Donald Trump “engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election from him,” Congressmember Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack, said during Thursday’s primetime hearing. “This was not true.” We air excerpts from her presentation, which included a new video of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner dismissing concerns about the campaign to overturn the 2020 election as mere “whining.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
As we continue our coverage of the first House select January 6th committee hearing, we turn now to the committee’s vice chair, Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans who agreed to join the committee.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Mr. Chairman, at 6:01 p.m. on January 6th, after he spent hours watching a violent mob besiege, attack and invade our Capitol, Donald Trump tweeted. But he did not condemn the attack. Instead, he justified it.
“These are the things and events that happen,” he said, “when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”
As you will see in the hearings to come, President Trump believed his supporters at the Capitol — and I quote — “were doing what they should be doing.” This is what he told his staff as they pleaded with him to call off the mob, to instruct his supporters to leave.
Over a series of hearings in the coming weeks, you will hear testimony, live and on video, from more than half a dozen former White House staff in the Trump administration, all of whom were in the West Wing of the White House on January 6th. You will hear testimony that, quote, “The president did not really want to put anything out” calling off the riot or asking his supporters to leave. You will hear that President Trump was yelling and, quote, “really angry at advisers who told him he needed to be doing something more.” And aware of the rioters’ chants to “hang Mike Pence,” the president responded with this sentiment: quote, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea.” Mike Pence, quote, “deserves” it.
AMY GOODMAN: Republican Congressmember Liz Cheney went on to describe what she called Donald Trump’s seven-part plan to overturn the election.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: On the morning of January 6th, President Donald Trump’s intention was to remain president of the United States despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election and in violation of his constitutional obligation to relinquish power. Over multiple months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power. In our hearings, you will see evidence of each element of this plan.
In our second hearing, you will see that Donald Trump and his advisers knew that he had, in fact, lost the election. But despite this, President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information, to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election from him. This was not true.
Jason Miller was a senior Trump campaign spokesman. In this clip, Miller describes a call between the Trump campaign’s internal data expert and President Trump a few days after the 2020 election.
JASON MILLER: I was in the Oval Office. And at some point in the conversation, Matt Oczkowski, who was the lead data person, was brought on, and I remember he delivered to the president pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose.
INVESTIGATOR: And that was based, Mr. Miller, on Matt and the data team’s assessment of the sort of county-by-county, state-by-state results as reported?
JASON MILLER: Correct.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Alex Cannon was one of President Trump’s campaign lawyers. He previously worked for the Trump Organization. One of his responsibilities was to assess allegations of election fraud in November 2020. Here is one sample of his testimony, discussing what he told White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
ALEX CANNON: I remember a call with Mr. Meadows where Mr. Meadows was asking me what I was finding and if I was finding anything. And I remember sharing with him that we weren’t finding anything that would be sufficient to change the results in any of the key states.
INVESTIGATOR: When was that conversation?
ALEX CANNON: Probably in November, mid- to late November. I think it was before my child was born.
INVESTIGATOR: And what was Mr. Meadows’ reaction to that information?
ALEX CANNON: I believe the words he used were: “So there’s no there there.”
REP. LIZ CHENEY: “There’s no there there.” The Trump campaign’s general counsel, Matt Morgan, gave similar testimony. He explained that all of the fraud allegations and the campaign’s other election arguments, taken together and viewed in the best possible light for President Trump, could still not change the outcome of the election. President Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr also told Donald Trump his election claims were wrong.
WILLIAM BARR: Repeatedly told the president, in no uncertain terms, that I did not see evidence of fraud, and — you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election. And frankly, a year and a half later, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on that.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Attorney General Barr also told President Trump that his allegations about Dominion voting machines were groundless.
WILLIAM BARR: I saw absolutely zero basis for the allegations, but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people, members of the public, that there was this systemic corruption in the system and that their votes didn’t count, and that these machines, controlled by somebody else, were actually determining it, which was complete nonsense. And it was being laid out there. And I told him that it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time on that and it was doing grave disservice to the country.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: But President Trump persisted, repeating the false Dominion allegations in public at least a dozen more times, even after his attorney general told him they were, quote, “complete nonsense.” And after Barr’s resignation on December 23rd, the acting attorney general who replaced him, Jeff Rosen, and the acting deputy, Richard Donoghue, told President Trump over and over again that the evidence did not support allegations he was making in public.
Many of President Trump’s White House staff also recognized that the evidence did not support the claims President Trump was making. This is the President’s daughter commenting on Bill Barr’s statement that the department found no fraud sufficient to overturn the election.
INVESTIGATOR: How did that affect your perspective about the election when Attorney General Barr made that statement?
IVANKA TRUMP: It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he was saying.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter and adviser, who spent hours alone with Donald Trump on that January 6th afternoon during the riot. She also testified before the committee for about eight hours. During the hearing on Thursday evening, Vice Chair Liz Cheney also featured video testimony from Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: The White House staff knew that President Trump was willing to entertain and use conspiracy theories to achieve his ends. They knew the president needed to be cut off from all of those who had encouraged him. They knew that President Donald Trump was too dangerous to be left alone — at least until he left office on January 20th. These are important facts for Congress and the American people to understand fully.
When a president fails to take the steps necessary to preserve our union — or, worse, causes a constitutional crisis — we’re at a moment of maximum danger for our republic. Some in the White House took responsible steps to try to prevent January 6th. Others egged the president on. Others, who could have acted, refused to do so.
In this case, the White House counsel was so concerned about potentially lawless activity that he threatened to resign multiple times. That is exceedingly rare and exceedingly serious. It requires immediate attention, especially when the entire team threatens to resign. However, in the Trump White House, it was not exceedingly rare, and it was not treated seriously.
This is a clip of Jared Kushner addressing multiple threats by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his team of lawyers to resign in the weeks before January 6th.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Jared, are you aware of instances where Pat Cipollone threatened to resign?
JARED KUSHNER: I kind of — like I said, my interest at that time was on trying to get as many pardons done. And I know that, you know, he was always — him and the team were always saying, “Oh, we’re going to resign. We’re not going to be here if this happens, if that happens.” So, I kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honest with you.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: “Whining.” There is a reason why people serving in our government take an oath to the Constitution. As our Founding Fathers recognized, democracy is fragile. People in positions of public trust are duty-bound to defend it, to step forward when action is required. In our country, we don’t swear an oath to an individual or a political party. We take our oath to defend the United States Constitution. And that oath must mean something.
Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Wyoming Republican Congressmember Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. She’s also the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.