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Trump was ‘asking for civil war’, former campaign m...

Newsdeck

JANUARY 6 HEARINGS

Trump was ‘asking for civil war’, former campaign manager tells House committee

Representative Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi and chairman of the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, speaks during a hearing in Washington, DC, US, on July 12 2022. (Photo: Bloomberg)
By Bloomberg
13 Jul 2022 0

The House committee investigating the January 6 2021 insurrection convened its seventh in a series of televised hearings on Tuesday, this one focused on the extremists who stormed the US Capitol. 

Key Developments:

Trump was asking for civil war, says former campaign chief

The committee showed text messages between Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale and Trump campaign official Katrina Pierson on January 6 in which Parscale complained about “a sitting president asking for civil war” and said “this week I feel guilty for helping him win”.

Pierson replied, “You did what you felt right at the time and therefore it was right.” But Parscale said “yeah but a woman is dead” and “if I was Trump and I knew my rhetoric killed someone”.

“It wasn’t the rhetoric,” Pierson replied. “Katrina. Yes it was,” Parscale said.

Trump allies, legislators talked ‘Eastman theory’

Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone has confirmed that members of Congress were present at a December 21 2020 White House meeting where Trump allies discussed a scheme to have Pence block the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory, said committee member Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat.

Those legislators attending that meeting, according to White House visitors’ logs, were Republicans Brian Babin, Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Andy Harris, Jody Hice, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry and Marjorie Taylor Greene, Murphy said.

“These members were discussing what would later be known as the Eastman theory, which was being pushed by attorney John Eastman,” Murphy said. Trump, she said, was trying “to convince Pence to do something illegal”.

She said Cipollone confirmed that meeting occurred, in his closed-door deposition on Friday.

Trump, Bannon spoke twice on eve of Capitol riot

Donald Trump spoke twice the day before the January 6 riot with Steve Bannon, his polarising former political strategist, Murphy said.

She said the committee learnt about those calls from White House phone logs, and that “the first conversation they had lasted for 11 minutes”.

It was after that first call, she said, that Bannon declared, “All hell is going to break loose. Tomorrow, it’s all converging.” He added, “All I can say is strap in.”

Murphy said the logs show the two men spoke again that evening, for six minutes.

Cipollone said Pence should receive Medal of Freedom

Cipollone said he thought Pence should have been given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for certifying the electoral votes on January 6 2021.

“I think he did a great service for this country,” Cipollone told the committee in recorded testimony.

Cipollone said he thought theories that the vice-president could throw away electoral votes were “nutty” and that Pence fulfilled what was required of him by the Constitution.

“My view was that the vice-president didn’t have the legal authority to do anything except what he did,” Cipollone said.

March to Capitol ‘not spontaneous call to action’

The committee showed an email from Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign official, showing Donald Trump wanted a big crowd on January 6 and a march to the Capitol. Committee member Stephanie Murphy said “the evidence confirms this was not a spontaneous call to action”.

An email from Pierson to rally organisers on January 2 said, “POTUS expectations are to have something intimate at the ellipse, and call on everyone to march to the Capitol.” Pierson also said in a separate clip, Trump “likes the crazies”.

The committee also showed a draft tweet from the National Archives stamped, “president has seen” that had Trump announcing his January 6 speech with “massive crowds expected” and “march to the Capitol after. Stop the Steal!!”

Trump aides portray fights over fraud allegations

Divisions were growing tense by mid-December 2020 between election-fraud conspiracy pushers advising then President Donald Trump and his official legal advisers, including Cipollone, according to depositions the committee released.

On December 16, a special order was drafted that would allow the Defense Department to seize voting machines. Trump also raised the idea of naming Sidney Powell as special counsel over that process.

Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin said Powell told the president these steps were necessary because of evidence of foreign interference.

Two days later, a profanity-laced Oval Office meeting occurred, pitting Powell, Trump’s personal lawyer, and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn against White House advisers Eric Herschmann and, at times, White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

Arguments broke out over suggested strategies to seize voting machines and other moves, but Trump heard again from his official legal advisers that there was no evidence to support fraud claims.

“The answer is what is it?” Cipollone said of such evidence, in a video clip of his testimony about what he asked, adding, “At some point you have to put up or shut up.”

Cipollone testified that he disagreed with election fraud allegations

Cipollone said he agreed with then Attorney-General William Barr’s December 1 announcement that there wasn’t election fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election.

“I supported that conclusion,” Cipollone said in testimony to the January 6 committee.

Barr’s announcement, which was made in a news interview, prompted Trump to throw his lunch plate against a wall when he heard it, according to previous findings released by the panel.

Cipollone told Trump to concede in December 2020

Cipollone told the committee he believed that Trump should have publicly admitted that he lost the election to Joe Biden and told the president to do so in December 2020, according to a videotaped excerpt of his testimony shown by the panel.

“Did I believe that he should concede the election at that point in time? Yes I did,” Cipollone said in his Friday testimony, portions of which were aired publicly for the first time during Tuesday’s hearing.

Cipollone said he agreed that there wasn’t evidence of fraud sufficient to overturn the election.

Cheney says Trump isn’t an ‘impressionable child’

Former President Donald Trump and his defenders are trying to use a new strategy to say the former president was misled in the aftermath of the election because the committee has succeeded in defeating their other argument, Committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, said at the start of the hearing.

“President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child,” Cheney said.

Witness pleaded guilty after bragging of assault on social media

Among the witnesses expected is a man who was arrested after bragging on social media of breaking into the Capitol on January 6.

Stephen Ayres of Ohio ultimately pleaded guilty to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, which can carry a year in prison.

An affidavit filed in his case notes that the FBI reviewed a Facebook video of Ayers and two others describing their experiences inside the Capitol. His self-promotion led to his arrest.

“Mainstream media, social media, Democrat party, FISA courts, Chief Justice John Roberts, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, etc … all have committed TREASON against a sitting US president!!! All are now put on notice by ‘We The People!’” the affidavit quotes him as saying in the video.

A second witness will be a former national media director for the far-right militant group Oath Keepers. Jason Van Tatenhove is expected to give a historical perspective of the group, its patterns, motivations and practices, although he had severed his ties to the group years ago.

Polls show hearings impacting Trump support

Revelations from the hearings already may be having an impact on Republican voters. About 44% of Republicans said Trump lied about the 2020 election results in a Politico/Morning Consult poll taken July 8-10, up 7 percentage points from a survey conducted by the same pollster two weeks earlier.

Still, only 31% of Republicans say Trump is responsible for the January 6 attack, according to the poll, released Tuesday.

Nearly half of Republicans say they would prefer a presidential candidate other than Trump for the 2024 election, according to a New York Times/Siena poll also released Tuesday. In a hypothetical contest with five potential GOP rivals, 49% of Republican primary voters said they would support Trump, versus 46% who chose one of the others. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis emerged as the top alternative, with 25% support.

(With assistance from Chris Strohm and Diego Areas Munhoz.)

Gallery

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