WATCH LIVE: Jan. 6 Committee hearings - Day 2

WATCH LIVE: Jan. 6 Committee hearings - Day 2

Show Video

Hello and welcome to the PBS NewsHour. In just a few minutes, the House Select Committee investigating January six will hold the second of at least six hearings on what led to the insurrection and former President Donald Trump's role in inciting the violent attack on the US Capitol. I'm joined by PBS NewsHour. I'm going to advise who's outside of the Capitol that day. I'm not based on Representative Cheney's information and the things that she shared in the first hearing. We know that today will be dedicated to looking into President Trump's role in inciting these riots. What led up to that

and and how he how he was a part of this bigger picture of what happened on January 6th? What evidence do we know of and what do we expect them to present today? Hey, Nicole, it's good to be with you. And you're absolutely right. Today's hearing, which will be slightly different from that primetime hearing we all remember from last week, is really going to drill much down into the details of what did the former president know and when did he know it. Now, those of folks who watched that hearing last week will remember they were sort of tweeting some of those elements. Right. We heard a Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, back then start to lay out examples of people who were very close to then President Trump, like Attorney General Bill Barr, his own daughter, Ivanka Trump, telling him he lost the election. These claims of election fraud are baseless. And and testifying to that in witness depositions that they had recorded and that were clips of which were played during that hearing. So the committee was

starting to kind of tease out, you're going to be hearing from people close to Trump in his orbit to lay out that he did, in fact, know he did not win the election. And yet he continued to perpetuate what we now call the big lie, the idea that the election was stolen and that Joe Biden was illegitimately and fraudulently elected. So today's hearing is going to drill down much more deeply into that.

We're going to be hearing from more people actually anticipated on that witness list were both the former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, who just this morning, it was announced is actually not going to be testifying. We understand his counsel may be reading a statement in his stead, but there's still some developments potentially moving on that that was due to a family emergency, we should note. But there's also going to be a man named Chris Dyer. Well, he's going to be testifying today. He was the former political editor for Fox News.

And he's coming because one of the big stories we remember about him after the election is Fox actually called Arizona for Joe Biden accurately on election night. And that was one of the reasons later reported that Mr. Steinle, what was actually fired from his job. So we're going to be hearing from a lot of people who were close to Trump, close to his advisers, who were telling him, you lost the election and laying out that he continued to say he won despite being told that was not true. The fact that Chris Stirewalt was let go is also a part of this dynamic of understanding the influence and relationship between former President Trump and Fox News.

So how does that relationship and what we hear from Chris Stirewalt inform that dynamic of that relationship and the influence that he has in the messaging that the public heard throughout the days that followed the election? So one of the things we know from a select committee aides who previewed some of the content we're going to be seeing today, which will include, as it did last week, witness testimony and video clips, edited video presentations as well. We know they're going to take us all the way back to election night. They are going to start there and chronologically kind of start to lay out when we knew the president was going to lose, when he was told and when he continued to make those false claims that he had actually won. So, Chris Stirewalt, testimony is probably a central part of that argument because as many networks were on election night, election desks, we know and these organizations make the call based on reporting and sourcing on the ground and other various information that's been in place for years and years.

How and when to call certain states for certain candidates. Fox was among those calling Arizona, which we know was a key state for Joe Biden on election night. So we expect that kind of testimony to be part of the chronology that they lay out. But the other thing, as you rightly note, Nicole, is that we have seen a ton of reporting and a ton of information coming out of the committee and some of the witness testimonies, depositions they've already conducted about that relationship between certain hosts at Fox and the Trump White House specifically have seen in the past leaked messages between Fox host Bill HANNITY and Trump's then chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Not only on election night and after election night, but then leading up to January 6th and during the January six attack and afterwards as well. Chris Stirewalt has been among those since leaving Fox, who's also come out and said in public, look, I don't believe Fox is actually interested in doing journalism. He has raised concerns about the relationship between the network and the Trump White House.

I think we can expect the. We'll be some questions around that as well. How did changes in the witness list today inform what today's hearings may look like and how that will shape the argument that the committee intends to make today? You know, I have to say, I am probably among those who was surprised that Mr. stepping in is not going to be testifying today. And I think it's fair to say

he was certainly among the most anticipated witnesses in these hearings. When you talk about people who were close to then President Trump, who participated in the conversations around when and how to message this whole stop the steal message and perpetuate the lie that he had actually won the election. Bill Stepien will be front and center in those conversations. I should also note The New York Times is reporting he's not appearing because his wife went into labor. So, of course, we wish

everyone well. We hope everything is okay. But if we hear from his counsel, if we see video clips from his previous testimony, I don't know exactly how we'll be getting that side of the story. But he would be key. He would be key as someone who was very close to then President Trump and can speak to some of those conversations behind closed doors we don't know about.

It's also worth noting, and this is just an interesting nugget that I think might get some attention today, too. Bill Stepien is currently reportedly advising a candidate who's challenging Liz Cheney back in Wyoming, who's a very closely aligned candidate to Mr. Trump, who also herself her name is Harriett Hagman, perpetuates this lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Her candidacy is based on that as one of her messages that she delivers. And so there's a really interesting tension there that you have someone who obviously ran the 2020 campaign for Donald Trump, perpetuated the big lie that he won the election, even though he didn't was scheduled to testify before the committee investigating that lie and how it led to January six and is not now testifying, but is also advising the campaign of someone challenging the vice chair of this committee.

So it's a bit of a tangled web, and I think it's one of the reasons we were so hotly anticipating this testimony because we want to know what he knew and when he knew it. But we'll have to wait and see exactly how we get that that part of the story in the hearing today. Right. And there's clearly a lot of political nuance in who we may hear from, who we expect to hear from, and just generally the the testimonies that are scheduled today. But beyond that, we know that this committee also scoured thousands of documents.

So what other information could they potentially bring that points out or paints a picture of former President Donald Trump knowing that he had lost the election and persisted in the direction that he did? You're absolutely right, Nicolle. They say they've now included over 140,000 records in their work so far, over a thousand interviews and depositions. I think it's also worth noting in the second panel scheduled for today, we're going to hear from some of the government officials who they say came under pressure to undermine and eventually overturn those election results. That includes an official from Georgia, a man named B.J. Pak, who is the former U.S. attorney in the northern district of Georgia. So Atlanta based,

he was someone who they say did come under pressure to change the election results there. He actually ended up resigning as a result of that pressure. And that was just two days before the January 6th insurrection.

We'll also hear from a man named Al Schmitt, who was the former city commissioner in Philadelphia who the committee says faced threats because of his unwillingness to undermine or overturn the election results there. So there's a story that the committee is building here. There's a narrative that this went beyond just trying to influence people around him, that there was pressure on government officials to overturn and undermine those election results. But, you know, 140,000 documents, a thousand witnesses and interviews who come before the committee, you have to imagine we'll be seeing more of those kinds of video clips like we saw last week, more records being brought forward, potentially more messages between some of these people. The committee says they're letting the facts lead the case and that the facts themselves will tell the story. So we'll be watching that story as it unfolds on this second day of those hearings.

As we mentioned earlier, you were there that day. You were a you bear you bore witness to what happened both as a journalist and as a human being. With that in mind and with the fact that you've continued to report on this throughout the days, months, weeks that have passed, what would you be paying most attention to today in this hearing? You know, one of the pieces that got a little bit of attention in the first hearing that might get additional attention today and in future hearings was what the people who were out there that day believed to be true. And I can tell you firsthand from my reporting, every single person we talked to who had come in to the Capitol grounds that day, and I'm talking about people who got in their car and drove seven, eight, nine, 10 hours just to be there. A couple of people I met who. Flew in from California just to be there. Central to their

decision to be outside that day, whether they participated in any violent act or not. Was the idea that the election was fraudulent, that Donald Trump had actually won the 2020 presidential election and that something was going to happen that day to stop the certification of those election results from moving forward. Every single person to a tee told us that same thing in some kind of messaging around those words. And so I can

say firsthand, I think one of the committee's premises that the language of the Big Lie helped to feed and fuel people showing up that day whether or not they participated in violence. That's absolutely true. So for me, I think I'm going to be watching to see if more of that kind of language is included. I also think some new folks were hearing from Chris Stirewalt. Among them could reveal some new information about some of the coordination and messaging about how how potent that message became that Mr. Trump was led to believe or continue to say that he won the election, even though the facts were presented to him, even though person after person told him he didn't, in fact, win.

And so I think those are the kinds of things I'm looking for. But again, tens of thousands of records, 1000 witness interviews later. I think the committee knows it has to build a pretty strong case if anyone's minds are actually going to be changed. Thank you so much for your reporting and for joining us on that. I'm Nicole Ellis for the PBS News Hour. We turn now to the hearing

room where the NewsHour will continue its special coverage of this hearing. Stay tuned and keep watching. He's so serious. We? They make the call. Yeah.

I've got. This program was made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you. Good morning. I'm Judy Woodruff.

And welcome to this PBS NewsHour special live coverage of the January six hearings held by the Select Committee of the House of Representatives to investigate last year's attack on the United States Capitol. This is the second in a series of hearings the committee plans to hold over the next two weeks. Today's hearings is starting a little later this morning than expected because of a last minute witness change.

Bill Stepien, who was former President Trump's campaign manager at the end of the campaign, will not be appearing due to a family emergency, we are told. And we are watching live pictures of the hearing. We're going to go there just as soon as Chairman Bennie Thompson calls the Committee to Order. As we wait, I will say that in the hearing last Thursday, Chairman Thompson and Republican Representative Liz Cheney, there you see her on his left, on your right.

They laid out their cases. They placed blame for inciting the attack squarely on former President Trump. Let's go to Chairman Thompson.

The select committee to investigate the January six attack on a United States Capitol will be in order. Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare the committee in recess at any point. Pursuant to House Deposition Authority Regulation ten, the chair announces the committee's approval to release the deposition material presented during today's hearing.

Good morning. Last week, the Select Committee laid out a preview of our initial findings about the conspiracy overseen and directed by Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and block the transfer of power, a scheme unprecedented in American history. My colleagues and I don't want to spend time talking about ourselves during these hearings, but as someone who's run for office a few times, I can tell you at the end of a campaign, it all comes down to the numbers. The numbers tell you the winner and the loser for the most part.

The numbers don't lie. But if something doesn't add up with the numbers, you go to court to get resolution, and that's the end of the line. We accept those results. That's what it means to respect the rule of law. That's what it means to seek elective office in our democracy. Because those numbers aren't just numbers.

They are votes. They are your votes. They are the will and the voice of the people.

And the very least, we should expect from any person seeking a position of public trust is the acceptance of the will of the people. Win or lose. Donald Trump didn't. He didn't have the numbers. He went to court.

He still didn't have the numbers. He lost. But he betrayed the trust of the American people. He ignored the will of the voters. He lied to his supporters and the country.

And he tried to remain in office after the people had voted him out and the courts upheld the will of the people. This morning, we'll tell the story of how Donald Trump lost an election and knew he lost an election and as a result of his loss, decided to wage an attack on our democracy and attack on the American people by trying to rob you of your voice in our democracy and in doing so lit the Fuze that led to the horrific violence of January six when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol, sent by Donald Trump to stop the transfer of power. Today, my colleague from California, Ms.. Lofgren, and our witnesses will detail the select committees findings on these matters.

But first, I will recognize our distinguished vice chair, Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Any opening statement she would care to offer. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Last week, as the chairman noted, our committee began outlining a seven part plan overseen by President Trump to overturn the 2020 election. Today, we will begin looking at the initial part of that plan. President Trump's effort to convince millions of Americans that the election was stolen from him by overwhelming fraud.

A federal court has already reviewed elements of the committee's evidence on this point and said this quote In the months following the election, numerous credible sources from the president's inner circle to agency leadership and statisticians informed President Trump and Dr. Eastman that there was no evidence of election fraud, close quote, sufficient to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The court's opinion methodically documents each of the principal reasons for that conclusion, and I would urge all those watching to read it.

Today, we will begin to show the American people some of our evidence. Today, you will hear much more from a former attorney general, Bill Barr, as recorded testimony. And you will hear in greater detail what others in the department told President Trump that his claims of election fraud were nonsense. You will also hear much more from President Trump's own campaign experts who had also concluded that his fraud claims could not be supported. Let me focus briefly on just three points now. 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 Hirschmann.

His view was shared by many of the Trump team whom we interviewed. I thought the Dominion stuff was. I never saw any evidence whatsoever to sustain those allegations. 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. Justice 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 among the staff, Mark Shaw, myself and Gregg Jacob, was that it was not sufficient to be outcome determinative. 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. Mr. Chairman, hundreds of our

countrymen have faced criminal charges. Many are serving criminal sentences because they believed what Donald Trump said about the election and they acted on it. They came to Washington, D.C., at his request.

They marched on the Capitol at his request, and hundreds of them besieged and invaded the building at the heart of our constitutional republic. As one conservative editorial board put it recently, quote, Mr. Trump betrayed his supporters by conning them on January 6th, and he is still doing it. Another conservative editorial board that has long supported President Trump said last week Donald Trump, quote, won't stop insisting that the 2020 that 2020 was stolen, even though he has offered no proof that that is true.

And this Donald Trump now, quote, clings to more fantastical theories such as Dinesh D'Souza as debunked 2000 mules, even as recounts in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin confirm Trump lost. Those are the correct conclusions to draw from the evidence gathered by this committee. We have much more evidence to show the American people on this point than we can reasonably show in one hearing.

But today we will begin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back. Without objection.

Without objection. The chair recognizes the old woman from California. Ms.. Lofgren. Fine. Opening statement.

Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. In our opening hearing, we gave an overview of our investigation into the January 6th attack. The plot to overthrow the election was complex and had many parts, which we'll explore in remaining hearings.

But today, we examine the false narrative that the 2020 election was, quote, stolen. Former President Trump's plan to overturn the election relied on a sustained effort to deceive millions of Americans with knowingly false claims of election fraud. All elements of the plot relied on convincing his supporters about these false claims.

Today will demonstrate the 2020 election was not stolen. The American people, elected President Joe Biden will present evidence that Mr. Trump's claims of election fraud were false, that he and his closest advisers knew those claims were false, but they continued to peddle them anyway. Right up until the moments before a mob of Trump supporters attacked, the Capitol will also show that the Trump campaign used these false claims of election fraud to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from supporters who were told their donations were for the legal fight in the courts. But the Trump campaign didn't use the money for that.

The Big Lie was also a big rip off. The former president laid the groundwork for these false claims well in advance of the election as early as April 2020. Mr. Trump claimed that the only way he could lose an election would be as a result of fraud. You know, the things with bundling and all of the things that are happening with votes by mail where thousands of votes are gathered.

And I'm not going to say which party does it, but thousands of votes are gathered and they come in and they're dumped in a location. And then all of a sudden you lose elections that you think you're going to win. The only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.

Remember that the only way we're going to lose this election, this is going to be a fraud like you've never seen. Did you see what's going on? Take a look at West Virginia mailman selling the ballots. They're being sold. They're being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country.

This is not is no, this is not going to end well. Mr. Trump decided even before the election that regardless of the facts and the truth, if he lost the election, he would claim it was rigged. Mr. Trump was right about one thing.

It did not end well. On election night, Mr. Trump claimed even before the votes were counted, that his loss was a result of fraud. Now, Thursday, we had testimony from Attorney General Barr about the Department of Justice investigation of Mr. Trump's fraud claims.

Barr told Trump directly that his claims were B.S.. Yet after hearing the truth and that warning from the AG, Mr. Trump continued to peddle the false claims of fraud. You'll hear detailed testimony from Attorney General Barr describing the various election fraud claims the Department of Justice investigated.

He'll tell you how he told Mr. Trump repeatedly that there was no merit to those claims. Mr. Barr will tell us that Mr. Trump's election night claims

of fraud were made without regard to the truth and before it was even possible to look for evidence of fraud. Attorney General Barr wasn't alone. You will see and hear today other Department of Justice officials and senior advisers to Mr. Trump that they told him the claims he was making were not supported by evidence. The election fraud claims were false. Mr. Trump's closest advisers

knew it. Mr. Trump knew it. That didn't stop him from pushing the false claims and urging his supporters to, quote, fight like hell, to, quote, take back their country after he lost the election. Various legal challenges were made.

You'll hear testimony today from a renowned Republican election litigation lawyer who explained the normal process by which candidates challenge an election rather than accept the results of the election and the decisions of the courts. Mr. Trump pursued a different strategy.

He tried to convince the American people the election had been stolen. Many of his supporters believed him, and many still believe him today. The attack on January 6th was a direct and predictable result of Mr. Trump's decision to use false claims of election fraud to overturn the election and to cling to power.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back. Thank you very much. I now welcome our first witness. We're joined today by former Fox News politics editor Chris Style.

What Bill Stepien, President Trump's former campaign manager, was subpoenaed to be here and was in Washington this morning prepared to testify. Kevin Marino, Mississippians attorney, is here with us today. Thank you, Mr. Marino, for coming.

And he was advised he has advised us that Mr. Stepien, his wife, went into labor this morning. Mr. Stepien unexpectedly had to travel to meet with his wife. And we wish him the best. Due to the depth and rigor of our investigation, with several hours of Mrs. Stephan's testimony from when we interviewed him in February, and we will be presenting that testimony today, I'll now sway in our witness.

The witness will please stand and raise his right hand. Do you swear or affirm on the penalty of perjury that the testimony you're about to give is a truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? I do. Thank you. You may be seated. Let the record reflect the witness answered in the affirmative. I now recognize myself for questions.

I want to start by showing a video that tells the story of what was going on in the Trump White House on election night in November of 2020. Do you remember where you were on the night of the election? November the third. I was at the White House. You know, where specifically over the course of that night you spent your time within the White House? There was an event that was organized in the residence, so I moved between. The residence, a room sort of off the residence where some family members were. I take it the president was upstairs in the residence? He was upstairs.

I was we were kind of on the first floor, so not upstairs with mostly with the vodka and her brothers and a couple other people who'd be coming in and out. Can you just describe the atmosphere? What were people expecting that night when you got to the White House? I think that there was typically for people who show up there on election night, it's going to be a self-select, more positive environment. I think people were a little bit nervous not knowing what was going to happen with the red wave or the red mirage as the debate was being carried out. The Fox News decision desk is calling Arizona for Joe Biden.

That is a big get for the Biden campaign. Arizona is called. Do you remember that? I do.

What do you remember happening where you were when Arizona was called? I. There was surprise at the call. Who is surprised.

Most, most everyone in the room with you being one of them. Yes. Did that shift the atmosphere or the attitude? In the White House completely. Casale. Can you describe that? Because Fox News was the first one to go out and say that.

They said was it anger kind of directed towards Fox News for making a call more so than a disappointment that maybe the campaign lost Arizona. All the above. To both anger and disappointment. But disappointed with Fox and concerned that maybe our data or our numbers weren't accurate. Were you in the White House residence during the sort of past midnight into the early morning hours of November 4th? Yes, I'm sure I went over beyond midnight. Yes.

Do you remember Rudy Giuliani. Being at the White. House on election night and into the early hours the next morning? I do. What do you remember about when he came? 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 come talk to several of us down off the map room. 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 directing your wife? I did. What was that conversation? A lot of conversations were directed in my way. A few of us myself, Jason Miller, Justin Clarke and Mark Meadows. Gathered in a room off the map room to listen to whatever Rudy presumably wanted to say to the president.

Was there anyone in that conversation who, in your observation, had had too much to drink? Mayor Giuliani. Tell me more about that. What was your observation about his potential intoxication during that that discussion about what the president should say when he addressed the nation on election night? In the mayor was definitely intoxicated, but I do not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president, for example, being 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. I mean, I spoke to the president. They may have been present, but the president spoke to the president several times that night. There are suggestions by, I believe it was Mayor Giuliani to go to declare victory and say that we won it outright.

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. I remember saying that. I confess to my memory and I was saying that we should not go declare victory until we had a better sense of the numbers. Okay. Can you be more specific about

that conversation, in particular what Mayor Giuliani said, your response, and then anybody else in the room? There's lots. I think effectively Mayor Giuliani was saying we want to. They're stealing it from us. Where all the votes come from.

We need to go say that we won. And. Essentially to anyone who didn't agree with that position was being weak. What was your view at the time as to what he should or shouldn't say? 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. My belief, my recommendation was to say that votes are still being counted. It's too early to tell. Too early to call the race.

But, you know, we are proud of the race we bought. We run. We ran. And we, you know. Think we're I think we're in good position.

And we'll have more to say about this in the next day or the next day, whatever. We had something to say. And did anybody who is a part of that conversation disagree with your message? Yes. Who is that? 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, going at it. And it was going to.

Going in a different direction. This is a. Fraud. On the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election.

Frankly, we. Did win this election. Mr. Stier, what did President Trump have any basis to declare victory on November 4th, 2020? Thank you.

Mrs. Stepien also testified that President Trump had no basis for declaring victory at that point in time. By my belief, my recommendation was to say that votes are still being counted. It's too early to tell. Too early to call the race.

But, you know, we are proud of the race we brought. 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 in the next day or the next day, whenever we had something to say. Thank you.

Mr.. Well, after the votes were counted, who won the presidential election of 2020? Joseph Robinette, Biden Jr. Of the great state of delaware. Thank you. That's the bottom line.

We had an election. Mr. trump lost, but he refused to accept the results of the democratic process pursuant to Section 5c8 of House Resolution 503. I now recognize the gentlewoman from California, Ms.. Lofgren.

Four questions. Well, thank. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Howard, I'd like you to explain

a turn that was thrown around a lot during the election, and that's the so-called red mirage. What does that mean? So. In the 40 or 50 years, let's say that Americans have increasingly chosen to vote by mail or early or absentee.

Democrats prefer that method of voting more than Republicans do. So basically, in every election, Republicans win Election Day and Democrats win the early vote. And then you wait and start counting. And it depends on which ones you count first. But usually it's Election Day votes that get counted first. And you see the Republicans shoot ahead. And then the process

of of baling and binding and unbinding, all those mail in votes. In some states like Pennsylvania, refused to count the votes first. So you have to wait for all of that to come in. So in every election and certainly a national election, you expect to see the Republican with a lead. But it's not really a lead when you put together a jigsaw puzzle.

It doesn't matter which piece you put in first, it ends up with the same image. So for us, who cares? But that's because no candidate had ever tried to avail themselves of this quirk in the election counting system. We had gone to pains, and I'm proud of the pains we went to to make sure that we were informing viewers that this was going to happen because the Trump campaign and the president had made it clear that they were going to try to exploit this anomaly.

And we knew it was going to be bigger because the percentage of early votes was higher. Right. We went from about 45% of the votes being early and absentee to because of the pandemic that increased by about 50%. So we knew it would be longer.

We knew it would be more. So we wanted to keep telling viewers, hey, look, the number that you see here is sort of irrelevant because it's only a small percentage. Of these votes. So this red mirage, that's really what you expected to happen on election night. Happens every time. Thank you, Mr. Stirewalt.

Now, I'd like to play a clip of Attorney General Bill Barr, who also explains what was expected to happen on election night. Right out of the box on election night. The president. Claimed that there was major fraud underway. I mean, this happened as far as I could tell, before there was actually any potential lying in evidence. And it seemed to be based on the dynamic that that at the end of the evening, a lot of Democratic votes came in, which changed the vote counts in certain states.

And that seemed to be the basis for this broad claim that there was major fraud. And I didn't think much of that because people had been talking for weeks and everyone understood for weeks that that was going to be what happened on election night. Mr. Stepien obviously could not

be with us today, and it's proper for him to be with his wife as they welcome their child. But he also had discussions with the president about the red mirage, that is, that it would be a long night and that early votes would favor him, but that lots more votes would be counted over the course of the night and the days after. So let's play clip one from our interview with Mr. Stepien.

I recounted back to that conversation with him in which I said, just like I said, in 2016 was going to be a long night. I told him in 2020 that, you know, there it was going to be a process. Again, as you know, the early returns are going to be positive and we're going to be watching the returns of ballots as they rolled in thereafter. So is it fair to say you're trying to present what you thought would be a realistic picture of what might happen over the course of that night, being election night, that night, in the days that followed? Yeah, I, I, I always I always, you know, I always told the president the truth. And, you know, I, you know, I think he expected that from me. And I told him it was going to be a process.

It was going to be, you know, you know, we had to wait and see how this turned out. So I just like I did in 2016, I did the same thing in 2020. So let's watch a short clip of President Trump speaking after he received that information from his campaign advisers. We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at 4:00 in the morning and add them to the list. So when former President Trump said that, it contradicted what his advisers had warned would happen.

We all know that mail in ballots played an important role in the 2020 election. However, President Trump continuously discouraged mail in voting. Mr. Stepien was so concerned about the president's position on mail in voting that in the summer of 2020, he met with President Trump, along with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Let's play a clip for.

Meeting that was had in particular, I invited Kevin McCarthy to join the meeting. He being of like mind on the issue with me in which we made our case. Four. Four. Why?

We believed mail in balloting, mail in voting. Not to be a bad thing for his campaign. But the president's mind was made up and he understands. You know, how many times do you know? Go to the well on a particular topic.

Yeah, I understand. Tell me a little bit more about the argument that you and Mr. McCarthy made to the president in that meeting as to why it wasn't a bad thing that mail in voting was available. Largely two pillars to that argument, both of which I've previously mentioned.

One, leaving a good deal to chance. Pushing or urging your voters to vote only on Election Day leaves a lot to chance. That's that's A and B.

Also previously mentioned the fact that the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee, the Republican Party, had an advantage of grassroots workers and volunteers on the grounds that would allow an advantage to enhance return rates of ballots that were mailed. Those are the two pillars of the argument I see. And what, if anything, do you recall Representative McCarthy saying during that meeting? We were we were echoing the same argument. I mean, his his words echoed mine and vice versa on those on those two topics. Mr. Star. Well, you were at the

decision deaths at Fox News on election night and you called Arizona early for President Biden, which was controversial. How did you make that call and where did you think the race stood in the early hours of the next day? Well, it was really controversial to our competitors who we beat so badly by making the correct call first. Our decision to ask was the best in the business, and I was very proud to be a part of it because we had a we had partnered with the Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Thanks to my colleague and friend Arne in Michigan had built a wonderful device for forecasting the outcomes of elections.

So we had a different set of data than our competitors did. We had more research and we had a better system and we had a great team. So what you're waiting to see is do the actual votes match up with the expectations in the poll? The real votes are testing the quality of your poll in targeted precincts and in targeted places. And let me tell you, our poll in Arizona was beautiful and it was doing just what we wanted it to do.

And it was cooking up just right. And at some point and I forget exactly who, but at some point, it became clear that Arizona was getting ready to make a call. So we around you know, my boss, Bill Sammon, said we're not making any call until everybody says yes, because that was always our policy unanimous entity.

And you have to understand in this room, you have, you know, the best people from academia, Democrats, Republicans, a broad cross-section of people who had worked together for a decade who are really serious about this stuff. So we knew it would be a consequential call because it was one of five states that really mattered. Right. Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona were the ones that we were watching. We knew it would be. Significant to call any one of those five, but we already knew Trump's chances were very small and getting smaller based on what we had seen. So we were able to make the call early.

We were able to beat the competition. We looked around the room. Everybody says, Yay! And on we go.

And by the time we found out how much everybody was freaking out and losing their minds over this call we were already trying to call the next day. We had already moved on. We were in Georgia. We were to North Carolina.

We were looking at these other states. So we thought it was we were pleased, but not surprised. I see. You know, after the election, as of November 7th, in your judgment, what were the chances of President Trump winning the election.

After that point? Yes, none. I mean, I guess you could. It's always possible that you could have, you know, a truckload of ballots be found somewhere, I suppose. But once you get into this space, you know, ahead of today, I thought about what are the largest margins that could ever be overturned by a recount and the normal kind of the kind of stuff that we heard Mike Pence talking about, sounding like a normal Republican that night when he said, you know, we'll keep every challenge. Nothing like that in a recount.

You're talking about hundreds of votes. When we think about calling a race, one of the things that we would think about is, is it outside the margin of a recount? And when we think about that margin, we think about in modern history, you're talking about a thousand votes, 1500 votes at the way, way outside. Normally, you're talking about hundreds of votes, maybe 300 votes that are going to change. So the idea that through any normal process in any of these states, remember, he had to do it thrice. Right? He needed three of these states to change. And in order to do that, I mean, you're right, you're at an infant. You're better off to play

the Powerball than to have that come in. On November seven. The other major news outlets called the Race for President Biden. Now, Mr. Stepien told the committee that he thought the odds were and this is a, quote, very, very, very bleak. And held a meeting with the president that same day.

Let's show clip eight. Video clip eight. With each day that we're on. I mean, the trajectory of the race on election night.

Trump ahead in many states and as as that week wore on as the third became the fourth became the fifth and so on and so forth. And the vote by mail ballots were tabulated. You know, Trump's Trump's lead, you know, grew more narrow. And in some places, Biden surpassed, you know, Trump in the vote totals.

So as the week wore on, as we paid attention to those numbers every single multiple times a day, you know, internally, you know, I, I was feeling less confident for sure. What was your view on the state of the election at that point? Yeah. Very, very, very bleak. You know, I. We told him the group that went over there outlined my belief and chances for success at this point.

And and then we pegged it at at five, maybe, maybe 10% based on recounts that were that that either were automatically initiated or could be could be initiated based on, you know, realistic legal challenges, not all the legal challenges that eventually were pursued. But, you know, it was a you know. My belief is that it was a very, very I mean, 5 to 10% is not a very good, optimistic outlook. Now as President Trump and others continue to claim that the election was stolen, there were lawyers who were part of the campaign, campaign lawyers who were responsible for investigating the fraud claims. That includes Alex Cannon, who could not validate the claims that were being made, including those being made by the president.

Let's roll video. 15. This is an email. It's two emails, actually. The first is from Alex Cannon to you and Faith McPherson and then you forward that email on to Mark Meadows, Justin Clarke and Jason Miller.

The subject being easy federal ID voters. If you look at that original email there said, Bill, we completed. The. AC analysis you requested. I assume that's about Arizona. And because of the and the substantial uncertainty surrounding the databases, this is a highly unreliable way to identify ineligible voters.

Can you explain the task that you gave to Ms.. Cannon for this Arizona analysis? Sure. Previously I described some of my frustration with. Some of the claims that people would throw up President Trump regarding, you know, you know, you need to look at this. You know, this happened in this state or that happened in that state. And it would be you know, those would flow to us to look into.

I'd talk about that before. I think, you know, this is an example of that. I recall I recall in Arizona, someone had thrown out I believe this to be the claim that there were thousands of.

Illegal citizens. People not eligible to vote having cast their ballots in Arizona. Someone has thrown out that claim to President Trump and with the margins being as close as they were, as I previously described, you know. That could potentially matter. So this wild claim is thrown out, which, you know, on its face didn't seem, you know, realistic or possible to me. I asked Alex to look at the you know, the claim, and I haven't read this spot for email, but I recall the response to that.

The reality of that was not illegal citizens voting in the election. I think it was like overseas voters voting in the election. So obviously you have people who are eligible to vote.

When these findings were passed up the chain to President Trump, he became frustrated and he replaced the campaign's legal team. Let's play clip 14. You know, I think the president it was during the second week where things like you displayed were occurring, where he was, you know, growing increasingly unhappy with his team, you know, me less so because I was less involved at this point, but still me growing increasingly unhappy with Justin Clark and that kind of, you know, you know, paved the way for, you know, Justin to be moved out and Mayor Giuliani to be moved in as the person in charge of, you know, the legal side of the campaign and for all intents and purposes, the campaign at that point. Now, when Mr. Stepien

became campaign manager, he was the second Trump campaign manager for the 2020 race, and there were only about 115 days until Election Day. So let's play the video. I inherited a campaign.

That was the day I was hired was President Trump's low point in the 2020 daily average polling against President Biden. It was it was a campaign at a low point in the polls. It was structurally and fiscally deficient.

You know, I you know, there was a great deal wrong with the campaign in both of those in both of those areas. So most of my day spent fixing what I think I took over was 115 days left in the campaign. Most of my time was spent fixing the things that could be fixed with 115 days left in the campaign. Stepien has been in the campaign field for a long time, and he worked for lots of different candidates in campaigns. He testified to this committee about his concerns, given the claims that Mr.

Giuliani and Mrs. Powell and their team were making publicly. Let's play a clip. 15. Okay. And was it important for you, Mr. Stepien, to sort of pull back

just for your own professional reputation? You didn't want to be associated with some of what you were hearing from the Giuliani team and others that that sort of stepped in in the wake of your departure. I didn't mind being categorized. There were two groups of them. We called them kind of my team and Rudy's team.

I didn't mind being characterized as being part of team normal as as reporters kind of started to do around that point in time. You know, I said, you know, hours ago early on that, you know, I've been doing this for a long time, 25 years, and I've spanned, you know, political ideologies from Trump to McCain to Bush to Christie, you know. And, you know, I can work under a lot of circumstances for a lot of varied, you know, candidates and politicians, but situation where. And I think along the way, I've built up a pretty good hope, a good reputation for being honest and professional. And I didn't think what was happening was necessarily honest or professional at that point in time. So that that led to

me stepping away. So the president did get rid of Team Normal. And I'd like to play a clip showing that the president found the people he needed to perpetuate his claims of fraud. They saw a big truck bringing in 100,000 ballots in garbage cans, in wastepaper basket, in cardboard boxes and in shopping baskets.

And every single one of them was provided because they were being notified by Smartmatic in Frankfurt that Biden was way behind. And they better come up with a lot more ballots. And we can prove every single thing I just said. If you gave me the paper ballots, I could probably turn around each one of these state. I'm absolutely convinced if you if you let me examine each one of those ballots, I pull out enough that were fraudulent, that it would shake the hell out of the country. It can set and run an algorithm that probably ran all over the country to take a certain percentage of.

Votes from President. Trump and flip them to President Biden, which we might never have uncovered, had the votes for President Trump not been so overwhelming in so many of these states that it broke the algorithm. I remember that one of the things Mark said at some point was you can't show an actual vote was flipped, which I found at the time to be a remarkable assertion because. Because you don't have to have the gun to see the body lying on the floor, bleeding out with bullet holes in it was killed by a gun. What they were proposing. I thought was nuts.

You know, the theory was also completely nuts. Right. And it was a combination of Italians and Germans. I mean, different things have been floating around as to who was involved. And were you a Chavez and a Venezuelan? She has an affidavit from somebody who says they wrote a software in something with the Philippines in it just all over the radar. Did you ever share, Mr. Kushner,

your view of Mr. Giuliani? Did you ever share your perspective about him with the president? I guess. Yes. Tell me what you said.

A basically not the approach I would take if I was you. Okay. And how did he react? How did President Trump react when you shared that view with him? I said, you know, I, I have confidence in Rudy. I think I had conversations with probably all of our counsel who are signed up to assist on Election Day as they disengaged with the campaign. The general consensus was that the law firms were not comfortable making the arguments that Rudy Giuliani was making publicly.

I seem to recall that I had a similar conversation with most all of them. I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit. And, you know, I didn't want to be a part of it. And that's one of the reasons that went into me deciding to leave when I did.

Even Sidney Powell, defending herself in a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion voting systems, argued that, quote, No reasonable person would conclude that her statements were truly statements of fact. Mr. Chairman, I yield back. I thank the witness for joining us today. The first panel is now dismissed. We've been listening to the first portion of today's hearing by the House. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California.

Ms.. Lofgren. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Last week we presented the testimony of former Attorney General Bill Barr, who testified before this committee. Today, we present additional evidence, including his testimony that former President Trump started making claims of election fraud immediately after the election and that Barr concluded the claims were untrue. Now, due to the length of Attorney General Barr's testimony, we're only going to include relevant portions at the hearing today.

So let us play the video. The Department, in fact, when we received specific and credible allegations of fraud, made an effort to look into these to satisfy ourselves that they were without merit. And I was in the posture of trying to figure out there was an avalanche of all these allegations of fraud that built up over a number of days. And it was like playing whack a mole because something would come out one day and then the next day it would be another issue.

Also, I was influenced by the fact that all the early claims that I understood or were completely bogus and silly and usually based on complete misinformation. And so I didn't consider the quality of claims right out of the box to give me any, you know, feeling that there was really substance here. For the for the first time since the election, the attorney general spoke personally with the president on November 23rd, and this was at the White House. Let's play the video, please.

So on November 23rd, I hadn't spoken to the president since the election. And in fact, as I said, since the middle of October, roughly, and it was a little getting awkward because obviously he had lost the election and I hadn't said anything to him. And so Cipollone, he said, you know, I think it's time you come over here.

And so I came over to meet with the president in the Oval Office, and Meadows and Cipollone were there. And the president and this is leading up to this conversation with Kushner. The president said there had been major fraud and that as soon as the facts were out, the results of the election would be reversed. And he went on on this for quite a while, as he is prone to do. And then he got to something that I was expecting, which is to say that apparently the Department of Justice doesn't think that it has a role of looking into these fraud claims. So I said, you know, that has to be the campaign that raises that with the State Department doesn't take sides in elections.

And the department, it's not an extension of your legal team. And our role is to investigate fraud. And we'll look at something if it's if it's specific, credible and could have affected the outcome of the election. And and we're doing that. And it's just not they're not they're just not meritorious.

They're not panning out. And as I walked out of the Oval Office, Jared was there with Dan Scavino, who ran his round the president's social media and who I thought was a reasonable guy and believe is a reasonable guy. And I said, how long is how long is he going to carry on with this stolen election stuff? Where is this going to go? And by that time, Meadows had caught up with me and leaving the office and caught up to me and said that he said, look, I think that he's becoming more realistic and knows that there's a limit to how far he can take this. And then Jared said, you know, yeah, we're working on this. We're working on it. Even after his attorney general told him his claims of election fraud were false, President Trump continued to promote these claims.

I felt that things continued to deteriorate between the 23rd and the weekend of the 29th. And then on November 29th, he appeared on Maria BARTIROMO show Sunday Futures, I believe it was. And he said that the department was missing in action.

Well, no, we had. Glitches where they moved thousands of votes from my account to Biden's account. And these are glitches. So they're not glitches.

They're theft. They're fraud. Absolute fraud. This election was over and then they did dumps. They call them dumps, big, massive dumps in Michigan and Pennsylvania and all over. How the FBI and Department of.

Justice, I don't know, maybe they're involved, but how people are allowed to get away from this with this stuff is unbelievable. Now, spurred by what he saw, Barr told the Associated Press on December 1st that there was no evidence of election fraud. And immediately after Attorney General Barr's statement went public, Mr. Trump berated and he nearly fired Barr that Barr persisted in telling the president that there was no evidence to support the fraud claims.

This got under my skin. But I also felt it was time for me to say something. So I had.

So I set up a lunch with the

2022-06-20 15:20

Show Video

Other news