The House committee investigating Jan. 6 just wrapped up today’s hearings, a focused look at the spread of the lie that the 2020 election was rife with fraud and that DONALD TRUMP was its true victor.
The reality, as the committee detailed with testimony from people throughout Trump world, is that (1) Trump continued to lie about the outcome of the election even after being told over and over that he’d lost fair and square, and (2) every conspiracy theory about the election that was brought to the campaign was investigated and knocked down — even as those who debunked them were ignored or cast away.
BILL STEPIEN, Trump’s final campaign manager, recalled RUDY GIULIANI telling the president on election night that he needed to declare victory before all the votes were counted because “they’re stealing it from us. We need to go say that we won.” Anyone who disagreed was seen as “weak.”
Giuliani was “apparently inebriated” when he made that argument to Trump, Rep. LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.) said in her opening statement — a claim bolstered by the testimony of Stepien and Trump comms aide JASON MILLER. More from Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu
Stepien said he and others instead recommended that Trump use his election night speech to note that “votes were still being counted,” and that it’s “too early to call the race, but we are proud of the race we ran and we think we’re in good position, and will have more to say the next day or the next day.” Likewise, Miller said that he told Trump that “we should not go declaring victory until we had a better sense of the numbers.”
Stepien said Trump “thought I was wrong. He told me so.” Trump instead followed Giuliani’s advice.
“This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said on election night. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.”
What followed was an attempt to prove election fraud that did not exist. In recorded testimony, former A.G. BILL BARR told the committee that “there was an avalanche of all these allegations of fraud that built up over a number of days, and it was like playing whack-a-mole, because something would come out one day and then the next day, it would be another issue.”
And from there, the committee presented interview after interview attempting to prove not only that Trump was told repeatedly he’d lost the election, but also that he wasn’t interested in the actual facts at hand.
“I thought, ‘Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has become detached from reality,’” Barr said. “[W]hen I would tell him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”
Good Monday afternoon.
POLL: VOTERS SUPPORT DOJ ACTION — In a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, a majority of voters said they think the Justice Department should bring legal action against elected officials who have attempted to overturn the results of an election — a question that has cropped up in light of the hearings.
Do you believe that the Department of Justice should bring legal action against …
- … elected officials who have misled Americans about the outcome of an election: Sixty-three percent said “yes, probably” or “yes definitely,” while 26% said “no, probably not” or “no, definitely not.” Net approval: +37
- … elected officials who have attempted to overturn the results of an American election: Sixty-seven percent said “yes,” 21% said “no.” Net approval: +46
How responsible do you believe each of the following are for the events that led to a group of people attacking police and breaking into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6?
- The people who broke into the Capitol: Eighty-five percent say “very” or “somewhat” responsible, and 8% say “not too” or “not” responsible. Net: +77
- Social media: Sixty percent say “very” or “somewhat” responsible, and 28% say “not too” or “not” responsible. Net: +32
- The news media: Fifty-seven percent say “very” or “somewhat” responsible, and 31% say “not too” or “not” responsible. Net: +26
- Trump: Fifty-seven percent say “very” or “somewhat” responsible, and 34% say “not too” or “not” responsible. Net: +23
- Congressional Republicans: Forty-nine percent say “very” or “somewhat” responsible, and 38% say “not too” or “not” responsible. Net: +11
- Congressional Democrats: Thirty-three percent say “very” or “somewhat” responsible, and 53% say “not too” or “not” responsible. Net: -20
Two more interesting findings:
- Asked whether the events of Jan. 6 would affect how they vote in the midterms, 32% of voters said it would have a major impact, 18% said it would have a minor impact and 50% said it would have no impact.
- Asked how much of the first hearing they watched live last week, 14% said they watched the primetime hearing in full, 25% said they watched some of it and 60% said they didn’t watch any of it. Toplines … Crosstabs
2022 WATCH — HERSCHEL WALKER said at least thrice in recent years that he’d worked in law enforcement — as a police officer or an FBI agent — when he hadn’t actually, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Shannon McCaffrey reports. He was an honorary deputy in a few counties, his GOP Senate campaign now says, but that confers no authority. And in fact he spent only a week at an FBI school in Quantico, he told the AP in the 1980s.
PRIMARY COLORS — New York’s small but influential left-wing Working Families Party is throwing its support from Rep. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY to progressive challenger ALESSANDRA BIAGGI, Bill Mahoney and Anna Gronewold report, giving her “access to arguably the state’s largest grassroots mobilization operation.” The WFP has managed to take out incumbents before, though Maloney’s camp said they weren’t worried.
CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR — Democrats are trying to nudge controversial Republicans to primary victories more than ever before, hoping that Trumpist election deniers will be easier to beat in November. The tactic has worked in the past for CLAIRE MCCASKILL and JOE MANCHIN. But the strategy is risky and not without its detractors, reports HuffPost’s Kevin Robillard: Some Dems see bolstering the likes of DOUG MASTRIANO in Pennsylvania and RON HANKS in Colorado as damaging to democracy.
ELITE STRIKE FORCE TEAM — JENNA ELLIS, who helped try to overturn the 2020 election for Trump, is joining Mastriano’s campaign as senior legal adviser.
WHOOPS — ANDREW YANG’s new Forward Party set its sights on Minnesota as its first target for expansion. But it didn’t end up getting any candidates on the ballot, Axios’ Torey Van Oot reports.
GRIN AND BEAR IT — Stock markets today nosedived toward bear market territory, with the Dow plunging 2.3% and the S&P 500 3.1%, in anticipation of large Fed interest rate hikes to tackle stubbornly high inflation. More from MarketWatch
IMMIGRATION FILES — The Supreme Court’s conservative majority today ruled that migrants can’t challenge immigration policies in class-action lawsuits. The 6-3 decision in Garland v. Gonzales will have “major repercussions for how other immigration policies can be challenged in federal court in the future,” CNN’s Tierney Sneed reports.
AFTERNOON READ — The New Yorker’s Stephania Taladrid tells the story of a pregnant young teenager in Texas who sought an abortion this spring — and had to journey to New Mexico, across seven hundred miles and at significant cost, to obtain it thanks to Texas’ new near-ban. “If Roe is overturned, the emotional intensity of trips like this one will only increase, should anti-abortion legislatures experiment, as is expected, with laws that impose penalties on those who cross state lines to get procedures that their home states have declared illegal.”
CLIMATE FILES — As the Biden administration tries to lay the groundwork for electric vehicle charging stations, some Western states are warning that the plans aren’t realistic for vast rural areas, WSJ’s Jennifer Hiller reports. States are submitting plans this summer to get money for the buildout from the bipartisan infrastructure law, but state officials warn that some of its requirements (especially having a station every 50 miles and not using rest stops) might not work for them.
TO TELL THE TRUTH SOCIAL — The SEC is stepping up its investigation of communications between Truth Social and the blank check acquisition company it’s planning to merge with, reports Axios’ Dan Primack. “Of particular interest would be if the two sides negotiated prior to [the acquisition company] going public, which would have been illegal.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
PULLOUT FALLOUT — As the U.S. starves the Taliban financially, Afghans are increasingly struggling under the strain of literal hunger, with each government pointing the finger at the other, WaPo’s Susannah George reports from Dezwari. The humanitarian calamity is putting millions of lives at risk. “The children scream from the hunger at night,” former security guard AHMED SHAH JAMSHIDI tells her. “Sometimes all we have is donated stale bread and tea. And when we run out of tea, I just gather grass to boil with the water.”
WAR IN UKRAINE
LATEST ON THE GROUND — Russia came even closer today to taking full control of Sievierodonetsk in Ukraine’s east, pushing into the center of the city, per the NYT.
— Amid the Russian onslaught, “Ukraine’s fate will largely depend on how fast and in what quantities these heavy weapons arrive” from the West, WSJ’s Yaroslav Trofimov and Stephen Fidler report.
THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO — If Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN goes to the most extreme course of action and uses a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, there’s “no playbook and little agreement about how the U.S. would respond,” NBC’s Ken Dilanian Dan De Luce and Courtney Kube report. American officials see no indications that Russia is planning to do so, but they’ve been playing out war games scenarios for months. Much would depend on the nature and scale of the weapons’ use.
SNEAK PEEK — Bret Baier is moderating the policy debate today between Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). It’s available to stream on Fox Nation today and on Fox News this Saturday at 7 p.m. If you don’t have a Fox Nation subscription, don’t worry: We spoke to Baier to get a preview of some topics that he’s focusing on.
Here’s what he told us: “One topic will be gas prices. Should gas prices be high? Is this the big transition that President [Joe] Biden is referring to? Should the government try to get prices down? If so, how? If not, why not? They are on different sides of the issue on this because Bernie Sanders has always talked about a transition to cleaner, greener energy, so that split will be showcased in how they answer those questions. I’m looking forward to finding out if there is any common ground on any issues, let alone multiple issues.” Pic from inside the Kennedy Institute … Watch a clip
DEMOCRACY ON TV — A new study from the Center for Media & Social Impact at American University, in partnership with MTV Entertainment Studios and Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote, examines portrayals of government on television, finding that “civic themes appear in nearly one-third of episodes, but authentic portrayals of civic leadership are lacking.”
MEDIA MOVES — The Boston Globe’s D.C. bureau is adding Lissandra Villa as a national political reporter covering the midterms and Tal Kopan as deputy bureau chief. Villa most recently was a national politics reporter at BuzzFeed and is a Time alum. Kopan currently is a Washington correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.
TRANSITIONS — Jeff Nussbaum will be counselor at West Wing Writers, where he was partner before joining the White House. He most recently was senior speechwriter and special assistant to Biden. … Preet Bharara is now a partner at WilmerHale. He’s a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. More from Bloomberg Law … Dentons has added Matthew Cutts as head of U.S. policy and government relations, Callie Fuselier as a principal, Patrick Kirby as a senior managing associate and Elaine Hillgrove as a managing associate. Cutts is a top tax lobbyist who previously was at Squire Patton Boggs.
WEEKEND WEDDINGS — Jodi Richardson, public affairs adviser at Holland & Knight and a Todd Young alum, and Ryan Chandler, senior director for strategy and administration in the office of the assistant secretary of Labor for administration and management, got married Saturday at Gari Melchers’ Belmont in Fredericksburg, Va. They met in 2014 at the Tune Inn. Pic … Another pic
— Harry Baumgarten, VP and general counsel at the Grundy Commons and a Debbie Wasserman Schultz alum, and Deepika Murala, an attending physician at Beebe Medical Center, got married Friday at the Society of the Cincinnati. They met on Hinge. Pic
— Nathaniel Holmes, deputy director of scheduling and advance for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Erica Brackett, an associate at DLA Piper, got married Saturday at the Cincinnati Art Museum. They met through mutual friends at a party. Pic by Shelby Odessa … Another pic