by Farnoush Amiri | The Associated Press
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Riffensperger is set to testify on Tuesday on a House 6 committee in which he faces extraordinary pressure from former President Donald Trump to find “11,780” votes to block Joe Biden’s election victory. could turn the state.
Riffensperger, along with his deputy Gabe Sterling and Arizona State House Speaker Rusty Bowers, are due to be key witnesses when the House committee’s January 6, 2021 investigation begins Tuesday.
The focus will be on how the former president and his allies vigorously pressure officials in key battleground states with plans to reject ballots or entire state ballots to keep the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Additionally, the panel will outline how Trump knew his unrelenting pressure campaign could potentially lead to violence against state and local officials and their families, but according to a select committee aide, anyway. followed it.
“We will show courageous state officials who stood up and said they would not go with this plan to call legislatures back in session or nullify Joe Biden’s results,” said Representative Adam Schiff, D-California, one of the Democratic members of the committee told CNN on Sunday.
The fourth hearing by the panel this month is the latest attempt to delve into Trump’s unprecedented effort to stay in power, a sprawling plan that the January 6 committee chairman likened to a “coup attempt.” The committee will review how Trump leaned on Riffensperger to invalidate ballots that voters had cast for Biden. And then he tapped state legislators in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other disputed states to disallow election results from their voters.
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.
Georgia’s top election official Raffensperger rejected Trump’s request to “search” enough votes to reverse Biden’s victory in the state — a request caught on tape during a phone call before the January 6 attacks.
During the call, Trump repeatedly cited unproven claims of fraud and raised the possibility of a “criminal offense” if Georgia officials did not change the number of votes. The state counted its votes three times before Biden’s victory was certified by a margin of 11,779.
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, intimidation — it’s too much, it’s not right,” said Sterling, a Republican.
Bowers is expected to discuss the pressure he faced to reverse Arizona’s results — from what Trump’s advisers called the Republican state leader a “teenager” on Monday.
In an interview with the Associated Press after arriving in Washington before the hearing, Bowers said he expected to be asked about a call with Trump, during which attorney Rudy Giuliani asked to replace Arizona voters with those who didn’t. Thoughts, who would vote for Trump.
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.
Also testifying on Tuesday is Wandrea “Shay” Moss, one of two Georgia election activists who filed a defamation suit against a conservative website in December 2020. Moss claimed that One America News Network made false allegations that he and his mother were involved in ballot fraud during the election.
The lawsuit, which was settled in April, also named Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani as a vocal proponent of the baseless claim, which the mother and daughter say led to intense harassment both in person and online.
The select committee also plans to open up on Tuesday an elaborate “fake voter” plan that was intended to thwart Biden’s election victory. The plan saw fake voters in seven battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico — sign certificates saying Trump, Biden had not won their 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 voters from their states where Trump’s team was claiming fraud.
Fake electoral certificates were produced and sent to the National Archives and Congress. But the effort ultimately failed, as Vice President Mike Pence rejected Trump’s repeated demands that he withhold the certification of Biden’s victory on January 6, 2021 – a power he had in his purely ceremonial manner. was not in the role.
The committee says it will also show on Tuesday that it has gathered enough evidence through its more than 1,000 interviews and thousands of documents to link separate attempts to directly reverse the election from Trump.
At least 20 people were summoned by a House panel in relation to the bogus voter scheme, which included former Trump campaign members, state party officials and state legislators.
“While we will show during a hearing what the president’s role was in trying to get states to name alternative slates of voters, the plan initially relied on the expectation that the legislature would reconvene and bless it,” Schiff said.
Schiff told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that the hearing will also investigate former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ “intimate role” in a conspiracy to pressure Georgia state legislators and election officials.
Raffensperger’s public testimony comes weeks after he appeared before a special grand jury in Georgia investigating whether Trump and others tried to illegally interfere in the state’s 2020 election.
In retaliation for Raffensperger’s refusal to support his election lies, Trump recruited a primary challenger in an effort to remove him from office. But Raffensperger played down the threat in last month’s primary, positioning him to compete against Democrats in the general election.