House Jan. 6 committee to focus on pressure placed on Georgia election officials
Tuesday’s hearing is the select committee’s fourth in a series that aims to demonstrate the former President Donald Trump's role in the attack.
WASHINGTON — The House Jan. 6 committee plans to show that President Donald Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows “had an intimate role … in this plot to put pressure on (Georgia) state legislators and on elections officials,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff, a member of the panel, told the Los Angeles Times in advance of Tuesday’s hearing.
Among other things, Schiff, D-Calif., said the committee investigating the 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will release new information about Meadows’ appearance at a key election meeting in Georgia and text messages revealing that he wanted to send autographed Make America Great Again hats to people conducting the audit.
Tuesday’s hearing is the select committee’s fourth in a series that aims to demonstrate the former president’s role in the attack.
With a focus on Trump’s efforts to pressure state officials, it will feature live testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — who was on the receiving end of Trump’s infamous request to “find” enough votes to overturn President Joe Biden’s win.
Others testifying Tuesday will be Raffensperger’s top deputy Gabriel Sterling and Shaye Moss, a Georgia elections worker.
Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Republican, will testify about the calls he received from Trump and lawyer John Eastman, and a meeting with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, asking him to take action to overturn the election.
Tuesday’s hearing will feature a leading role for Schiff, who has developed a reputation as one of the consummate leaders of House Democrats’ investigations into the Trump administration over the last three years. Schiff had key roles in the Russia and Ukraine investigations, and Trump’s first impeachment trial.
With the Jan. 6 probe, Schiff and House Democrats have a powerful tool they lacked in the previous investigations: Some of Trump’s closest allies have spelled out in sworn testimony the details of the former president’s actions leading up to Jan. 6 and, in many cases, how they advocated against such moves.
In the interview, Schiff, a former prosecutor, expressed surprise that the House committee got so many people to speak on the record.
“I’m glad these people are coming forward,” he said. “I’m glad they’re speaking out. It took a long time for (former Attorney General) Bill Barr to do the right thing. It took a long time for many others who enabled Donald Trump to say I can’t go any further.”
But he added that if they had spoken out earlier, “we might have been spared all the trauma we went through.”
In the Ukraine investigation, several Foreign Service officers testified, but most of Trump’s political appointees and political allies refused to speak or fought subpoenas.
“Once we got above the level of the Foreign Service and civil service, Trump had such discipline and frankly fear inculcated in his people that they were willing to violate the law and refuse to appear on subpoena,” Schiff said. “It took a violent attack on the Capitol to change that. It should have changed much sooner than that.”
The Jan. 6 committee hearings have stood in contrast to previous high-profile House hearings related to Trump because they do not include any Trump supporters.
The panel is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — who had already asserted that Trump’s actions led to the violent assault on the Capitol.
The decision by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to rescind his GOP appointments to the committee — after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected some — has meant Trump has no allies to defend his position and has allowed Democrats to convey an unchallenged message.
Schiff warned that American democracy remains at risk and that Trump is likely to begin another run for the presidency by early next year. The message Schiff wants to convey: “The system held, but barely.”
“Our democracy is more vulnerable today than it has ever been. They’re using the same big lie that propelled that violence to disenfranchise people of color, with new voter disenfranchisement laws, to attack independent elections officials,” he said. “And as long as that is the case, then that is where I’m going to put my focus until we get through this crisis.”
©2022 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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