The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol held what may have been its final public hearing on Thursday. The meeting ended with the committee unanimously voting to subpoena former President Donald Trump, likely setting the stage for a court battle. During the hearing, Congressmember Zoe Lofgren of California detailed how Trump had developed a plan to declare victory in the 2020 election regardless of the actual outcome. “This big lie — President Trump’s effort to convince Americans that he had won the 2020 election — began before the election results even came in. It was intentional, it was premeditated,” Lofgren said. The committee also aired a new video showing Trump’s ally Roger Stone telling Trump supporters to declare victory no matter the outcome. “I really do suspect it will still be up in the air. But when that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory,” said Stone, whom the committee also linked to right-wing extremist organizations, including the Proud Boys. “We’ll start smashing pumpkins, if you know what I mean.”
AMY GOODMAN: The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol held what may have been its final public hearing Thursday. The meeting ended with the committee unanimously voting to subpoena former President Donald Trump, setting up a likely court battle. Committee members said the former president is at the center of what happened January 6th, when far-right insurrectionists attacked the Capitol in an effort to keep Trump in power.
Today we spend the hour airing excerpts of the hearing. We begin with Democratic Congressmember Zoe Lofgren of California, who detailed how Trump had developed a plan to declare victory in the 2020 election regardless of the actual outcome.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN: A few days before the election, Mr. Trump also consulted with one of his outside advisers, inside activist Tom Fitton, about the strategy for election night. The select committee got this pre-prepared statement from the National Archives. As you can see, the draft statement, which was sent on October 31st, declares, “We had an election today — and I won.”
And the Fitton memo specifically indicates a plan that only the votes counted by the Election Day deadline — and there is no Election Day deadline — would matter. Everyone knew that ballot counting would lawfully continue past Election Day. Claiming that the counting on election night must stop, before millions of votes were counted, was, as we now know, a key part of President Trump’s premeditated plan.
On Election Day, just after 5 p.m., Mr. Fitton indicated he had spoken with the president about the statement. “Sending along again. Just talked to him about the draft below…” Again, this plan to keep — to declare victory was in place before any of the results had been determined.
In the course of our investigation, we also interviewed Brad Parscale, President Trump’s former campaign manager. He told us he understood that President Trump planned as early as July that he would say he won the election even if he lost.
And just a few days before the election, Steve Bannon, a former Trump chief White House strategist and outside adviser to President Trump, spoke to a group of his associates from China and said this.
STEPHEN BANNON: And what Trump’s going to do is just declare victory. Right? He’s going to declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s the winner; he’s just going to say he’s the winner. …
The Democrats — more of our people vote early that count. Theirs vote in mail. And so, they’re going to have a natural disadvantage, and Trump’s going to take advantage of it. That’s our strategy. He’s just going to declare himself a winner. So, when you wake up Wednesday morning, it’s going to be a firestorm. …
Also — also, if Trump is — if Trump is losing by 10:00 or 11:00 at night, it’s going to be even crazier. No, because he’s going sit right there and say, “They stole it.”
UNIDENTIFIED: Yeah, agree.
STEPHEN BANNON: “I’m directing the attorney general to shut down all ballot places in all 50 states.” It’s going to be — no, he’s not going out easy. If Trump — if Biden is winning, Trump is going to do some crazy [bleep].
REP. ZOE LOFGREN: As you know, Mr. Bannon refused to testify in our investigation. He’s been convicted of criminal contempt of Congress, and he’s awaiting sentencing. But the evidence indicates that Mr. Bannon had advance knowledge of Mr. Trump’s intent to declare victory falsely on election night, but also that Mr. Bannon knew about Mr. Trump’s planning for January 6th. Here’s what Bannon said on January 5th.
STEPHEN BANNON: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. … It’s all converging, and now we’re on, as they say, the point of attack, right? The point of attack tomorrow. … I’ll tell you this: It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen. OK? It’s going to be quite extraordinarily different. And all I can say is strap in. … You have made this happen, and tomorrow it’s game day. So, strap in. Let’s get ready.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN: Another close associate of Donald Trump apparently knew of Mr. Trump’s intentions, as well. Now, Roger Stone is a political operative with a reputation for dirty tricks. In November 2019, he was convicted of lying to Congress and other crimes, and sentenced to more than three years in prison. He’s also a longtime adviser to President Trump and was in communication with President Trump throughout 2020. Mr. Trump pardoned Roger Stone on December 23rd, 2020. …
Right before the election, here’s Roger Stone talking about what President Trump would do after the election.
ROGER STONE: Let’s just hope we’re celebrating. I suspect it’ll be — I really do suspect it will still be up in the air. But when that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. “No, we won. [Bleep] you. Sorry. Over. We won. You’re wrong. [Bleep] you.”
I said, [bleep] the voting, let’s get right to the violence.
UNIDENTIFIED: That’s what I’m [bleep] saying. There’s no point.
ROGER STONE: We’ll have to start smashing pumpkins if you know what I mean.
UNIDENTIFIED: Oh, yeah.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN: The select committee called Mr. Stone as a witness, but he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
INVESTIGATOR: Do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified?
ROGER STONE: On the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer your question on the basis of the Fifth Amendment.
INVESTIGATOR: And, Mr. Stone, did you have any role in planning for the violence on January 6th?
ROGER STONE: Once again, I will assert my Fifth Amendment right to decline to answer your question.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN: Although we don’t yet have all the relevant records of Roger Stone’s communications, even Stone’s own social media posts acknowledge that he spoke with Donald Trump on December 27th as preparations for January 6th were underway.
In this post, you can see how Roger Stone talked about his conversations with President Trump. He wrote, “I also told the president exactly how he can appoint a special counsel with full subpoena power to ensure those who are attempting to steal the 2020 election through voter fraud are charged and convicted and to ensure Donald Trump continues as our president.”
As we know by now, the idea for a special counsel was not just an idle suggestion. It was something President Trump had actually tried to do earlier that month.
We know that Roger Stone was at the Willard Hotel on January 5th and 6th, and we know from other witness testimony that President Trump asked his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to speak with Roger Stone and General Michael Flynn that night.
In addition to his connection to President Trump, Roger Stone maintained extensive direct connections to two groups responsible for violently attacking the Capitol: the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. Individuals from both of these organizations have been charged with the crime of seditious conspiracy.
And what is seditious conspiracy? It is a conspiracy to use violent force against the United States, to oppose the lawful authority of the United States.
Multiple associates of Roger Stone from both the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys have been charged with this crime. Close associates of Roger Stone, including Joshua James, have pled guilty to this crime.
We know that at least seven Oath Keepers who have been criminally charged provided personal security for Roger Stone or were seen with him on January 6th or in the weeks leading up to January 6th. For example, Joshua James, the leader of the Alabama Oath Keepers, provided security for Roger Stone and was with him on January 5th. This is the picture of the two together on January 5th. James entered the Capitol on January 6th. He assaulted a police officer. Earlier this year, he pled guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of Congress.
Another example is the married couple, Kelly and Connie Meggs. Kelly Meggs was the leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers. Both he and his wife provided security for Roger Stone, and both are charged with leading a military-style stack attack of Oath Keepers, attacking the Capitol on January 6th.
Perhaps even more disturbing is Roger Stone’s close association with Enrique Tarrio, the national chairman of the Proud Boys. Roger Stone’s connection with Enrique Tarrio and the Proud Boys is well documented by video evidence, with phone records the select committee has obtained. Tarrio, along with other Proud Boys, has been charged with multiple crimes concerning the attack on January 6th, including seditious conspiracy. During the attack, Tarrio sent a message to other Proud Boys claiming, “We did that.” He also visited the White House on December 12th. Later that day, he posted a disturbing video claiming credit for the attack. This video, posted on January 6th, was apparently created prior to the attack.
This big lie — President Trump’s effort to convince Americans that he had won the 2020 election — began before the election results even came in. It was intentional, it was premeditated. It was not based on election results or any evidence of actual fraud affecting the results, or any actual problems with voting machines. It was a plan concocted in advance to convince his supporters that he won. And the people who seemingly knew about that plan in advance would ultimately play a significant role in the events of January 6th.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Democratic Congressmember Zoe Lofgren of California.