We spend the hour featuring highlights from the second public hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Main witnesses were ex-President Donald Trump’s former inner circle, including campaign manager Bill Stepien, Attorney General William Barr, campaign adviser Jason Miller and his own daughter Ivanka Trump, who all said Trump ignored them on election night in November 2020 when they argued against declaring victory. They described how Trump instead turned to his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who they said was drunk when he urged Trump to claim he’d won and say the election was being stolen.
AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol held its second public hearing, with two more scheduled this week: Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern and Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern. Democracy Now! is bringing you the hearings live at democracynow.org. The Washington Post reports there will likely be eight hearings this month with a possible final hearing in September, just ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Monday’s hearing was briefly delayed when one of the witnesses, former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, pulled out of testifying live when his wife went into labor. In addition to becoming a father, Stepien is also currently serving as an adviser to the Trump-endorsed congressional candidate running against the committee’s Republican vice chair, Liz Cheney, in Wyoming.
Video testimony was aired Monday of numerous Trump White House insiders saying there was no basis to Donald Trump’s claims the election was stolen. The committee also laid out how Trump used lies about election fraud to raise $250 million from his supporters for an election defense fund that did not exist.
This is part of committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney’s opening remarks.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: First, you will hear firsthand testimony that the president’s campaign advisers urged him to await the counting of votes and not to declare victory on election night. The president understood, even before the election, that many more Biden voters had voted by mail because President Trump ignored the advice of his campaign experts and told his supporters only to vote in person. Donald Trump knew before the election that the counting of those mail-in ballots in several states would not begin until late in the day and would not be complete for multiple days. This was expected, reported and widely known.
You will also hear testimony that President Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night and instead followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani to just claim he won and insist that the vote counting stop, to falsely claim everything was fraudulent. He falsely told the American people that the election was not legitimate — in his words, quote, “a major fraud.” Millions of Americans believed him.
Second, pay attention to what Donald Trump and his legal team said repeatedly about Dominion voting machines, far-flung conspiracies with a deceased Venezuelan communist allegedly pulling the strings. This was, quote, “complete nonsense,” as Bill Barr said. President Trump’s own campaign advisers, his Department of Justice and his cybersecurity experts all told him the same thing. Here, for example, is White House lawyer Eric Herschmann. His view was shared by many of the Trump team whom we interviewed.
ERIC HERSCHMANN: I thought the Dominion stuff was — I never saw any evidence whatsoever to sustain those allegations.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: And third, as Mike Pence’s staff started to get a sense for what Donald Trump had planned for January 6th, they called the campaign experts to give them a briefing on election fraud and all the other election claims. On January 2nd, the general counsel of the Trump campaign, Matthew Morgan — this is the campaign’s chief lawyer — summarized what the campaign had concluded weeks earlier, that none of the arguments about fraud or anything else could actually change the outcome of the election.
MATTHEW MORGAN: Generally discussed on that topic was whether the fraud maladministration, abuse or irregularities, if aggregated and read most favorably to the campaign, would that be outcome determinative. And I think everyone’s assessment in the room, at least amongst the staff — Marc Short, myself, and Greg Jacob — was that it was not sufficient to be outcome determinative.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: As is obvious, this was before the attack on the Capitol. The Trump campaign legal team knew there was no legitimate argument, fraud, irregularities, or anything, to overturn the election, and yet President Trump went ahead with his plans for January 6th anyway.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s January 6th committee vice chair, Republican Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney.
During Monday’s hearing, the committee featured video testimony from the depositions of some of former President Trump’s top campaign staff, including senior adviser Jason Miller and Trump’s own daughter, Ivanka Trump, who was his senior adviser, who all said Trump ignored them on election night in November 2020 when they argued against declaring victory. They described how Trump instead turned to his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who they said was drunk when he urged Trump to claim he’d won and say the election was being stolen. This is former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien in deposition testimony.
INVESTIGATOR: Do you remember Rudy Giuliani being at the White House on election night and into the early hours the next morning?
BILL STEPIEN: I do.
INVESTIGATOR: What do you remember about when he came?
BILL STEPIEN: He — he was — there were — I had heard that he was upstairs, you know, in that aforementioned reception area. And he was looking to talk to the president. And it was suggested instead that he’d come talk to several of us down off the Map Room.
INVESTIGATOR: You said that Mr. — you had heard that Mr. Giuliani wanted to talk to the president, and then he was directed your way. Did you end up talking to Mr. Giuliani when he was directed [inaudible] —
BILL STEPIEN: I did. I did.
INVESTIGATOR: What was that conversation?
BILL STEPIEN: A lot of conversations were directed my way. A few of us — myself, Jason Miller, Justin Clark and Mark Meadows — gathered in a room off the Map Room to — to listen to whatever Rudy presumably wanted to say to the president.
INVESTIGATOR: Was there anyone in that conversation who, in your observation, had had too much to drink?
BILL STEPIEN: Like, Mayor Giuliani.
INVESTIGATOR: Tell me more about that? What was your observation about his potential intoxication during that discussion about what the president should say when he addressed the nation on election night?
BILL STEPIEN: And the mayor was definitely intoxicated, but I do not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president, for example.
INVESTIGATOR: Were you part of any discussions with the people I mentioned — Mr. Stepien, Mr. Meadows or anyone else — about whether the president should make any sort of speech on election night?
RUDY GIULIANI: I mean, I spoke to the president. They may have been present. But the president — spoke to the president several times that night.
JASON MILLER: There were suggestions by, I believe it was Mayor Giuliani, to go and declare victory and say that we had won it outright.
BILL STEPIEN: It was far too early to be making any calls like that. Ballots — ballots were still being counted. Ballots were still going to be counted for days. And it was far too early to be making any proclamation like that.
JASON MILLER: I remember saying that I — to the best of my memory, I was saying that we should not go and declare victory until we had a better sense of the numbers.
INVESTIGATOR: OK. Can you be more specific about that conversation — in particular, what Mayor Giuliani said, your response, and then anybody else in the room’s response?
JASON MILLER: I think, effectively, Mayor Giuliani was saying, “We won it. They’re stealing it from us. Where did all the votes come from? We need to go say that we won,” and, essentially, that anyone who didn’t agree with that position was being weak.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Jason Miller.
INVESTIGATOR: What was your view at the time as to what he should or shouldn’t say?
IVANKA TRUMP: I don’t know that I had a firm view as to what he should say in that circumstance. The results were still being counted. It was becoming clear that the race would not be called on election night.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Ivanka Trump. This is Bill Stepien.
BILL STEPIEN: My belief, my recommendation was to say that votes were still being counted. It’s too early to — to tell, too early to call the race. But, you know, we are proud of the race we run — we ran, and we, you know, think we’re — think we’re in a — in good position, and we’ll have more to say about this, you know, the next day or the next day, whenever we had something to say.
INVESTIGATOR: And did anybody who was a part of that conversation disagree with your message?
BILL STEPIEN: Yes.
INVESTIGATOR: Who is that?
BILL STEPIEN: The president disagreed with that. I don’t recall the particular words. He thought I was wrong. He told me so, and, you know, that they were going to, you know, go in a — he was going to go in a different direction.
AMY GOODMAN: That last voice, former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. When we come back, other former members of President Trump’s inner circle, including former Attorney General William Barr. The January 6th committee also laid out how Trump lied about election fraud to raise $250 million from his supporters for an election defense fund that did not exist. Stay with us.