Jan. 6 panel to hear of Trump’s pressure on Justice Department

The Jan. 6 committee will hear from former Justice Department officials who faced down a relentless pressure campaign from Donald Trump over the 2020 presidential election results while suppressing a bizarre challenge from within their own ranks.

The hearing Thursday will bring attention to a memorably turbulent stretch at the department as Trump in his final days in office sought to bend to his will a law enforcement agency that has long cherished its independence from the White House. The testimony is aimed at showing how Trump not only relied on outside advisers to press his false claims of election fraud but also tried to leverage the powers of federal executive branch agencies.

The witnesses will include Jeffrey Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. Three days earlier, Rosen was part of a tense Oval Office showdown in which Trump contemplated replacing him with a lower-level official, Jeffrey Clark, who wanted to champion Trump’s bogus election fraud claims.

Barely an hour before the hearing began, it was revealed that federal agents this week searched Clark’s Virginia home, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney confirmed the existence of law enforcement activity in Virginia, where Clark lives, but would not say what it was connected to.

Source: AP News

Jan 6 panel to hear from Raffensperger, others Trump pushed

The House 1/6 committee is set to hear from the caretakers of American democracy — elections workers and local officials — who fended off Donald Trump’s pressure to overturn the 2020 presidential election, at times despite frightening personal attacks.

The hearings investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol resume Tuesday with a focus on Trump’s relentless effort to undo Joe Biden’s victory in the most local way — by leaning on officials in key battleground states to reject ballots outright or to submit alternative electors for the final tally in Congress. The pressure was fueled by the defeated president’s false claims of voter fraud which, the panel says, led directly to the riot at the Capitol.

Embattled Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is scheduled to testify about Trump’s phone call asking him to “find 11,780” votes that could flip the state to prevent Biden’s election victory.

Raffensperger, with his deputy Gabe Sterling and Arizona’s Republican state House Speaker Rusty Bowers, are scheduled to be key witnesses, along with Wandrea “Shay” Moss, a former Georgia election worker who, with her mother, have said they faced such severe public harassment from Trump allies they felt unable to live normal lives.

“I’m appalled at what I saw,” Bowers said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press after arriving in Washington. “I think it illuminates something we need to see big time, and take stock of ourselves. And I hope it would sober us.”

The public hearing, the fourth by the panel this month, stems from its yearlong investigation into Trump’s unprecedented attempt to remain in power, a sprawling scheme that the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee has likened to an “attempted coup.”

Tuesday’s focus will review how Trump was repeatedly told his pressure campaign could potentially cause violence against the local officials and their families but pursued it anyway, according to a select committee aide. And it will underscore that fallout from Trump’s lies continues to this day, with elections officers facing ongoing public harassment and political challengers trying to take over their jobs.

While the committee cannot charge Trump with any crimes, the Justice Department is watching the panel’s work closely. Trump’s actions in Georgia are also the subject of a grand jury investigation, with the district attorney expected to announce findings this year.

“We will show during a hearing what the president’s role was in trying to get states to name alternate slates of electors, how that scheme depended initially on hopes that the legislatures would reconvene and bless it,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

Schiff, who will lead much of Tuesday’s session, said the hearing will also dig into the “intimate role” the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had in the plot to pressure Georgia state legislators and elections officials.

Raffensperger, Georgia’s top election official, rebuffed Trump’s request that he “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in the state — a request caught on tape during a phone call days before the Jan. 6 attack.

During the call, Trump repeatedly cited disproven claims of fraud and raised the prospect of a “criminal offense” if Georgia officials did not change the vote count. The state had counted its votes three times before certifying Biden’s win by a 11,779 margin.

The public testimony from Raffensperger comes weeks after he appeared before a special grand jury in Georgia investigating whether Trump and others illegally tried to intervene in the state’s 2020 election, and after Raffensperger beat a Trump-backed challenger in last month’s primary election.

Sterling, Raffensperger’s chief operating officer, became a notable figure in Georgia’s long post-election counting, and recounting, of the presidential ballots, with his regular updates often broadcast live to a divided nation. At one point, the soft-spoken Republican implored Americans to tone down the heated rhetoric.

“Death threats, physical threats, intimidation — it’s too much, it’s not right,” he said.

Bowers is expected to discuss the pressure he faced to overturn Arizona’s results — requests from Trump advisers that the Republican state leader on Monday called “juvenile.”

In an interview with the AP after arriving in Washington ahead of the hearing, Bowers said he is expected to be asked about a call with Trump during which lawyer Rudy Giuliani floated an idea to replace Arizona’s electors with those who would vote for Trump.

Bowers also revealed a second phone call with Trump in December 2020 that he said was mainly small talk, although Trump also referenced their first conversation.

Moss, who had worked for the Fulton County elections department since 2012, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, a temporary election worker, filed a defamation lawsuit in December 2021. Moss claimed conservative outlet One America News Network and Giuliani falsely spread allegations that she and her mother engaged in ballot fraud during the election. The case against OAN has since been dismissed with a settlement.

Both Bowers and Moss, along with Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the panel’s vice chair, were among recipients of this year’s John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage award “for their courage to protect and defend democracy.”

The select committee also plans to untangle the elaborate “fake electors” scheme that sought to have representatives in as many as seven battlegrounds — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico — sign certificates falsely stating that Trump, not Biden, had won their states.

Conservative law professor John Eastman, a lawyer for Trump, pushed the fake electors in the weeks after the election. Trump and Eastman convened hundreds of electors on a call on Jan. 2, 2021, encouraging them to send alternative slates from their states where Trump’s team was claiming fraud.

The fake electors idea was designed to set up a challenge on Jan. 6, 2021 when Congress met in joint session, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding over what is typically a ceremonial role to accept the states’ vote tallies. But the effort collapsed, as Pence refused Trump’s repeated demands that he simply halt the certification of Biden’s win — a power he believed he did not possess in his purely ceremonial role.

At least 20 people in connection with the fake electors scheme were subpoenaed by the House panel. The committee says it will also show that it has gathered enough evidence through its more than 1,000 interviews and tens of thousands of documents to connect the varying efforts to overturn the election directly to Trump.

Source: WBAL

Live Updates: Day 2 of the Jan. 6 Panel Hearings Begins on Trump’s ‘Big Lie’

ONFIRE-TV.COM – The US House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol resumes its hearings on Monday following last Thursday’s primetime review of several of their findings.

According to The Associated Press, former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt and a slew of election officials, investigators and experts are set to testify. Former president Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien, who was set to testify on Monday, will be unable to testify due to a family emergency, per ABC News. Additional committee hearings are set for later in the week.

1/6 panel: Told repeatedly he lost, Trump refused to go

Donald Trump was told the same thing over and over, by his campaign team, the data crunchers, and a steady stream of lawyers, investigators and inner-circle allies: There was no voting fraud that could have tipped the 2020 presidential election.

But in the eight weeks after losing to Joe Biden, the defeated Trump publicly, privately and relentlessly pushed his false claims of a rigged 2020 election and intensified an extraordinary scheme to overturn Biden’s victory. When all else failed in his effort to stay in power, Trump beckoned thousands of his supporters to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, where extremists groups led the deadly Capitol siege.

The scale and virulence of that scheme began to take shape at the opening House hearing investigating 1/6. When the panel resumes Monday, it will delve into its findings that Trump and his advisers knew early on that he had in fact lost the election but engaged in a “massive effort” to spread false information to convince the public otherwise.

Source: AP News

Fox News Channel Won’t Carry Coverage of January 6th Hearings

Prime-time Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday mocked critics of the network who have this week expressed outrage that the conservative media company will not carry live coverage of the first hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol live on its main cable channel.

“They’re all upset that Fox’s isn’t covering it live,” Ingraham said on her show. “We actually do something called, ya know, cater to our audience. Our audience knows what this is. We’ll cover it, and we’ll do plenty of coverage … but it’s the theater, total theater.” 

Fox earlier this week announced it would provide coverage of the hearing on six of its eight platforms, including live continuous coverage on Fox Business Network and on its streaming platforms. It will also make its live coverage available for its various local affiliate stations throughout the country.

But the top-rated network will not preempt its prime-time lineup of opinion shows on its primary Fox New Channel, each of which draws millions of viewers a night and dwarfs the audiences of competing networks and Fox’s the other platforms.

Source: The Hill

Uvalde ISD police chief sworn in as city council member

Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was sworn in as a city council member Tuesday night.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said members were sworn in per the city’s charter.

“Out of respect for the families who buried their children today, and who are planning to bury their children in the next few days, no ceremony was held,” he said in a statement obtained by ABC News Austin affiliate KVUE-TV.

“Our parents deserve answers and I trust the Texas Department of Public Safety/Texas Rangers will leave no stone unturned,” McLaughlin continued. “Our emotions are raw, and hearts are broken, and words are sometimes exchanged because of those emotions.”

“I want Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to know that I misunderstood statements I thought he said. We both attended the same law enforcement briefing. We appreciate the concern Dan Patrick has for the citizens of Uvalde and local law enforcement,” the mayor added. “I ask everyone to pray for us, the citizens of Uvalde as we grieve, and live through the pain, and the healing process.”

The ceremony comes exactly one week since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

The first funerals for two of the victims, both 10, took place on Tuesday.

Multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News Tuesday that the Uvalde Police Department and the Uvalde Independent School District police force are no longer cooperating with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s investigation into the massacre and the state’s review of the law enforcement response.

The Uvalde police chief and a spokesperson for the Uvalde Independent School District did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News regarding their cooperation with the investigation.

Source: WBAL

Nearly 300 measures to take effect without Gov. Hogan’s signature

Gov. Hogan allowed nearly 300 bills to become law without his signature on Friday during the last day of this year’s legislative session.

The 294 measures will take effect without signature in accordance with Article II, Section 17(c) of the Maryland Constitution, according to a news release.

I House bills that will take effect without signature

I Senate bills that will take effect without signature

Hogan also vetoed 18 bills, including one which allowed voters to provide several ways for a missing signature on a mail in-ballot after it had been received by a local elections board. In his veto message, Hogan said the bill did not validate a signature and he raised security concerns.

The Senate sponsor of the bill, Montgomery County Democrat Cheryl Kagan reacted to the veto in an email to reporters which said, “holy crap”

A full list of duplicative vetoes can be found here.

The Republican governor also vetoed a bill that would have allowed union dues to be tax deductible, as well as a bill that would have stayed eviction proceedings against tenants who could show they are awaiting a determination about rental assistance.

Source: WBAL

2022 midterms: Candidates compete in primary contests across four states on Tuesday

Voters head to the polls on Tuesday to select party nominees for federal, state and local offices ahead of the November 8 midterm elections. What you need to know: – Georgia Governor Brian Kemp faces ex-senator David Perdue in Tuesday’s GOP gubernatorial primary – The winner is poised to face likely Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in the fall – Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar and challenger Jessica Cisneros are competing in a closely watched runoff – Primary votes in Alabama and Arkansas are also being held on Tuesday.

The party nominees for the U.S. House District 30 race will be decided Tuesday.

District 30 is the seat that has been held by retiring U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) for three decades.

Nine Democrats and six Republicans ran in the primary with no single candidate earning more than 50% of the vote to secure the nomination for November.

On the Democratic side, State Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Dallas) is facing Jane Hope Hamilton. Crockett, who has been endorsed by the outgoing representative, secured 48% of the vote in March. Hamilton earned 17%.

The weeks between the primary and the runoff were heated for the Democrats, with both candidates accusing each other of distorting their records and not being honest.

“We have not had a campaign that had this much deception and lies in District 30 since its origin,” Johnson said at a news conference last week.

On the Republican side, James Harris and James Rodgers are in a runoff for the party nomination. In March, Harris was the top vote getter for the Republicans with 33% of the vote; Rodgers was second with 31%.

Ginni Thomas’ emails deepen her involvement in 2020 election

 Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a conservative political activist, urged Republican lawmakers in Arizona after the 2020 presidential election to choose their own slate of electors, arguing that results giving Joe Biden a victory in the state were marred by fraud.

The revelations first published by The Washington Post on Friday show that Thomas was more involved than previously known in efforts, based on unsubstantiated claims of fraud, to overturn Biden’s victory and keep then-President Donald Trump in office.

In the days after The Associated Press and other news organizations called the presidential election for Biden, Thomas emailed two lawmakers in Arizona to urge them to choose “a clean slate of Electors” and “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure.” The AP obtained the emails under the state’s open records law.

Thomas also had written to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the weeks following the election encouraging him to work to overturn Biden’s victory and keep Trump in office, according to text messages first reported by the Post and CBS News.

Thomas was a staunch Trump supporter who acknowledged she attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse but left before Trump spoke and his supporters later stormed the Capitol.

Source: AP News

Jan. 6 panel issues subpoenas to five GOP lawmakers

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas to five Republican members of Congress on Thursday as the panel prepares for a slate of public hearings next month.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Reps. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) received subpoenas.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the Jan. 6 panel, said the committee decided to issue subpoenas after the GOP lawmakers refused the opportunity to speak with the lawmakers voluntarily.

“The Select Committee has learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the attack on January 6th and the events leading up to it. Before we hold our hearings next month, we wished to provide members the opportunity to discuss these matters with the committee voluntarily. Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused and we’re forced to take this step to help ensure the committee uncovers facts concerning January 6th,” Thompson said in a statement.

“We urge our colleagues to comply with the law, do their patriotic duty, and cooperate with our investigation as hundreds of other witnesses have done,” he added.