WASHINGTON — Bill Stepien, who told the Jan. 6 committee that he quit Donald Trump’s campaign after the 2020 election because he couldn’t accept his campaign lies, nonetheless continues to coordinate Trump’s political operation , which relies almost entirely on spreading these exact lies. election lies.
Stepien’s national public affairs firm is currently paid $10,000 a month by Trump’s Save America Committee, receiving a total of $130,000 since last May and taking in an additional $90,562 from Trump’s reconfigured presidential campaign, according to a HuffPost analysis of documents filed by the Federal Election Commission.
He also raised an additional $1.2 million from a cast of pro-Trump election liars, including $190,488 from Harriet Hageman, who is trying to unseat Wyoming Congresswoman and Jan. 6 Committee Deputy Chair Liz Cheney. in the August Republican primary.
Stepien did not respond to questions from HuffPost about his work for Trump.
On Monday, the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by Trump’s mob released excerpts from Stepien’s deposition in February with committee investigators. In one, Stepien said he always tried to be ‘honest and professional’ in his work, and disagreed with other Trump aides who pushed false theories. of the conspiracy that the election had been stolen from him by massive electoral fraud.
“I didn’t think what was going on was necessarily honest or professional at the time. So, again, that caused me to walk away,” Stepien said.
Yet Stepien never really left Trump, with his company receiving $20,000 in February and March 2021, and up to $30,000 and no less than $10,000 every month since. His job for Trump to date, according to an adviser to the former president, is to coordinate Trump’s political strategy, including Trump’s efforts to defeat candidates who challenge his false claim that the election was stolen from him. or, worse, voted to impeach him. for instigating the January 6 attack.
Each week, Stepien is on an hour-long call with other high-profile Trump aides, including Dan Scavino, Jason Miller, and Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. The last such call was on the 6th June ; Monday’s appeal was canceled because it conflicted with the Jan. 6 committee hearing.
“He’s trying to tell the world he quit,” said the Trump adviser, who is familiar with Trump’s political operation, on condition of anonymity. “He has been on every call since January 6. He is paid monthly to do so. …I mean, come on, man.
Trump’s political operation since leaving office 17 months ago has centered on his ‘big lie’ about the 2020 election. It’s the central theme of his campaign rallies, and a candidate who refuses repeating it and disseminating it cannot obtain its approval.
“The election was rigged and stolen,” Trump said at a recent rally in Pennsylvania.
“The 2020 presidential election was rigged and stolen,” he wrote in a post on his Twitter-like social media platform, “Truth Social,” on Friday, the morning after the committee’s first hearing on 6 January. “The so-called ‘Capitol Rush’ wasn’t caused by me, it was caused by a rigged and stolen election!”
Twelve of Stepien’s 15 other clients running for the House or Senate are also supporters of Trump’s stolen election lie.
Hagemen, one of Stepien’s most lucrative clients, repeatedly refused to acknowledge that Joe Biden had won the 2020 election during a September interview with CNN.
“I think there are legitimate questions about what happened in the 2020 election,” she said, without giving details. “Legitimate questions are: ‘What happened?'”
A spokesperson for Cheney declined to comment on Stepien taking $190,488 from Hagemen’s campaign while appearing at Monday’s hearing as the leader of ‘Team Normal’ which strongly rejected the lies of Trump.
Another Stepien client, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, previously and accurately called the state for Biden in 2020. But now that he’s a Senate candidate, he’s spreading integrity misinformation. state electoral processes.
There are “serious concerns” about the Arizona election results, Brnovich said in April on a podcast with Trump adviser Steve Bannon. “It’s frustrating for all of us because I think we all know what happened in 2020,” he said, without explanation.
Stepien took $66,346 from Brnovich’s campaign.
Stepien’s other clients include Alaska Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka, who has repeatedly promoted Trump’s lie about a stolen election; Oregon congressional candidate Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who in April declined to give a straight answer about whether Biden had won the election; Washington congressional candidate Matt Larkin, who last year declined to say whether he thought Biden was the rightful president; and Ohio Senate candidate Mike Gibbons, who repeatedly spread the lie that millions more people voted in 2020 than were registered to vote.
Stepien also counts current members of Congress among his clients, including six who voted to void the 2020 presidential election based on Trump’s lie – just hours after that same lie fueled an attempted coup. on Capitol Hill: Representatives Warren Davidson (Ohio), Jason Smith (Mo.), Mary Miller (Ill.), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.), Jeff Van Drew (NJ) and Ronny Jackson (Texas), who was once a doctor to the White House.
Those lawmakers paid Stepien $487,985 this year, of the $1.2 million he received from congressional candidates. Some of them also continue to spread lies about the 2020 elections.
“If you don’t think there was MASSIVE voter fraud in the 2020 election after seeing 2000 mules, then NOTHING can convince you,” Jackson tweeted last month, using his former patient’s particular style of punctuation and capitalization. “The number of criminal frauds caught ON CAMERA will SHOCK you! 2020 was NOT ‘free and fair’ AT ALL. GO SEE 2000 MULES!!”
Jackson was referring to a widely debunked conspiracy theory film — which Trump’s own attorney general Bill Barr mocked in recorded testimony before the committee — that purports to show massive voter fraud with ballot boxes during the election. 2020 presidential election.
The money Stepien and others receive from Save America has been raised almost entirely from small donors — with nearly two-thirds of the $129.6 million raised to date in the weeks immediately following the November election. 2020 and before January 6, 2021.
During that time, Trump sent hundreds of solicitations to the millions on his mailing list, claiming the money would go to his “election defense fund” and to help the two GOP Senate candidates retain their offices on January 5 in Georgia. runoff.
In fact, there was no campaign defense fund, and none of the money raised went to help the Senate candidates, who both lost to Democratic challengers, giving control of that chamber to the Democrat. New Yorker Chuck Schumer.
“Leadership” political action committees such as Save America operate with few regulations on their spending, and Trump could use the money for virtually anything he wants, including covering his legal fees or paying himself a salary. .
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and Jan. 6 committee member who handled much of the questioning on Monday, said part of the investigation is looking into that fundraiser.
“Small donors use limited disposable income to support the candidates and causes of their choice to make their voices heard. And these donors deserve the truth about the use of these funds,” she told the hearing. “We found evidence that the Trump campaign and its surrogates misled donors about where their funds were going and what they would be used for. So not only was there the big lie, there was the big scam.
The committee is holding a series of hearings designed to expose Trump’s role in stoking the anger of his millions of supporters over his election defeat, then inviting them to Washington, D.C., in the express purpose of intimidating the vice-president of the time, Mike. Pence and GOP lawmakers still granted him a second term.
Trump, despite losing the election by 7 million votes nationally and 306-232 in the Electoral College, became the first president in more than two centuries of elections to refuse to hand over power peacefully. His instigation of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol — his latest attempt to stay in power — left five people dead, including one police officer, injured 140 other officers, and led to four police suicides.
Nonetheless, Trump remains the dominant figure in the Republican Party and is openly talking about running for president again in 2024.