Takeaways from the second committee hearing on January 6

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The January 6 committee used its second hearing to present evidence that Donald Trump should know better: that he had been repeatedly told his allegations of widespread voter fraud were false and that he had lost the 2020 election. – and he kept trying to overturn the result regardless.

The question is crucial when it comes to determining whether Trump’s effort meets the legal definition of acting “corruptly.”

Below are some takeaways from the audience. We will continue to update this as news develops.

1. Trump was informed, but he didn’t care

Last week the question was open as to how often Trump was actually Told what he was saying was wrong. Monday’s hearing revealed the answer: many times.

Former Attorney General William P. Barr figured prominently. We already knew that Barr testified that he told Trump that allegations of widespread voter fraud were “bullshit.” And on Monday, they released a video of Barr saying he had debunked Trump-specific allegations.

He said he looked into allegations of vote “dumps” in Detroit on election night in such detail that he knew how many precincts there were in the city. He said he told Trump there was nothing there – the boxes brought to the TCF center simply reflected that ballot counting was done centrally, unlike other parts of the state .

I said… did all the people complaining about it point out to you that you did better in Detroit than last time? Bar added. I mean, there’s no indication of cheating in Detroit. And I told him that the stuff his people were spouting to the public was bullshit.

The committee showed a video of Trump citing the same debunked conspiracy theory on Dec. 2.

Barr also referenced a claim that there were supposedly more votes than voters in Philadelphia, which was easily debunked (she compared primary data to general election data) but which Trump continued to promote. Barr says he thought he also raised the issue with Trump.

Former Assistant Attorney General Richard Donoghue also went through a litany of allegations in great detail, saying he informed Trump there was nothing wrong with them. He specifically cited a popular theory – raised by Trump – about a “suitcase” of votes in Georgia that wasn’t really a suitcase. He said he told Trump “it wasn’t true.”

“I tried, again, to put that into perspective and try to put it in very clear terms to the president,” Donoghue said. “And I said something like, ‘Sir, we’ve done dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews. The main allegations are not supported by the evidence developed. We’ve looked in Georgia, Pennsylvania, the Michigan, Nevada. We’re doing our job. Most of the information you get is wrong.”

The Jan. 6 committee shared testimony from former acting attorney general Richard Donoghue on June 13 about how Trump harbored numerous conspiracy theories. (Video: The Washington Post)

From there, the question is whether Trump understood or accepted. But both Barr and Donoghue indicated that Trump wasn’t very interested in debunking his claims or digging into the details.

“I was kind of demoralized because I thought, boy, if he really believes in this stuff, he’s…detached from reality,” Barr said. “On the other hand, you know, when I went in there and told them how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never any indication of interest in what the actual facts were.

Donoghue added that “there were so many of these allegations that when you gave him a very direct answer on one of them, he wouldn’t fight us, but he would move on to another allegation..”

This sounds a lot more like a guy looking for an excuse to overturn an election than someone legitimately concerned about the integrity of elections. We may never find out that Trump knew the truth — Barr suggested it’s possible the former president actually believed these outlandish and widely debunked notions — but the fact that he was briefed in such detail is important.

2. More Evidence Almost Everyone Knew Trump Lost

Last week’s hearing presented evidence that those around Trump knew he lost and that there was not enough fraud to overturn the result. And Monday added more to that record.

At the start of the hearing, the committee played testimony from White House attorney Eric Herschmann, saying he “never saw a shred of evidence” to support Trump’s claims about the use of voting machines to cancel the election.

They also showed Trump campaign general counsel Matt Morgan saying any evidence of wrongdoing was “not enough to be material to the outcome” – a conclusion he said was shared by two advisers keys of Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short and Greg Jacob.

The committee also played clips of Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and campaign aide Jason Miller saying they were advising Trump against declaring victory that night – as Trump eventually did. – because the votes were still coming in and the outcome was indeed uncertain. And he released a video of Barr confirming he knew in advance that Democrats would gain ground when mail-in votes were counted, especially in urban areas. (Trump would later baselessly claim that such gains were suspect.)

All of this testimony reinforced the idea that the effort to overturn the election was being undertaken despite the smart people in the room — the people who actually understood the evidence, for which Trump had no respect.

3. Giuliani’s time in the barrel

This brings us to the question of who was delivering the counterprogramming to Trump. As Monday’s hearing progressed, it became abundantly clear how little regard Trump aides had for the man who filled the void: Rudy Giuliani.

At the start of the hearing, the committee played a video of Miller confirming that Giuliani was intoxicated on election night, including when he sought to influence Trump’s actions. Miller said Giuliani was “definitely drunk”.

As the hearing progressed, witnesses painted a picture of this man — a man who was inebriated on such an important night — essentially hijacking Trump’s campaign apparatus. Stepien said he was happy to be dissociated from what was happening.

“I didn’t mind being characterized as part of ‘Team Normal’,” Stepien said, contrasting that with Giuliani’s squad.

Stepien and Herschmann could barely hide their disdain for the various theories floated by Trump and his allies, including Sidney Powell.

“What they were offering, I thought, was crazy,” Herschmann said,

And Morgan said the campaign was struggling to find lawyers because of the types of baseless and outlandish allegations being filed.

“Law firms weren’t comfortable making Rudy Giuliani’s case publicly,” Morgan said, adding that he had a “similar conversation with most of them.”

At another point, the committee released audio of Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner saying he told Trump that listening to Rudy Giuliani was “not the approach I would take.” would adopt if I were you”.

Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner testified that he told President Donald Trump not to accept campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s arguments. (Video: The Washington Post)


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