Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Today, we will begin examining President Trump’s effort to overturn the election by exerting pressure on state officials and state legislatures. Donald Trump had a direct and personal role in this effort, as did Rudy Giuliani, as did John Eastman. In other words, the same people who were attempting to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes illegally, were also simultaneously working to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election at the state level. Each of these efforts to overturn the election is independently serious; each deserves attention both by Congress and by our Department of Justice. But, as a federal court has already indicated, these efforts were also part of a broader plan. And all of this was done in preparation for January 6th.
I would note two points for particular focus today:
First, today you will hear about calls made by President Trump to officials of Georgia and other states. As you listen to these tapes, keep in mind what Donald Trump already knew at the time he was making those calls – he had been told over and over again that his stolen election allegations were nonsense. For example, this is what former Attorney General Bill Barr said to President Trump about allegations in Georgia:
[BEGIN CLIP] FORMER AG BILL BARR: “We took a look, hard look at this ourselves. And based on our review of it, including interviews of the key witnesses, the Fulton County allegations were – had no merit. The ballots under the table were legitimate ballots. They weren’t in a suitcase. They had been pre-opened for eventually feeding into the machine. All the stuff about the water leak and that there was some subterfuge involved, we felt there was some confusion, but there was no evidence of a subterfuge to create an opportunity to feed things into the count. And so we didn’t see any evidence of fraud in the Fulton County episode.” [END CLIP]
And Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue told Donald Trump this:
[BEGIN CLIP] FORMER ACTING DEPUTY AG RICHARD DONOGHUE: “And I said something to the effect of, “Sir, we’ve done dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews. The major allegations are not supported by the evidence developed.” [END CLIP]
Mr. Trump was told by his own advisors that he had no basis for his stolen election claims, yet he continued to pressure state officials to change the election results. Second, you will hear about a number of threats and efforts to pressure state officials to reverse the election outcome.
One of our witnesses today, Gabriel Sterling, explicitly warned President Trump about potential violence on December 1st 2020, more than a month before January 6th. You will see excerpts from that video repeatedly today:
[BEGIN CLIP] GABRIEL STERLING: “It’s all gone too far. All of it. Joe diGenova today asked for Chris Krebs, a patriot who ran CISA, to be shot. A 20 something tech in Gwinnett County today has death threats and a noose put out, saying he should be hung for treason because he was transferring a report on batches from an EMS to a county computer so we could read it.
It has to stop. Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show something. My boss, Secretary Raffensperger, his address is out there. They have people doing caravans in front of their house. They’ve had people come on to their property. It has to stop. This is elections. This is the backbone of democracy. And all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this.” [END CLIP]
The point is this: Donald Trump did not care about the threats of violence. He did not condemn them, he made no effort to stop them; he went forward with his fake allegations anyway.
One more point: I would urge all of those watching today to focus on the evidence the Committee will present. Do not be distracted by politics. This is serious. We cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.
Finally, I want to thank our witnesses today for all of your service to our country. Today, all of America will hear about the selfless actions of these men and women, who acted honorably to uphold the law, protect our freedom and preserve our Constitution. Today, Mr. Chairman, we will all see an example of what truly makes America great.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
"Cheney Select Committee Opening Remarks: 'This Is Serious. We Cannot Let America Become A Nation Of Conspiracy Theories & Thug Violence'." Congresswoman Liz Cheney press release, June 21, 2022. https://cheney.house.gov/2022/06/21/cheney-select-committee-opening-remarks-this-is-serious-we-cannot-let-america-become-a-nation-of-conspiracy-theories-thug-violence.
"THOMPSON, CHENEY, & SCHIFF OPENING STATEMENTS AT SELECT COMMITTEE HEARING." Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol press release, June 21, 2022. https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/transcripts-thompson-cheney-schiff-opening-statements-select-committee-hearing.