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Top Arizona Republican Testifies He Rejected Trump Plot to Overturn Vote, Then Faced Violent Threats

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The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection held its fourth public hearing Tuesday with testimony that included a series of Republican state officials detailing pressure they faced from President Donald Trump and his staff to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Republican Speaker of the Arizona House “Rusty” Bowers described how he was pushed by Trump, John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani to call the Arizona Legislature back into session to investigate what Trump’s team claimed were hundreds of thousands of illegal votes cast by dead people and undocumented immigrants in a greater effort to undo Joe Biden’s win in the state. Bowers refused after Trump’s team wasn’t able to provide evidence of a rigged election — and consequently Bowers and his family became the target of death threats by white supremacist groups and other Trump supporters. “I didn’t want to be used as a pawn,” said Bowers during his live testimony.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The House select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection has accused Donald Trump of playing a direct and personal role in pressuring state and local officials to help overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. This is the committee’s chair, Bennie Thompson.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON: What happened to Mike Pence wasn’t an isolated part of Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn the election. In fact, pressuring public servants into betraying their oath was a fundamental part of the playbook.

AMY GOODMAN: The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol held its fourth televised public hearing Tuesday with testimony from a series of Republican state officials who described the pressure they faced from then-President Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani and their campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as well as a Black election worker in Georgia and her mother, whose lives were forever changed in December 2020 when Trump’s top campaign lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed the women had rigged the election vote when Trump lost Georgia. Many of the witnesses described severe harassment and threats of violence.

Today we bring you highlights of their testimony, beginning with Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a lifelong Republican, who supported Arizona’s voter suppression laws, voted for Trump, and even said he would vote for him again. Bowers testified about how he denied Trump’s request to overturn his loss in Arizona by 10,457 votes by potentially removing Joe Biden’s electors in the state. Bowers was questioned by January 6th committee member Congressmember Adam Schiff, a Democrat of California.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: After the election, you received a phone call from President Trump and Rudy Giuliani in which they discussed the result of the presidential election in Arizona. If you would, tell us about that call and whether the former president or Mr. Giuliani raised allegations of election fraud.

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Thank you. I — my wife and I had returned from attending our church meetings. It was on a Sunday. And we were still in the driveway. And I had received a call from a colleague telling me that the White House was trying to get in touch with her and I, and that she said, “Please, if you get a call, let’s try to take this together.”

Immediately I saw that the White House on my Bluetooth was calling, and I took the call and was asked by the — I would presume, the operator at the White House, if I would hold for the president, which I did. And he — Mr. Giuliani came on first, and niceties. Then Mr. Trump, President Trump, then-President Trump came on, and we initiated a conversation.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And during that conversation, did you ask Mr. Giuliani for proof of these allegations of fraud that he was making?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: On multiple occasions, yes.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And when you asked him for evidence of this fraud, what did he say?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: He said that they did have proof. And I asked him, “Do you have names?” “For example, we have 200,000 illegal immigrants, some large number, 5,000 or 6,000 dead people, etc.” And I said, “Do you have their names?” “Yes.” “Will you give them to me?” “Yes.” The president interrupted and said, “Give the man what he needs, Rudy.” And he said, “I will.” And that happened on at least two occasions, that interchange in the conversation.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: So, Mr. Giuliani was claiming in the call that there were hundreds of thousands of undocumented people and thousands of dead people who had purportedly voted in the election?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Yes.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And you asked him for evidence of that.

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: I did.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And did he ever receive — did you ever receive from him that evidence, either during the call, after the call or to this day?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Never.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: What was the ask during this call? He was making these allegations of fraud, but he had something or a couple things that they wanted you to do. What were those?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: The ones I remember were, first, the — that we would hold, that I would allow an official committee at the Capitol so that they could hear this evidence and that we could take action thereafter. And I refused. I said, up to that time, the circus — I called it a circus — had been brewing with lots of demonstrations, both at the counting center, at the Capitol and other places. And I didn’t want to have that in the House. I did not feel that the evidence — granted, in its absence — merited a hearing. And I didn’t want to be used as a pawn, if there was some other need that the — that the committee hearing would fulfill. So, that was the first ask, that we hold an official committee hearing.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And what was his second ask?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: I said, “To what end? To what end, the hearing?” And he said, “Well, we have heard, by an official high up in the Republican Legislature, that there is a legal theory or a legal ability in Arizona that you can remove the — the electors of President Biden and replace them. And we would — we would like to have the legitimate opportunity through the committee to come to that end and — and remove that.” And I said, “That’s — that’s something I’ve — that’s totally new to me. I’ve never heard of any such thing.” And he pressed that point. And I said, “Look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath, when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it, and I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona. And this is totally foreign as an idea or a theory to me, and I would never do anything of such magnitude without deep consultation with qualified attorneys.” And I said, “I’ve got some good attorneys, and I’m going to give you their names. But you are asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath.” And I think that was up to that point.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: During the conversation — and you heard, I think, when we played a snippet of Mr. Giuliani calling other state legislators and saying that he was calling as essentially a fellow Republican. Did he make a similar appeal to you or bring up the fact that you shared a similar party?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Whether it was in that call or in a later meeting, he did bring that up more than once.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And how — how would he bring that up?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: He would say, “Aren’t we all Republicans here? I would think we would get a better reception. I mean, I would think you would listen a little more open to my suggestions, that we’re all Republicans.”

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And this — this evidence that you asked him for that would justify this extraordinary step, I think you said they never produced it. Why did you feel, either in the absence of that evidence or with it, what they were asking you to do would violate your oath to the Constitution?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: First of all, when the people — and in Arizona, I believe it’s some 40-plus years earlier, the Legislature had established the manner of electing our officials or the electors for the presidential race. Once it was given to the people, as in Bush v. Gore, illustrated by the Supreme Court, it becomes a fundamental right of the people.

So, as far as I was concerned, for someone to ask me in the — I would call it a paucity. There was no – no evidence being presented of any strength. Evidence can be hearsay evidence. It’s still evidence, but it’s still hearsay. But strong, judicial-quality evidence, anything that would say to me you have a doubt, deny your oath, I will not do that. And on more than — on more than one occasion throughout all this, that has been brought up. And it is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired, of my most basic foundational beliefs. And so, for me to do that because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being. I will not do it.

AMY GOODMAN: Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a longtime Trump supporter, testifying Tuesday to the House January 6th committee. He was questioned by Democratic Congressmember Adam Schiff, who also asked Bowers about threats he and his family faced after he refused Trump’s request to overturn the 2020 election.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Mr. Bowers, I understand that as you flew from Phoenix to Washington yesterday, you reflected upon some passages from a personal journal that you were keeping in December 2020 while all of this was taking place. With your permission, I’m wondering if you would be willing to share one passage in particular with us.

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Thank you very much. It is painful to have friends who have been such a help to me turn on me with such rancor. I may, in the eyes of men, not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions, but I do not take this current situation in a light manner, a fearful manner or a vengeful manner. I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to, with any contrived desire towards deflection of my deep foundational desire to follow God’s will as I believe he led my conscience to embrace. How else will I ever approach him in the wilderness of life, knowing that I ask of this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course he let me take — he led me to take?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Those are powerful words. I understand that taking the courageous positions that you did following the 2020 election in defense of the rule of law and protecting the voters of Arizona resulted in you and your family being subjected to protests and terrible threats. Can you tell us how this impacted you and your family?

SPEAKER RUSTY BOWERS: Well, as others in the videos have mentioned, we received, my secretaries would say, in excess of 20,000 emails and tens of thousands of voicemails and texts, which saturated our offices, and we were unable to work, at least communicate.

But at home, up ’til even recently, it is the new pattern or a pattern in our lives to worry what will happen on Saturdays, because we have various groups come by, and they have had video panel trucks with videos of me, proclaiming me to be a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt politician, and blaring loudspeakers in my neighborhood and leaving literature both on my property and — but arguing and threatening with neighbors and with myself.

And I don’t know if I should name groups, but there was a — one gentleman that had the three bars on his chest. And he had a pistol and was threatening my neighbor — not with the pistol, but just vocally. When I saw the gun, I knew I had to get close. And at the same time, on some of these, we had a daughter who was gravely ill, who was upset by what was happening outside. And my wife, that is a valiant person, very, very strong, quiet, very strong woman. So it was disturbing. It was disturbing.

AMY GOODMAN: Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, longtime Trump supporter. His daughter, Casey Bowers, died January 28th, 2020, a few weeks after the January 6th insurrection.

When we come back, we’ll hear more testimony from the public hearing, including a Black election worker and her mother in Georgia whose lives were forever changed when President Trump claimed the women helped to rig the vote when he lost Georgia. Stay with us.

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“Whatever You Can Do”: Jan. 6 Hearing Lays Out “Fake Electors” Scheme to Rig 2020 Election for Trump

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