud.Giuliani told Arizona official ‘We just don’t have the evidence’ of voter fraudRead moreTestifying to the January 6 committee in Washington, Shaye Moss said she received “a lot of threats. Wishing death upon me. Telling me that I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’”That was a reference to lynching, the violent extra-judicial fate of thousands of Black men in the American south.Moss also said her grandmother’s home had been threatened by Trump supporters seeking to make “citizen’s arrests” of the two poll workers.No Democratic presidential candidate had won Georgia since 1992 but Joe Biden beat Trump by just under 12,000 votes, a result confirmed by recounts.Tuesday’s hearing detailed Trump’s attempts to overturn that result via pressure on Republican state officials and vilification of Moss and her mother over video supposedly showing them engaged in voter fraud, a claim swiftly debunked.Moss’s mother attended the hearing. In taped testimony, she said: “My name is Ruby Freeman. I’ve always believed it when God says that he’ll make your name great. But this is not the way it was supposed to be.”“For my entire professional life, I was Lady Ruby. My community in Georgia, where I was born and lived my whole life, knew me as Lady Ruby. I built my own business around that name: Ruby’s Unique Treasures. A pop-up shop catering to ladies with unique fashions.”“I wore a shirt that proudly proclaimed that I was and I am Lady Ruby. I had that shirt in every color. I wore that shirt on election day 2020. I haven’t worn it since and I’ll never wear it again.“I won’t even introduce myself by my name anymore. I get nervous when I bump into someone I know in the grocery store who says my name. I’m worried about people listening. I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I’m always concerned of who’s around me.“I’ve lost my name and I’ve lost my reputation. I’ve lost my sense of security, all because a group of people starting with [Trump] and his ally Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye, to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.”Freeman also said: “There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?“The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one. And he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen who stood up to help Fulton county run an election in the middle of the pandemic.”Freeman said she had been forced to leave home for two months.Moss described threats also made to her grandmother.“That woman is my everything,” she said. “I’ve never even heard or seen her cry, ever in my life. And she called me screaming at the top of her lungs, like ‘Shaye, Shaye, oh my gosh, Shaye’, freaking me out, saying that people were at her home.”“And they knocked on the door and of course she opened it, seeing who was there, who it was, and they just started pushing their way through, claiming they were coming in to make a citizen’s arrest. They needed to find me and my mom, they knew we were there.“And [my grandmother] was just screaming and didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t there so I just felt so helpless and so horrible for her. And she just screamed and I called her to close the door. Don’t open the door for anyone.”Moss was asked how her own life had been affected.She said: “My life was turned upside down. I no longer give out my business card. Don’t want anyone knowing my name. Don’t want to go anywhere with my mom because she might yell my name out over the grocery aisle or something. I don’t go to the grocery store anymore.“I haven’t been anywhere. I’ve gained about 60lb. I don’t want to go anywhere, I second-guess everything that I do. It’s affected my life in a major way, every way.“All because of lies.”TopicsJanuary 6 hearingsUS elections 2020US politicsGeorgiaRepublicansDonald TrumpRudy GiulianinewsReuse this content More

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    ‘There’s nowhere I feel safe’: Georgia election workers on how Trump upended their lives

    ‘There’s nowhere I feel safe’: Georgia election workers on how Trump upended their livesShaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, testified how Trump and his allies fueled harassment and racist threats In powerful and emotional testimony about the sinister results of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, a mother and daughter who were Georgia elections workers described how Trump and his allies upended their lives, fueling harassment and racist threats by claiming they were involved in voter fraud.Giuliani told Arizona official ‘We just don’t have the evidence’ of voter fraudRead moreTestifying to the January 6 committee in Washington, Shaye Moss said she received “a lot of threats. Wishing death upon me. Telling me that I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’”That was a reference to lynching, the violent extra-judicial fate of thousands of Black men in the American south.Moss also said her grandmother’s home had been threatened by Trump supporters seeking to make “citizen’s arrests” of the two poll workers.No Democratic presidential candidate had won Georgia since 1992 but Joe Biden beat Trump by just under 12,000 votes, a result confirmed by recounts.Tuesday’s hearing detailed Trump’s attempts to overturn that result via pressure on Republican state officials and vilification of Moss and her mother over video supposedly showing them engaged in voter fraud, a claim swiftly debunked.Moss’s mother attended the hearing. In taped testimony, she said: “My name is Ruby Freeman. I’ve always believed it when God says that he’ll make your name great. But this is not the way it was supposed to be.”“For my entire professional life, I was Lady Ruby. My community in Georgia, where I was born and lived my whole life, knew me as Lady Ruby. I built my own business around that name: Ruby’s Unique Treasures. A pop-up shop catering to ladies with unique fashions.”“I wore a shirt that proudly proclaimed that I was and I am Lady Ruby. I had that shirt in every color. I wore that shirt on election day 2020. I haven’t worn it since and I’ll never wear it again.“I won’t even introduce myself by my name anymore. I get nervous when I bump into someone I know in the grocery store who says my name. I’m worried about people listening. I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I’m always concerned of who’s around me.“I’ve lost my name and I’ve lost my reputation. I’ve lost my sense of security, all because a group of people starting with [Trump] and his ally Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye, to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.”Freeman also said: “There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?“The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one. And he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen who stood up to help Fulton county run an election in the middle of the pandemic.”Freeman said she had been forced to leave home for two months.Moss described threats also made to her grandmother.“That woman is my everything,” she said. “I’ve never even heard or seen her cry, ever in my life. And she called me screaming at the top of her lungs, like ‘Shaye, Shaye, oh my gosh, Shaye’, freaking me out, saying that people were at her home.”“And they knocked on the door and of course she opened it, seeing who was there, who it was, and they just started pushing their way through, claiming they were coming in to make a citizen’s arrest. They needed to find me and my mom, they knew we were there.“And [my grandmother] was just screaming and didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t there so I just felt so helpless and so horrible for her. And she just screamed and I called her to close the door. Don’t open the door for anyone.”Moss was asked how her own life had been affected.She said: “My life was turned upside down. I no longer give out my business card. Don’t want anyone knowing my name. Don’t want to go anywhere with my mom because she might yell my name out over the grocery aisle or something. I don’t go to the grocery store anymore.“I haven’t been anywhere. I’ve gained about 60lb. I don’t want to go anywhere, I second-guess everything that I do. It’s affected my life in a major way, every way.“All because of lies.”TopicsJanuary 6 hearingsUS elections 2020US politicsGeorgiaRepublicansDonald TrumpRudy GiulianinewsReuse this content More

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    Giuliani told Arizona official ‘We just don’t have the evidence’ of voter fraud

    Giuliani told Arizona official ‘We just don’t have the evidence’ of voter fraudFormer Trump lawyer acknowledged his efforts to overturn the election were based on mere ‘theories’, officials recall Attempting to overturn election results in service of Donald Trump’s lie about voter fraud in his defeat by Joe Biden, the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani told an Arizona official: “We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence.”January 6 hearings: state officials to testify about pressure from Trump to discredit electionRead moreThe Republican speaker of the Arizona house, Rusty Bowers, told the January 6 committee, “I don’t know if that was a gaffe. Or maybe he didn’t think through what he said. But both myself and … my counsel remember that specifically.”For the committee, staging a fourth public hearing, the California Democrat Adam Schiff asked: “He wanted you to have the legislature dismiss the Biden electors and replace them with Trump electors on the basis of these theories of fraud?”Bowers said: “He did not say in those exact words, but he did say that under Arizona law, according to what he understood, that would be allowed and that we needed to come into session to take care of that.”This, Bowers said, “initiated a discussion about … what I can legally and not legally do. I can’t go into session in Arizona unilaterally or on my sole prerogative.”In extensive questioning of his witness, Schiff asked if anyone at any time provided to Bowers “evidence of election fraud sufficient to affect the outcome of the presidential election in Arizona”.Bowers said, “No one provided me ever such evidence.”Biden won Arizona by about 10,000 votes, a margin slightly increased after a controversial review pursued by state Republicans.Bowers told the hearing that Giuliani, other Trump aides and the 45th president himself made him think of The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, a classic novel of mob incompetence by the late New York journalist Jimmy Breslin.“This is a tragic parody,” he said.Bowers described harassment he and his family suffered. Another witness, Shaye Moss, a former Georgia elections worker, described threats and harassment dealt to her, her mother and her grandmother.Schiff said: “Your proud service as an election worker took a dramatic turn on the day that Rudy Giuliani publicised video of you and your mother counting ballots on election night.”Schiff played footage from a Georgia state senate hearing in which Giuliani said Moss and her mother were “quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they were vials of heroin or cocaine”.Giuliani claimed it was “obvious to anyone who’s a criminal investigator or prosecutor, they are engaged in surreptitious illegal activity”, and said the women’s places of work and homes “should have been searched for evidence” of voter fraud.What Giuliani said was a “USB port”, Moss said, was in fact “a ginger mint”.TopicsJanuary 6 hearingsUS elections 2020Rudy GiulianiDonald TrumpUS politicsRepublicansArizonanewsReuse this content More

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    Third panel hearing will show Trump’s pressure on Pence to overturn election

    Third panel hearing will show Trump’s pressure on Pence to overturn electionEx-president leaned on then vice-president to reject certified electors despite being told scheme was unlawful The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack intends to outline at its third hearing on Thursday how Donald Trump corruptly pressured then vice-president Mike Pence to reject the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election and directly contributed to the insurrection.The panel will first examine the genesis of Trump’s pressure campaign on Pence to adopt an unconstitutional and unlawful plan to reject certified electors from certain states at the congressional certification in an attempt to give Trump a second presidential term.The select committee then intends to show how that theory – advanced by external Trump legal adviser John Eastman – was rejected by Pence, his lawyers and the White House counsel’s office, who universally told the former president that the entire scheme was unlawful.Trump’s raising of $250m for fund that ‘did not exist’ suggests possible fraudRead moreBut Trump deliberately ignored his top White House advisers to go down that path, the panel will show. And, the panel contends, in escalating his campaign to obstruct Biden’s certification through the morning of 6 January 2021, Trump contributed to the violence of the Capitol attack.The select committee will additionally show that Trump’s false public remarks about Pence having the power to refuse to count votes for Biden – Pence had no such power – directly put the vice-president’s life in danger as the mob chanted “hang Mike Pence”.Trump’s involvement in the Pence strategy makes the former president liable for the crimes of obstructing an official proceeding and conspiring to defraud the United States, the panel has argued. A federal judge has agreed, calling it “a coup in search of a legal theory”.The select committee previewed details on the third hearing on a call with reporters. The panel said the hearing would be led by congressman Pete Aguilar, with witness questioning done by former US attorney John Wood, who was appointed senior investigative counsel by vice-chairperson Liz Cheney.The select committee will hear from Pence’s former counsel Greg Jacob as well as retired former US appellate court judge J Michael Luttig over the course of the hearing, which is expected to last around two hours, according to a source familiar with its planning.The select committee is likely to focus heavily on the role played by Eastman, who as early as 18 November 2020 was writing memos under the guise of the “Trump legal team” and proposing a brazen plan to send Trump slates of electors to Congress for certification.But Eastman’s plan to have Pence see that there were “duelling” slates of electors and therefore refuse to certify either Biden or Trump slates – which would result in Trump’s receiving more electoral college votes – relied on states certifying the Trump slates.On 13 December 2020, the so-called Trump legal team was circulating a “President of the Senate” strategy that referred to Pence taking such action on 6 January 2021, a clear violation of the law governing the certification, according to emails released in court filings.Crucially, however, the state legislatures had still not met by that date to certify an alternate Trump slate of electors, which Eastman showed in emails that he knew needed to happen in order for his delicate scheme to have any chance of success.Eastman also undermined the scheme when he admitted in emails on 19 December 2020, released in court filings, that “unless those electors get a certification from their State Legislators”, the Trump slates would be “dead on arrival in Congress”.The emails showed Eastman knew the plan rested on states certifying Trump slates. But when he presented a memo to Pence in January 2021 attesting to the existence of Trump slates – that did not actually exist – he revealed corrupt intent to obstruct proceedings on 6 January 2021, the panel believes.No state legislatures ultimately certified an alternate slate of electors for Trump. The Trump White House appears to have participated in a related scheme to send fake Trump slates to Congress, though those were not introduced at the certification on the day of the attack.But the select committee intends to reveal at the hearing that Pence’s counsel, Jacob, and others including Luttig, all informed the then-vice-president that even if the states had transmitted alternate slates of electors, the plan was unlawful from the start.The Trump White House counsel separately told Trump that Eastman’s plan violated the law, Cassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, has also testified to the panel.Yet Trump and Eastman proceeded with the plan anyway. At the Save America rally on 6 January 2021, Trump told his supporters that he hoped Pence would do the “right thing” and just refuse to certify Biden’s election win, knowing full well by then that it was unlawful.The select committee is likely to show, finally, that Eastman himself knew the strategy was unlawful. In an email he sent to Jacob as the Trump mob stormed the Capitol, he admitted the scheme violated the law, but then he said Pence could surely violate the law a little more.Eastman said in the email that because Biden’s certification had been temporarily interrupted by the Capitol attack, Congress had violated the law governing the process. So Pence should have no problem committing “one more minor violation and adjourn for 10 days”, he said.TopicsJan 6 hearingsUS Capitol attackDonald TrumpMike PenceTrump administrationUS elections 2020House of RepresentativesReuse this content More

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    Ginni Thomas pressed 29 lawmakers in bid to overturn Trump loss, emails show

    Ginni Thomas pressed 29 lawmakers in bid to overturn Trump loss, emails showWife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas accused of ‘undermining democracy’ after Washington Post revelation Ginni Thomas, the wife of the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, was accused of “undermining democracy” after it emerged that she emailed 29 Republican lawmakers in Arizona in her effort to overturn Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.As America watched Capitol attack testimony, Fox News gave an alternate realityRead moreThe Washington Post had previously reported that Ginni Thomas sent emails pressuring two Arizona Republicans to reject Biden’s win and choose their own electors.On Friday, the paper said Ginni Thomas emailed 29 individuals.Thomas’s involvement in Trump’s attempt to overturn his election defeat, including events around the deadly Capitol attack, has been widely reported.That has focused attention on her husband, a stringent conservative who has not recused himself from election-related cases.When Trump tried to deny the House January 6 committee access to White House records, Thomas was the only justice to side with the former president. Texts from Ginni Thomas to Trump’s chief of staff were subsequently revealed.Supreme court justices govern themselves in ethical matters. Activists and some Democratic politicians have therefore called for Thomas to resign or be impeached.Only one supreme court justice has been impeached: Samuel Chase in 1805. He survived. But Chase was accused of “tending to prostitute the high judicial character with which he was invested, to the low purpose of an electioneering partisan” – a charge with strong echoes in the case of Clarence and Ginni Thomas.The Post said that on 9 November, two days after the election was called for Biden, Ginni Thomas used “FreeRoots, an online platform intended to make it easy to send pre-written emails to multiple elected officials”, to send identical messages to 20 members of the Arizona House and seven state senators.The emails urged the Republicans to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure” and “fight back against fraud”.On 13 December, the day before electoral college votes were cast, Thomas emailed 22 members of the Arizona House and one senator.That message said: “Before you choose your state’s electors … consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you don’t stand up and lead.” It also “linked to a video of a man urging lawmakers to ‘put things right’ and ‘not give in to cowardice’.”Proven fraud in the 2020 election is vanishingly rare. Regardless, Arizona Republicans pursued a controversial audit – which increased Biden’s margin of victory.Ginni Thomas did not comment on the new Post report. Nor did the supreme court. Thomas has said her activism does not clash with her husband’s work.Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or Crew, said: “We’ve now learned that Ginni Thomas’s role in pushing officials to overturn the 2020 election was significantly greater than we knew.“Justice Thomas’s failure to recuse on cases about the 2020 election looks worse and worse. This undermines democracy.”Pointing to Ginni Thomas’s position on the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, to which she was appointed by Trump, Crew said: “Friendly reminder that Ginni Thomas has a government position and absolutely should not.”News of the Arizona emails emerged in the aftermath of a dramatic primetime hearing staged by the House committee investigating January 6. Responding to the hearing, Trump repeated his lie about electoral fraud.Amid growing calls for a criminal indictment against Trump, Wajahat Ali, a columnist and senior fellow at the Western States Center, which works to strengthen democracy, tweeted: “Democrats should aggressively put pressure on Clarence and Ginni Thomas.“You have an extremist conservative duo working the courts and the rightwing activist machine to overturn our free and fair election.”TopicsUS elections 2020RepublicansUS supreme courtLaw (US)Clarence ThomasArizonaDonald TrumpnewsReuse this content More