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

Trump pays $110K fine, must submit paperwork to end contempt

Former President Donald Trump has paid the $110,000 in fines he racked up after being held in contempt of court for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York’s attorney general.

Trump paid the fine Thursday but must still submit additional paperwork in order to have the contempt order lifted, the office of Attorney General Letitia James said Friday.

A message seeking comment was left Friday with Trump’s lawyer.

A Manhattan judge declared Trump in contempt of court on April 25 and fined him $10,000 per day for not complying with a subpoena in James’ long-running investigation into his business practices.

Judge Arthur Engoron agreed May 11 to lift the contempt order if, by Friday, Trump paid the fines and submitted affidavits detailing efforts to search for the subpoenaed records and explaining his and his company’s document retention policies.

Engoron also required a company hired by Trump to aid in the search, HaystackID, finish going through 17 boxes kept in off-site storage, and for that company to report its findings and turn over any relevant documents. That process was completed Thursday, James’ office said.

Source: AP News

Judge lifts Trump contempt ruling, imposes $110,000 fine

A judge on Wednesday released former President Trump from being held in contempt on the condition that he pay a $110,000 fine to the New York attorney general’s office for failing to comply with a subpoena for his business records.

During a hearing, New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron said that halting his contempt ruling would also be contingent on Trump’s lawyers submitting more information to the court about their efforts to comply with his order earlier this year that the former president comply with the subpoena, according to the attorney general’s office.

The judge gave Trump until May 20 to comply with the conditions.

Engoron last month found Trump in contempt for failing to turn over requested documents and ordered him to pay $10,000 a day until he complied.

Trump must testify in New York investigation, judge rules

Former President Donald Trump must answer questions under oath in New York state’s civil investigation into his business practices, a judge ruled Thursday. Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump and his two eldest children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., to comply with subpoenas issued in December by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump and his two children must sit for depositions within 21 days, Engoron said following a two-hour hearing with lawyers for the Trumps and James’ office.

“In the final analysis, a State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principals, including its namesake. She has the clear right to do so.” Engoron wrote in his decision.

Source: AP News

Jan. 6 panel sets vote on contempt charges against Bannon

A congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has set a vote to recommend criminal contempt charges against former White House aide Steve Bannon after he defied the panel’s subpoena on Thursday.

The chairman of the panel, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the committee will vote next Tuesday to recommend the charges. That would send the recommendation to the full House for a vote.

If the House votes to pursue the contempt charges against Bannon, the Justice Department will ultimately decide whether to prosecute. The committee had demanded documents and testimony from Bannon, who was in touch with President Donald Trump ahead of the violent attack.

“The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt,” Thompson said in a statement.

The committee had scheduled a Thursday deposition with Bannon, but his lawyer said that at Trump’s direction he wouldn’t appear. Bannon also failed to provide documents to the panel by a deadline last week.

A deposition for a second witness that had been scheduled for Thursday, former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel, has been delayed, but Patel is still engaging with the committee, a committee aide said.

Two other men who worked for Trump — former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and longtime Trump social media director Dan Scavino — were scheduled for depositions Friday, but they have both been pushed back as well, according to the aide. Meadows, like Patel, has been given a “short postponement” as he is in talks with the panel. Scavino’s deposition has been rescheduled because there were delays in serving his subpoena.

Bannon’s testimony is just one facet of an escalating congressional inquiry, with 19 subpoenas issued so far and thousands of pages of documents flowing in. But his defiance is a crucial development for the committee, whose members are vowing to restore the binding force of congressional subpoenas after they were routinely flouted during Trump’s time in office.

Source: AP News

Trump downplays DeSantis’ Presidential chances as 2024 speculation swirls

Trump says he’s not worried about a DeSantis challenge. Former U.S. President Donald Trump said Gov. Ron DeSantis would be no match for him in a potential 2024 Primary matchup.

“If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else,” Trump told Yahoo! Finance, noting that DeSantis likely would stand down. “I don’t think I will face him,” Trump said. “I think most people would drop out, I think he would drop out.”

The comments come as a new poll showed DeSantis surprisingly competitive with Trump in the 2024 field.

The poll from the John Bolton SuperPAC showed Trump and DeSantis tied with 25% support. The survey revealed a seemingly anomalous aversion to Trump among likely Republican voters, with just 26% of the 1,000 polled wanting Trump to run at all. Another poll from the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll paints a different picture.

That survey says that Trump is still the overwhelming favorite and it’s actually Vice President Mike Pence who would be the second choice. Trump drew 58% support when included, compared to Pence’s 13% and DeSantis’ 9%. Without Trump, Pence was the choice of 32%, and DeSantis just 20%. Other metrics reveal more distance between Trump and DeSantis. “It’s all one-way traffic in the betting for 2024 and it’s Donald Trump who has the momentum … and he’s not far from going on odds-on to be the Republican candidate contesting the election,” said a spokesperson from BoyleSports, an oddsmaker that has made the case that DeSantis has cooled off as a 2024 prospect.

Source: floridapolitics.com

GOP-backed Arizona election review confirms Biden 2020 win

A late draft of an election audit that will be presented Friday to the Arizona state Senate will confirm that President Biden carried Maricopa County during the 2020 election, and by a wider margin than the final certified results showed.

The report, compiled by the Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas, leaked to several Arizona media outlets on Thursday night, about a day before the final version will be presented. The Hill obtained one draft of the report from several Arizona Republican sources.

The draft acknowledges early on that the audit, which took five months and cost taxpayers and private donors millions, found no significant discrepancies between the certified count — which showed Biden carrying Maricopa County by about 45,000 votes — and a hand recount of the nearly 2.1 million votes cast.

The recount actually found Biden won the county by a slightly wider margin than the official canvass showed: The Cyber Ninjas team added 99 votes to Biden’s tally, while subtracting 261 votes from former President Trump’s total, 204 votes from Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgenson, and 628 votes that were classified as write-ins, over votes or under votes. The certified vote count by Maricopa County found that Trump lost by 45,109 votes, while the Cyber Ninjas audit found Biden won by 45,469 votes.

Source: The Hill