Top Takeaways From the Second Day of January 6th Hearings

From POLITICO Playbook:

The House committee investigating Jan. 6 just wrapped up today’s hearings, a focused look at the spread of the lie that the 2020 election was rife with fraud and that DONALD TRUMP was its true victor.

The reality, as the committee detailed with testimony from people throughout Trump world, is that (1) Trump continued to lie about the outcome of the election even after being told over and over that he’d lost fair and square, and (2) every conspiracy theory about the election that was brought to the campaign was investigated and knocked down — even as those who debunked them were ignored or cast away.

BILL STEPIEN, Trump’s final campaign manager, recalled RUDY GIULIANI telling the president on election night that he needed to declare victory before all the votes were counted because “they’re stealing it from us. We need to go say that we won.” Anyone who disagreed was seen as “weak.”

Giuliani was “apparently inebriated” when he made that argument to Trump, Rep. LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.) said in her opening statement — a claim bolstered by the testimony of Stepien and Trump comms aide JASON MILLER. More from Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu

Stepien said he and others instead recommended that Trump use his election night speech to note that “votes were still being counted,” and that it’s “too early to call the race, but we are proud of the race we ran and we think we’re in good position, and will have more to say the next day or the next day.” Likewise, Miller said that he told Trump that “we should not go declaring victory until we had a better sense of the numbers.”

Stepien said Trump “thought I was wrong. He told me so.” Trump instead followed Giuliani’s advice.

“This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said on election night. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.”

What followed was an attempt to prove election fraud that did not exist. In recorded testimony, former A.G. BILL BARR told the committee that “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.”

And from there, the committee presented interview after interview attempting to prove not only that Trump was told repeatedly he’d lost the election, but also that he wasn’t interested in the actual facts at hand.

“I thought, ‘Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has become detached from reality,’” Barr said. “[W]hen I would tell him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”

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