January 6 panel paints human toll of Trump election pressure in moving testimony

WASHINGTON — The Jan. 6 committee relied on moving testimony on Tuesday to illustrate the human toll that Donald Trump’s elaborate plan to void the 2020 election has taken on public officials and their families.

While the January 6 hearings focused on Trump’s aggressive efforts to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, the committee’s fourth public hearing focused on other consequences of this pressure campaign: threats violence against those who opposed Trump’s election lies and the disruption of the lives of even the most junior election officials.

“The president’s lie was — and is — a dangerous cancer of the body politic,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, a Jan. 6 committee member who played a leading role in the hearing. tuesday. “This pressure campaign has resulted in angry phone calls and text messages, armed protests, intimidation and, all too often, threats of violence and death.”

In live testimony, the committee sparked not only stories about Trump’s efforts to nullify the election, but also the personal experiences that unfolded simultaneously — an election worker forced from her home for two months, a state official with a dying daughter and another who became enraged. after seeing the threats against a young man.

Shaye Moss, an election worker from Georgia, and her mother Ruby Freeman, have become targets of conspiracy theorists, fueling a barrage of racist attacks against them both. Freeman testified earlier that around Jan. 6, the FBI told her he was unsure about staying at her house after Trump called her name; she didn’t come back for two months. Moss said Tuesday that she now rarely leaves the house, has gained weight and continues to fear for her safety.

“It turned my life upside down,” Moss said. “It affected my life in a major way, in every way, all because of lies [about] me doing my job.

Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House, testified about efforts by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani to get the state legislature to choose a new rival voter list that would favor Trump, even if the GOP governor Doug Ducey had already certified Biden’s election victory in the Grand Canyon State.

Bowers told the committee he knew Trump’s request was unconstitutional — and repeatedly refused.

“It is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired, that it is my most basic core belief,” said Bowers, who is a Mormon. “And so for me to do this because someone just asked me to is alien to my very being; I’m not going to do it.”

Bowers, a longtime Conservative lawmaker, choked up as he told the committee the impact these events had on him and his family. Trump supporters, he said, regularly showed up at his home on Saturdays, terrorizing his family. They drove trucks through his neighborhood with video signs falsely proclaiming him “a pedophile, a pervert and a corrupt politician”, he said. In one case, a man with a gun started arguing with him and one of his neighbors about the election.

It all happened while her daughter was critically ill, Bowers said with tears in her eyes. She died on January 28, 2021, several weeks after the attack on the Capitol.

“So it was troubling,” he testified. “It’s annoying.”

To illustrate some of the other violent threats, the committee released videos of pro-Trump protesters chanting “Stop the theft!” and “You are a bully and a criminal” outside the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who earlier told the panel she thought they were going to attack her and her children,” with firearms”.

In the committee’s video, a script was shown that was used by Trump campaign staff to call state lawmakers and ask them to help overturn the election. The video also included voicemails trying to pressure state officials left behind by Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Trump aide.

From left are Arizona State House Speaker Rusty Bowers, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling. arrive to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in the cannon. House Office Building on June 21, 2022 in Washington.Mandel Ngan / AFP-Getty Images

The committee investigating the Capitol attack heard testimony from GOP witnesses from Georgia and Arizona, state officials who stood up to the former president in the weeks after the election of 2020 and pushed back against his attempts to thwart the will of voters there.

Two senior Georgia election officials — Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger and top aide Gabriel Sterling — testified to a now-infamous phone call four days before the attack in which Trump explicitly told them to “find 11,780 votes” that would put him ahead of Democrat Joe Biden as it stands.

“There were no votes to be found,” Raffensberger testified. “It was an accurate count that had been certified.”

But they also discussed threats against election workers fueled by Trump and his allies floating a disproved conspiracy that Fulton County officials found a suitcase of thousands of ballots.

Sterling testified about what led him to go on a televised tirade on Nov. 30, 2020 and issued a stern warning that Trump’s campaign lies will get someone killed. He had received a call from an official at Dominion Voting Systems, whom he described as “audibly shaken” and who told him that a young entrepreneur had received threats from QAnon supporters.

Later, Sterling searched Twitter and found the young man’s name along with a GIF of a noose.

“For lack of a better word, I just lost it,” Sterling said. “I lost my temper but it felt necessary at the time because it was only getting worse. »

The pair are cooperating with a special Fulton County grand jury investigation into whether Trump violated election law by pressuring Georgia officials.

Trump released a statement ahead of Bowers’ testimony, insisting the Bowers told Trump he had won Arizona.

“Bowers should hope there is no recording of the conversation,” Trump said in the statement. He did not provide a recording.

On Thursday, the Jan. 6 committee is set to hold its fifth public hearing, focusing on how Trump pressured senior Justice Department officials to investigate false allegations of widespread voter fraud.

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