Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Last week, as the Chairman noted, our Committee began outlining a seven part plan overseen by President Trump to overturn the 2020 election. Today, we will begin looking at the initial part of that plan: President Trump’s effort to convince millions of Americans that the election was stolen from him by overwhelming fraud.
A federal court has already reviewed elements of the Committee’s evidence on this point, and said this: [quote] “In the months following the election, numerous credible sources – from the President’s inner circle to agency leadership to statisticians – informed President Trump and Dr. Eastman that there was no evidence of election fraud” sufficient to overturn the 2020 Presidential election.
The Court’s opinion methodically documents each of the principal reasons for that conclusion, and I would urge all those watching to read it. Today, we will begin to show the American people some of our evidence.
Today, you will hear much more from former Attorney General Bill Barr’s recorded testimony, and you will hear in greater detail what others in the Department told President Trump – that his claims of election fraud were nonsense.
You will also hear much more from President Trump’s own campaign experts, who had also concluded that his fraud claims could not be supported.
Let me focus briefly on just three points now.
First, you will hear firsthand testimony that the President’s campaign advisors urged him to await the counting of votes and not to declare victory on election night. The President understood even before the election that many more Biden voters had voted by mail – because President Trump ignored the advice of his campaign experts and told his supporters only to vote in person. Donald Trump knew before the election that the counting of those mail-in ballots in several states would not begin until late in the day and would not be complete for multiple days.
This was expected, reported, and widely known.
You will also hear testimony that President Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night, and instead followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani, to just claim he won, and insist that the vote counting stop – to falsely claim everything was fraudulent. He falsely told the American people that the election was not legitimate, in his words [quote] “a major fraud.” Millions of Americans believed him.
Second, pay attention to what Donald Trump and his legal team said repeatedly about Dominion voting machines – far flung conspiracies with a deceased Venezuelan Communist allegedly pulling the strings.
This was [quote] “complete nonsense,” as Bill Barr said.
Trump’s own campaign advisors, his Department of Justice, and his cybersecurity experts all told him the same thing. Here, for example, is White House lawyer Eric Herschmann; his view was shared by many of the Trump team whom we interviewed:
“I thought the Dominion stuff was…I never saw any evidence whatsoever to sustain those allegations.”
And third, as Mike Pence’s staff started to get a sense for what Donald Trump had planned for January 6th, they called the campaign experts to give them a briefing on election fraud and all of the other election claims. “On January 2nd, the General Counsel of the Trump Campaign, Matthew Morgan – this is the campaign’s chief lawyer – summarized what the Campaign had concluded weeks earlier – that none of the arguments about fraud or anything else could actually change the outcome of the election.
“What was generally discussed on that topic was whether the fraud, maladministration, abuse or irregularities, if aggregated and read most favorably to the campaign, would that be outcome determinative. And I think everyone’s assessment in the room, at least amongst the staff, Marc Short, myself and Greg Jacob, was that it was not sufficient to be outcome determinative.”
As is obvious, this was before the attack on the Capitol. The Trump campaign legal team knew there was no legitimate argument – fraud, irregularities, or anything – to overturn the election. And yet, President Trump went ahead with his plans for January 6th anyway.
Mr. Chairman, hundreds of our countrymen have faced criminal charges, many are serving criminal sentences because they believed what Donald Trump said about the election and they acted on it. They came to Washington D.C. at his request, they marched on the Capitol at his request, and hundreds of them besieged and invaded the building at the heart of our Constitutional Republic.
As one conservative editorial board put it recently: [quote] “Mr. Trump betrayed his supporters by conning them on Jan. 6th, and he is still doing it.”
Another conservative editorial board, that has long supported President Trump, said last week: Donald Trump [quote] “won’t stop insisting that 2020 was ‘stolen’ even though he has offered no proof that that is true.” And this: Donald Trump now [quote] “clings to more fantastical theories, such as Dinesh D’Souza’s debunked “2000 Mules,” even as recounts in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin confirm Trump lost.”
Those are the correct conclusions to draw from the evidence gathered by this Committee. We have much more evidence to show the American people on this point than we can reasonably show in one hearing. But today we will begin.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
"Cheney Opening Remarks At Select Committee’s Second Public Hearing." Congresswoman Liz Cheney press release, June 13, 2022. https://cheney.house.gov/2022/06/13/cheney-opening-remarks-at-select-committees-second-public-hearing.
"THOMPSON, CHENEY, & LOFGREN OPENING STATEMENTS AT SELECT COMMITTEE HEARING." Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol press release, June 13, 2022. https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/thompson-cheney-lofgren-opening-statements-june-13th-select-committee-hearing.