Trump’s Mail-In Voting Attacks Fueled a ‘Big Lie,’ Says Jan. 6 Panel

AAs the Jan. 6 committee held its second public hearing on Monday, it focused much of its presentation not on the deadly attack on the Capitol or statements by former President Donald Trump that allegedly caused his supporters to violence, but on a more mysterious subject: postal voting. .

The House panel presented evidence showing how Trump sowed the seeds of his efforts to overturn the election by waging a crusade against mail-in ballots. Despite expectations that the raging pandemic would lower in-person voter turnout in 2020, Trump dismissed arguments from his own campaign staff to embrace mail-in voting, opting instead to discourage his supporters from voting by mail.

This decision would ultimately fabricate the scenario that Trump has exploited to challenge the election results.

During the committee’s first daytime hearing, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, showed a video clip of Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien recounting a summer 2020 meeting he had with the leader. House Minority Kevin McCarthy and Trump. Stepien said he and McCarthy “explained why we thought mail-in voting, mail-in voting, was not a bad thing for his campaign,” Stepien said. “But the president’s decision was made.”

Stepien, who was originally scheduled to testify in person, withdrew hours before the hearing because his wife had given birth. The committee released excerpts from his deposition instead, including one in which he recalled explaining to Trump that urging his supporters to vote on Election Day ‘leaves a lot of luck’ and that Republicans had ‘an advantage’. to improve participation within the system.

Absentee voting has, in fact, long been popular with Republicans, especially older Republicans who live in rural districts. In Colorado’s 2014 election, the first in which the state sent mail-in ballots to every registered voter, Republican voters outperformed Democratic voters, an independent study later found.

Trump, however, has frequently castigated mail-in voting as rife with fraud. As states dramatically expanded access to this method of voting during the pandemic, he was able to convince many Republican voters to reject it: 59% of Democrats in 2020 voted by mail, compared to just 30% of Republicans. This dynamic led many election experts to warn that a “red mirage” could emerge on election night, which would create a misleading impression early in the evening that Trump had won, as Republican-heavy in-person votes were expected to be counted first in many games. from the country. In major swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, however, mail-in ballots could not be counted until after polls closed, leading election results to swing more later strongly toward Biden.

Trump has made no secret of his intention to sue after Election Day to stop the counting of mail-in ballots. In August, he told an audience that the only way to lose an election was through fraud. Later, during one of the fall debates, he said he “counted” on the judiciary to “examine the ballots.” Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers in three swing states have blocked legislation to expedite the counting of mail-in ballots to deliberately slow the counting of mail-in votes.

One of Monday’s witnesses, Chris Stirewalt, was Fox News’ political editor during the 2020 election but was fired shortly after, amid backlash from Trump and others over the call of the network in the election for Biden. Stirewalt told the committee that the network tried to explain to its viewers ahead of the election how the vote count would work. “We went to great lengths – and I’m proud of the effort we went to – to make sure we let viewers know this was going to happen, because the Trump campaign and the president had made it clear they would try to exploit this anomaly,” he said.

In one of the most memorable moments of the second hearing, the committee played a series of clips of taped depositions from former Trump officials who told the story of Election Night from the West Wing. According to testimony from Stepien, campaign aide Jason Miller, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, aides and advisers repeatedly told Trump he should not declare victory. until there are more results.

“My recommendation was to say the votes are always counted,” Stepien said. “It is too early to announce the race. But we can be proud of the race we ran. We think we are in a good position and we will have more to say the next day. But Trump “thought I was wrong,” Stepien added. “He told me.”

As Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming and vice chair of the panel, said, “President Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night and instead took the course recommended by a Rudy Giuliani apparently in drunk.”

In recorded deposition, Miller added that Guiliani – who he said was “definitely drunk” – advised the president to “go declare victory and say we won it”. Trump then gave a press conference in the East Room of the White House on the night of Nov. 4, 2020. “Frankly, we won this election,” he said.

Between election night and Jan. 6, 2021, the Trump campaign filed 62 lawsuits in nine states and the District of Columbia, according to the committee. He lost 61. Their claims of voter fraud were dismissed by 10 Trump-appointed justices, including three on the Supreme Court.

The panel showed numerous segments of former Attorney General William Barr telling the committee that he explained to Trump how his argument that the election was rigged had no evidentiary basis. “He’s detached from reality if he really believes that stuff,” Barr told the panel. “When I went in there and told them how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never any indication of interest in the actual facts.”

One of the most explosive findings from the hearing centered on the Trump campaign raising more than $250 million to fund his legal challenges, sending millions of emails to his constituents to raise money for the electoral defence. No such fund existed, and little of that money went to support Trump’s court battles.

According to the committee, the money raised went to Trump’s Save America PAC, which then donated to an assortment of MAGA causes, including $1 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute, the organization of the former chief of staff of Trump, Mark Meadow; $1 million to the America First Policy Institute, a black money think tank allied with Trump; and $204,857 to the Trump Hotel Collection.

“The Big Lie was a big rip-off too,” Lofgren said.

At the end of Monday’s hearing, the committee showed a video montage with the emails sent by Trump to raise funds from supporters, many of whom questioned the integrity of the mail-in ballots. “Democrats are trying to STEAL the election,” he wrote. “We will never let them. Votes cannot be cast after the polls [sic] are closed.”

The video then showed footage of Trump supporters in Washington on January 6, 2021, regurgitating the same points.

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