1/6 panel to hear from Riffensperger, other Trump pushes

By Lisa Mascaro and Farnosh Amiri

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House 1/6 committee outlined Tuesday’s relentless pressure to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential election aimed at showing that it posed broader personal threats to the managers of American democracy – election workers and Local officials who opposed it defeated the President’s efforts

The January 6, 2021 investigative panel, the investigation into the attack on the US Capitol reopened with a focus on Trump’s efforts in the most localized way – by leaning on officials in key battleground states to outright reject ballots or To present alternative voters. For the final tally in Congress. The pressure was heightened by the defeated president’s false claims of voter fraud, which, the panel says, directly led to a riot at the Capitol.

Speaker Benny Thompson declared, “A handful of election officials in several key states stood between Donald Trump and the rise of American democracy.”

The hearing began with chilling accounts of a barrage of verbal attacks in front of state and local elected officials, including Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers of Arizona, who said he was carrying out a “disturbing” smear campaign online, bull-horned protests at his home and a were under pistols. A man who taunts his family and neighbors.

Bowers went through an account of being called by Trump on Sunday after returning from church when the defeated president proposed to the state to replace its voters for Joe Biden with those who favor Trump.

“I said, look, you’re asking me to do something that’s against my oath,” Bowers testified before the committee.

Bowers insisted on looking into evidence of Trump’s voter fraud, which he said Trump’s team never produced beyond vague allegations. He recalled that Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, once told him, “‘We have too many theories, we don’t have evidence.'”

Trump wanted Bowers to hold a hearing at the state capitol, but the Republican leader said there was already a “circus” surrounding the election. The panel showed video footage of protesters at an Arizona state home, including a horned hat wearing a prominent figure, Jacob Chansley, who was later arrested in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

Trump nonetheless pressed the Arizona official, including in a follow-up call, suggesting he expected a better response from a fellow Republican.

But Bowers testified under oath that because of his belief, which includes a belief that the US Constitution is divinely inspired, what the president was asking him to do was “foreign to my existence.”

Republican Representative Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice president, hugged Bowers during the break during the hearing.

She urged Americans to pay attention to the evidence being presented, declaring, “Donald Trump did not care about the threats of violence. He did not condemn them, made no effort to stop them.”

“We cannot allow America to become a country of conspiracy theories and thug violence.”

The public hearing, the fourth by the panel this month, stemmed from its annual inquiry into Trump’s unprecedented attempt to stay in power, a massive plan that the January 6 committee chairman likened to a “coup attempt”.

Thompson, D-Miss., pointed to the recent election controversy in New Mexico, saying, “The danger is not over. It is corrupting our democratic institutions.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Riffensperger testified about Trump’s phone call, asking him to find “11,780” votes that could overturn his state to prevent Biden’s election victory.

Raffensperger and his deputy Gabe Sterling, a former Georgia election worker, were key witnesses along with Wandrea “Shay” Moss, who, along with her mother, has said that she faced such severe public harassment from Trump aides, she felt that they were unable to lead a normal life.

While the committee cannot accuse Trump of any crimes, the Justice Department is watching the panel’s work closely. Trump’s actions in Georgia are also the subject of a grand jury investigation, with the district attorney expected to announce the findings this year.

Trump defended himself on social media, calling his phone call “perfect” to Raffensper, the way he described his 2020 call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, which resulted in his first impeachment.

During the call, days before the January 6 attack, Trump repeatedly cited unproven claims of fraud and raised the possibility of a “criminal offense” if Georgia officials did not change the state’s count. The state counted its votes three times before Biden’s victory was certified by a margin of 11,779.

Raffensperger’s public testimony comes weeks after he appeared before a special grand jury in Georgia to investigate whether Trump and others had illegally tried to interfere in the state’s 2020 election, and Raffensperger had previously Trump-backed challenger was defeated in the month’s primary election.

Sterling, Raffensperger’s chief operating officer, became a notable figure in Georgia’s long post-election countdown, and recounting of presidential ballots, with regular updates to a divided nation often broadcast live. At one point, soft-spoken Republicans implored Americans to quell heated rhetoric.

“Death threats, physical threats, threats – it’s too much, it’s not right,” he said.

Bowers also revealed a second phone call with Trump in December 2020, which he said was mainly small talk, although Trump also mentioned their first conversation.

Moss, who had worked for the Fulton County Elections Department since 2012, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, a temporary election worker, filed a defamation suit in December 2021. Moss claimed conservative outlet One America News Network and Giuliani falsely alleged that he and his mother had engaged in ballot fraud during the election. The case against OAN has since been dismissed with a settlement.

The selection committee also worked to resolve the elaborate “fake voter” plan that demanded representatives in seven battleground states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico—false signature certificates. Telling that Trump, not Biden, had won his states.

Trump’s lawyer, conservative law professor John Eastman, put forward fake voters in the weeks following the election. Trump and Eastman called hundreds of voters on a call on January 2, 2021, encouraging them to send alternate slates from their states where Trump’s team was claiming fraud.

The idea of ​​fake voters was designed to set up a challenge on January 6, 2021, when Congress met in a joint session, presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, which is usually a committee to accept states’ votes. formal role. But the effort failed, as Pence refused Trump’s repeated demands that he simply withhold the certification of Biden’s victory – a force he believed was in his purely ceremonial role. They didn’t have it.

The house panel had summoned at least 20 people in connection with the fake voter scheme. The committee says it will also show that it has gathered enough evidence through its more than 1,000 interviews and thousands of documents to link separate attempts to directly reverse Trump the election.

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Associated Press writers Marie Claire Jalonik in Washington and Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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