Jan. 6 Hearing Day 3: Do the Right Thing- Trump’s pressure campaign on Pence. Trump’s 12-page statement rejects Jan. 6 hearings, floats new fraud conspiracies.
Jan. 6 Hearing Day 3: Do the Right Thing
The third televised hearing of the select committee investigating Jan. 6 today is focused on Trump’s pressure campaign on his VP Mike Pence. Starting in mid-December, 2020, John Eastman, a legal scholar consulting for Trump, tried to convince Pence to refuse to certify the results of the 2020 election by rejecting electors from various states.
Multiple people in Pence’s office, legal counsel, constitutional scholars, and even fellow Indiana Republican and former Vice President Dan Quayle all made it clear to Pence that he had no constitutional authority to unilaterally reject electors. Pence consistently made it clear to Trump and anyone who would listen that he had no intention of doing so.
“Hang Mike Pence”
Despite Pence’s repeated rejection of the scheme, and even Eastman’s own admission that it would not pass constitutional muster, Trump and his team maintained a very public pressure campaign on Pence to “do the right thing” and overturn the election. During his Jan. 6 rally, Trump repeated his wish that Pence should reject the electors.
Shortly thereafter, news broke that Pence would not be rejecting the electors and that the Congressional certification of the election would proceed as normal. By then, Trump’s angry supporters were already marching towards the Capitol. Once outside, they set up a fake gallows outside and began chanting “Bring out Pence” then “Hang Mike Pence”. At the same time, former White House aids testify that Trump said “maybe our supporters have the right idea”, and that Pence “deserved it”.
Around this time Trump tweeted: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”.
When the protesters breached the Capitol, the Secret Service quickly spirited Pence and his family to safety. From there, it was Pence, not Trump, who ordered the National Guard to come to the aid of the overwhelmed Capitol Police. A final irony as the man who didn’t want to choose the president found himself forced to assume a presidential power in a crisis.
Trump issues 12-page statement rejecting Jan. 6 hearings
Yesterday, former President Trump released a 12-page statement attempting to undermine the ongoing Jan. 6 hearings. He also resurrects old (debunked) claims about a widespread conspiracy to steal the 2020 election, and recites some new ones.
Trump attempts to paint the committee as a purely partisan political hit job. He complains that the committee “have refused to
allow their political opponents to participate in this process, and have excluded all exculpatory witnesses, and anyone who so easily points out the flaws in their story”.
What Trump doesn’t say is that it was Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell who rejected an independent bipartisan Congressional inquiry (like the 9/11 Commission). House Republican leader McCarthy subsequently refused to appoint any Republicans to the current commission after Nancy Pelosi rejected his selection of Rep. Jim Jordan and other GOP Reps. who had supported the effort to overturn the election. Despite this, there are two Republicans on the committee.
Furthermore, numerous staunch pro-Trump witnesses, including Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, have refused to answer subpoenas to testify before the committee. Several pro-Trump Congressmen have also refused requests from the committee to testify. In any case, most of those who have appeared before the committee are themselves Republicans and many of them are Trump’s own staffers or prominent members of his administration.
The statement rehashes several of Trump’s pre-Jan. 6 conspiracy theories about a stolen election. All of these were debunked at the time, by members of Trump’s own Justice Department. During Monday’s hearing, former DOJ official Richard Donoghue described explaining to Trump that there was no evidence to support any of his innumerable conspiracy theories. Each time Donoghue would knock down one theory, Trump would present him with another, and another, and another.
In that spirit, Trump spends about 4 of the 12 pages detailing newer conspiracy fodder from Dinesh D’Souza’s May 2022 film “2000 mules”. In the film, researchers use cell phone tracking data to flag anyone who passed by or spent any time within 100 feet of a ballot box and who was also at any other time within 100 feet of any left-leaning political organization. Building on this flimsy premise, the researchers further assume that each of those people stuffed a certain number of “illegal” ballots in the boxes. Ultimately, they allege that hundreds of thousands of ballots were illegally stuffed into the boxes, thus swinging the election.
During his video deposition for the Jan. 6 hearings, Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr described the film’s claims as “singularly unimpressive”.
“If you take 2 million cell phones and figure out where they are physically in a big city like Atlanta or wherever,” Barr said, “just by definition, you will find many hundreds of them have passed by and spent time in the vicinity of these boxes”. Barr explains that one trucking firm said that a single one of its trucks would account for six cell phone signals near one drop box or another.
There is much more, but these are the most relevant points. I encourage you to read the statement in full for yourself.
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