Rep. Adam Schiff said Tuesday that former President Trump and his inner circle likely violated ‘multiple federal laws’ in their ‘pressure campaign’ to convince states to individually recount or overturn their election results – including Georgia and Arizona.
The committee is hearing from officials in those states during day four of the publicly televised Jan. 6 hearings.
The televised proceedings featured live testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his office’s Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and former Georgia election worker Wandrea ArShaye ‘Shaye’ Moss.
Bowers was first up to the microphone, where he dispelled former President Trump’s statement criticizing him released just ahead of the hearing.
‘Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers is the latest RINO to play along with the Unselect Committee,’ Trump wrote in an emailed statement just ahead of the hearing’s 1 pm start time.
‘In November 2020, Bowers thanked me for getting him elected. He said he would have lost, and in fact expected to lose, if I hadn’t come along. During the conversation, he told me that the election was rigged and that I won Arizona,’ Trump continued.
‘He said he got more votes than I did which could never have happened. In fact, he said without me, he would have been out of office, and he expected to be prior to my coming along, and big Arizona rallies. The night before the election he walked outside with his wife and saw the tremendous Trump enthusiasm and told her, ‘You know what? Maybe I will win after all’—and he did. Bowers should hope there’s not a tape of the conversation.’
Bowers said he did speak to the president, but he never said that it was ‘not true’ that he ever said the election was rigged or told the president that he won Arizona.
Bowers also said that he received a call from the former president’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani shortly after the election telling him they had evidence that hundreds of thousands votes had been cast from illegal immigrants and thousands of ballots had been turned in from dead people.
‘I asked, ‘Do you have names?’ he said ‘yes.’ I said, ‘Can you give them to me? He said ‘yes.’ Trump then interrupted and said ‘Give the man what he needs, Rudy.
Bowers said Giuliani never did send him the evidence. He said that after repeatedly pressing the former New York mayor for evidence, Giuliani told him: ‘We’ve got lots of theories we just don’t have the evidence.’
‘I don’t know if that was a gaffe or he didn’t think through what he said,’ Bowers said.
Bowers then said that Trump and Giuliani asked him to convene a formal legislative hearing to present evidence of fraud and work toward replacing President Biden’s electors.
‘You are asking me to do something that’s counter to my oath,’ Bowers said he told Trump. ‘You are asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath.’
‘I didn’t want to be used as a pawn,’ he added.
Bowers also said that attorney John Eastman pressured him to decertify Biden’s electors, as did Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., on Jan. 6.
‘I said, ‘What would you have me do?’ Bowers said of his phone call with Eastman.’ He said, ‘Just do it and let the court sort it out.’
‘This pressure campaign brought angry phone calls and texts, armed protests, intimidation, and, all too often, threats of violence and death. State legislators were singled out. So too were statewide elections officials,’ Schiff, D-Calif., argued.
‘As we will show, the president’s supporters heard the former president’s claims of fraud and the false he made against state and local officials as a call to action.’
Meanwhile Jan. 6 committee Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney backed up Schiff’s claims that Trump should be held criminally responsible. ‘Each of these efforts to overturn the election is independently serious. Each deserves attention both by Congress and by the Department of Justice,’ she said.
‘This pressure campaign brought angry phone calls and texts, armed protests, intimidation, and, all too often, threats of violence and death. State legislators were singled out. So too were statewide elections officials,’ Rep. Adam Schiff claimed
Arizona state House speaker Rusty Bowers, left, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, center, and chief operating officer for the Georgia secretary of state Gabriel Sterling ahead of the hearing
Bill Barr says he told Trump his fraud election claims in Georgia were ‘bulls***’
The committee also replayed footage from former Attorney General Bill Barr’s testimony where admitted that Donald Trump’s that there was funny business in the vote count in Fulton, Georgia had ‘no merit.’
‘I told him that the stuff that his people were shoveling out to the public was bulls***. I mean that the claims of raud were bull***,’ he said in pre-recorded testimony with January 6 investigators played at the fourth public hearing on Tuesday.
In a separate part of the interview, Barr said ‘Based on our review of it, including interviews of the key witnesses, the Fulton County had no merit.’
‘The ballots under the table were legitimate ballots, they weren’t in a suitcase, they had been pre-opened for eventually feeding into the machine,’ Barr added.
Raffensperger will take center stage in the hearing Tuesday as he was one of the GOP targets of the Trump team’s efforts to get red states to name ‘fake electors’ to derail Biden’s Electoral College victory. The goal was for Vice President Mike Pence to accept these alternative electors on January 6, 2021 so Trump could declare victory.
Trump also infamously called Raffensperger on January 2, 2021 – just days before the Capitol riot and election certification – to pressure him to ‘find 11,780 votes’ to help him overcome Biden’s lead in the Peach State.
The former president sought to retaliate against Raffensperger by backing Georgia Republican Representative Jody Hice in the primary race against him for secretary of state this year – but Raffensperger easily overcame the challenge.
Bowers also received a call in late November 2020 from Trump and his attorney at the time Rudy Giuliani where they informed him that Arizona had a new law that would allow its legislature to pick which presidential electors it wanted to send to Congress for certification, according to the Arizona Republic.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (pictured May 24, 2022) will take center stage at the January 6 select committee’s fourth public hearing on Tuesday afternoon to prove the pressure Donald Trump put on GOP state officials in his ‘plot’ to overturn the 2020 election
The panel’s Tuesday hearing will focus on Trump’s attempts to get contested states to appoint their own electors and to have Vice President Mike Pence accept those votes over the Electoral College results
The GOP Arizona lawmaker, who is a Trump supporter, told the paper that he asked for proof of this law he never heard of, but never received it.
Bowers was also pressured by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife Ginni Thomas, who is a conservative activist, to decertify Biden’s victory in the state.
Panel member Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, will lead Thursday’s proceedings.
Excerpts from his opening statement show that the panel will seek to prove that ‘anyone who got in the way of Donald Trump’s continued hold on power after he lost the election was the subject of a dangerous and escalating campaign of pressure.’
‘This pressure campaign brought angry phone calls and texts, armed protests, intimidation, and, all too often, threats of violence and death,’ he will say. ‘State legislators were singled out. So too were statewide elections officials. Even local elections workers, diligently doing their jobs, were accused of being criminals, and had their lives turned upside down.’
‘As we will show, the president’s supporters heard the former president’s claims of fraud, and the false call he made against state and local officials, as a call to action.’
Both Arizona and Georgia are swing states that flipped from red for Trump in 2016 to blue for Joe Biden in 2020. Biden, however, only won those states by extremely slim margins – 0.4 percent in Arizona and 0.3 percent in Georgia.
The small victory margins led Trump, in part, to claim that the election was rigged and stolen by a Democratic plot to deploy thousands of fake mail-in ballots to get Biden to win the swing states that launched him to the presidency in 2016.
Tuesday’s witness Moss, along with her mother Ruby Freeman, were accused by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani of ‘rigging’ the presidential election count in Georgia. The two, according to Trump and his allies, allegedly brought in ‘suitcases’ full of ballots for Biden.
Trump (pictured June 17, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee) infamously called Raffensperger on January 2, 2021 to pressure him to ‘find 11,780 votes’ to help him overcome Biden’s lead in Georgia
The former Georgia election official and her mother are now suing Giuliani in federal court after receiving death threats when Trump publicly named them and following an investigation in the state that found no wrongdoing by the pair.
The Democratic-led panel’s focus on Tuesday follows three other hearings this month that centered on proving Trump was aware that he lost the 2020 presidential election but still pushed the ‘Big Lie’ that he was the victor, as well as the pressure campaign on Pence to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results.
Pence’s refusal to give into Trump’s plot for him to deny the results from Congress and accept the alternative electors on January 6, 2021 stopped the former president from declaring victory in an election he lost.
After Tuesday’s hearing there could be as many as four more as the select committee aims to quickly finish its case against Trump before the 2022 midterm elections, which is likely to see the House flip red.