Jan. 6 hearing takeaways: Trump’s mind ‘made up,’ the Giuliani factor

Jan. 6 hearing takeaways: Trump’s mind ‘made up,’ the Giuliani factor

thank you. Mr Chairman Mr Xiao old. I’d like you to explain *** turn that was thrown around *** lot during the election and that’s the so called red mirage. What does that mean? So In the 40 or 50 years let’s say that Americans have increasingly chosen to vote by mail or early or absentee. Democrats prefer that method of voting more than republicans do. So basically in every election, republicans win election Day and democrats win the early vote and then you wait and start counting and it depends on which ones you count first but usually it’s election day votes that get counted first and you see the Republican shoot ahead and then the process of bailing and binding and unbinding all those mail in votes uh in some states like pennsylvania refused to count the votes first. So you have to wait for all of that to come in. So in every election certainly *** national election you expect to see the Republican with *** lead but it’s not really *** lead. Um When you put together *** jigsaw puzzle, it doesn’t matter which piece you put in first, it ends up with the same image. So for us who cares? But that’s because no candidate had ever tried to avail themselves of this quirk in the election counting system. We had gone to pains uh and I’m proud of the pains we went to to make sure that we were informing viewers that this was gonna happen because the trump campaign and the president had made it clear that they were going to try to exploit this anomaly. And we knew it was gonna be bigger because the percentage of early votes was higher, right? We went from about 45% of the votes being early and absentee too because of the pandemic that increased by about 50%. So we knew it would be longer. We knew it would be more. So we wanted to keep telling viewers, hey look, the number that you see here is sort of irrelevant because it’s only *** small percentage of these votes. So this red mirage, that’s really what you expected to happen on Election Night happens every time. Thank you Mr Star walt. I’d like to play *** clip of Attorney General Bill Barr who also explains what was expected to happen on election night, right out of the box on election night. The President claimed that there was major fraud underway. I mean, this happened as far as I could tell before, there was actually any potential of looking at evidence and it seemed to be based on the dynamics that that at the end of the evening *** lot of Democratic votes came in which changed the vote counts in certain states. And that seemed to be the basis for this broad claim that there was major fraud. And I didn’t think much of that because people have been talking for weeks and everyone understood for weeks that that was going to be what happened on election night. Mr Stepien obviously could not be with us today and it’s proper for him to be with his wife as they welcome their child. But he also had discussions with the President about the red mirage. That is that it would be *** long night and that early votes would favor him but lots more votes would be counted over the course of the night and the days after. So let’s play *** clip one from our interview with Mr Stepien. Ii recounted back to that conversation with him in which I said just like I said in 2016 was gonna be *** long night. I told him in 2020 that um you know there were it was gonna be *** process again. Um as you know the the early returns are gonna be you know positive and we’re gonna you know be watching the returns of ballots as you know they rolled in thereafter. So is it fair to say you’re trying to present what you thought would be *** realistic picture of what might happen over the course of that night being election night that night and the days that followed? Yeah I I always uh I always you know I always told the President the truth and uh you know I you know I think he expected that from me and I told him it was gonna be *** process, it was gonna be you know you know we have to wait and see how this turned out. Um so I just like I did in 2016, I did the same thing in 2020. So let’s watch *** short clip of President trump speaking after he received that information from his campaign advisers, we want all voting to stop, We don’t want them to find any ballots that 4:00 AM and add them to the list. So when former President Trump said that it contradicted what his advisers had warned would happen, we all know that mail in ballots played an important role in the 2020 election. However, President trump continuously discouraged mail in voting. Mr Stepien was so concerned about the president’s position on mail in voting that in the summer of 2020, he met with President trump along with House minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Let’s play clip four meeting that was had um in particular. Um I invited Kevin McCarthy to join the meeting. He being of like, mind on the issue with me um in which we made our case for for why we believed mail and balloting mail and voting um not to be *** bad thing for his campaign. Um but you know, the President’s mind was was was made up. And you understand um you know how many times to, you know, go to the well on *** particular topic. Yeah, I understand, tell me *** little bit more about the argument that you and mr McCarthy made to the President in that meeting as to why it wasn’t *** bad thing that mail and voting was available, Largely two pillars to that argument, both of which I’ve previously mentioned. one, you know, leaving *** good deal to chance. Uh huh. Pushing or urging your voters to vote only on Election day leaves *** lot to chance. Um That’s that’s *** and B. Also previously mentioned um the fact that the trump campaign Republican National Committee, the Republican Party, had an advantage of grassroots workers and volunteers on the ground that would allow um you know, an advantage to enhance return rates of ballots that were mailed. Those were the two Yeah, I say. And what if anything, do you recall Representative McCarthy saying during that meeting, we were we were echoing the same argument. I mean, his his words echoed echoed mine and and vice versa on those, on those two topics. Mr Star wall, you were at the decision desk at Fox News on Election night and you called Arizona early for president biden, which was controversial. How did you make that call? And where did you think the race stood in the early hours of the next day? Well, it was really controversial to our competitors who we beat so badly by making the correct call first. Our decision desk was the best in the business, and I was very proud to be *** part of it because we had we had partnered with the Associated Press and the National Opinion Research center at the University of Chicago. Thanks to my colleague and friend ARN in michigan had built *** wonderful device for forecasting the outcomes of elections. So we had *** different set of data than our competitors did. We had more research and we had *** better system and we had *** great team. Um, so what you’re waiting to see is do the actual votes match up with the expectations in the poll. The real votes are testing the quality of your pole in targeted precincts and in targeted places. And let me tell you our poll in, Arizona was beautiful and it was doing just what we wanted it to do. And it was cooking up just right and at some point and I forget exactly who, but at some point it became clear that Arizona was getting ready to make *** call. So we around, uh, you know, my boss, Bill Sammon said we’re not making any call until everybody says yes because that was always our policy unit anonymity. And you have to understand in this room, you have, you know, the best people from academia democrats, republicans, *** broad cross section of people who had worked together for *** decade were really serious about this stuff. So we knew it would be *** consequential call because it was one of five states that really mattered right. Wisconsin michigan pennsylvania Georgia. Arizona were the ones that we were watching. We knew it would be significant to call any one of those five, But we already knew trump’s chances were very small and getting smaller based on what we had seen. So we were able to make the call early. Uh we were able to beat the competition. Uh we looked around the room, everybody says, yay, and on we go. And by the time we found out how much everybody was freaking out and losing their minds over this call, we were already trying to call the next day. We had already moved on. We were in Georgia, we were to north Carolina, we were looking at these other states. So we thought it was, we were pleased, but not surprised, You know, after the election as of November seven in your judgment, what were the chances of president trump winning the election after that point? Yes. I mean, I guess you could, it’s always possible that you could have, you know, *** truckload of ballots be found somewhere, I suppose. But once you get into this space, you know, um, ahead of today. I thought about what are the largest margins that could ever be overturned by *** recount? And the normal kind of the kind of stuff that we heard mike pence talking about sounding like *** normal Republican that night when he said, you know, we’ll keep every challenge, nothing like that in *** recount. You’re talking about hundreds of votes when we think about calling *** race? One of the things that we would think about is is it outside the margin of *** recount? And when we think about that margin, we think about in modern history, you’re talking about 1000 votes, 1500 votes at the way, way outside. Normally, you’re talking about hundreds of votes, maybe 300 votes that are going to change. So the idea that through any normal process in any of these states, remember he had to do it thrice right? He needed three of these states to change. And in order to do that. I mean, you’re you’re at an infant, you’re better off to play the powerball, uh, than to have that come in on november 7th. The other major news outlets called the race for president, biden. Now, Mr Stepien told the committee that he thought the odds were, and this is *** quote, very, very, very bleak and held *** meeting with the president that same day. Let’s show clip, eight video clip eight with each day that wore on. I mean, the trajectory of the race on election night trump ahead um in in in many states. And as that week we’re on, as the third became the fourth, became the fifth and so on and so forth. And the vote by mail ballots were tabulated, you know, trump’s trump’s lead, you know, grew more narrow and and and some places biden surpassed, you know, trump in the vote totals. So as the week we’re on as we paid attention to those numbers every single multiple times *** day um You know, internally um you know, I I was feeling less confident for sure what was your view on the state of the election at that point? Um You know, very very very bleak. Um You know, I we we told him um the group that went over there outlined, you know, My belief and chances for success at this point. And then we pegged that at you know, five maybe 10% based on recounts that were that that you know, either were automatically initiated or or could be could be initiated based on you know, realistic legal challenges. Not all the legal challenges that eventually were pursued, but you know, it was, you know, My belief is that it was very very 5-10%. It’s not *** very good optimistic outlook. Now as President trump and others continued to claim that the election was stolen. There were lawyers who were part of the campaign campaign lawyers who were responsible for investigating the fraud claims that includes Alex Cannon, who could not validate the claims that were being made, including those being made by the president. That’s roll video 15. This is an email, what It’s two emails actually the first is from Alex Cannon to You and Faith McPherson. And then you forward that email on to Mark Meadows Justin clark and Jason miller. The subject being az federal I. D. Voters. Um If you look at the original email there said Bill, we completed the Az analysis you requested, I assume that’s about Arizona. Um And because of the substantial uncertainty surrounding the databases, this is *** highly unreliable way to identify ineligible voters. Can you explain the task that you gave to Miss Cannon um for this Arizona analysis? Sure. Um previously I um describe some of my frustration with some of the claims that people would would throw up President trump regarding, you know, Yeah, I need to look at this, you know, this happened in this state or that happened in that state and it would be, you know, those would flow to us um to look into. I talked about that before, I think, you know, this is an example of that. I recall, I recall um in Arizona someone had thrown out, I believe this to be the claim that there were thousands of um illegal citizens people not eligible to vote having cast their ballots in Arizona someone had thrown out that claim to President trump. Um and with, you know, the margins being as close as they were, as previously described, you know, that could potentially matter. Um So this wild claim was thrown out, which, you know, on his face didn’t seem, you know, realistic or possible with me. Um I asked Alex to look at the, you know, the claim and I haven’t read this full email, but I recall the response to that um the reality that was not illegal citizens voting in the election, It was like overseas voters voting in the election. So obviously people who are eligible to vote when these findings were passed up the chain to president trump. He became frustrated and he replaced the campaign’s legal team. Let’s play Clip 14. You know, I think the president um it was during the second week where things like you displayed were occurring where he was growing increasingly and happy with um you know, his team, you know, me less so because I was less involved at this point, but still me, um probably increasingly unhappy with Justin clark. Um and that that kind of, you know, um you know, paved the way for, you know, Justin to be moved out and marriage early on to be moved in as the person in charge of, you know, the legal side of the campaign and for all intents and purposes campaign at that point. Now, when Mr Stepien became campaign manager, he was the second uh trump campaign manager for the 2020 race. And there were only about 100 and 15 days until Election Day. So let’s play uh the video, um I inherited *** campaign that was the day I was hired was Believe President Trump’s low point in the 2020 daily average polling against president biden. It was, it was *** campaign at *** low point in the polls. Um It was structurally and fiscally deficient. Um you know, I, you know, there was *** great deal wrong with the campaign in both of those um in both of those areas. Um so most of my day spent fixing what, And I think I took over with 115 days left in the campaign. Most of my time spent fixing the things that could be fixed With 115 days left in the campaign. Now, Mr Stepien has been in the campaign field for *** long time and he worked for lots of different candidates and campaigns. He testified to this committee about his concerns, given the claims that Mr Giuliani and MS Powell and their team were making *** publicly let’s play clip, 15, okay. And was it important for you, Mr Stepien to sort of pull back just for your own professional reputation? You didn’t want to be associated with some of what you were hearing from the Giuliani team and others that that sort of stepped in in the wake of your departure. I didn’t mind being categorized, there were two groups of family we call them kind of my team and Rudy’s team. I didn’t mind being characterized as being part of team normal as as reporters, you know, kind of started to do around that point in time. Um you know, I said, you know, hours ago, early on that, You know, I’ve been doing this for *** long time. Um 25 years and I’ve spanned, you know, political ideologies from trump to McCain, to Bush to Christie, you know, and, you know, I can work under *** lot of circumstances for *** lot of varied, you know, candidates and politicians, but situation where, and I think along the way, I’ve built up *** pretty good, I hope *** good reputation for being honest and professional, and I I didn’t think what was happening was necessarily honest or professional at that point in time. So that led to me stepping away.

The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection systemically made the case in its second hearing Monday that Trump and his advisers knew that his claims of fraud in the 2020 election were false.The argument is key to the committee’s investigation as the nine-member panel details its evidence about what led to the violent insurrection. The rioters who broke into the Capitol that day and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory were echoing Trump’s falsehoods that he, not Biden, had rightfully won the election.Takeaways from Monday’s hearing:A witness pulls out, but video tells the story The hearing began with a scramble as Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien, the panel’s top Monday witness, said he would not appear due to a “family emergency.” The committee’s chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said Stepien’s wife was in labor.But the committee had a plan B — hours of Stepien’s previous interview with the panel that was recorded on video. The committee aired multiple clips of that interview, along with others, as the hearing unfolded.Stepien told investigators that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was urging Trump to declare victory on election night, despite Stepien’s warnings that it was “way too early” to make a prediction like that.”My belief, my recommendation, was to say that votes were still being counted, it’s too early to tell, too early to call the race,” Stepien said in one clip.Yet Trump went to the podium in the White House press room and said that the early results were “a fraud on the American public” and that “frankly, we did win this election.”Trump’s ‘mind was made up’ Trump’s advisers told him repeatedly that he should wait on the results and should not declare that there was widespread election fraud. But Trump would not listen, and increasingly relied on wild claims that were pushed by Giuliani and Trump attorney Sidney Powell, among others, according to testimony.The panel showed video of Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and campaign aide Jason Miller. Ivanka Trump told the panel that “it was clear” the election wouldn’t be called on election night, and Kushner said he had told Trump at one point that Giuliani’s advice was “not the approach I would take.” But Trump responded that he had confidence in Giuliani.Miller said there was a meeting on election night in which he told Trump that they shouldn’t declare victory until they had a better sense of the numbers. But Trump told a room of advisers that anyone who didn’t agree with Giuliani was being “weak.”Stepien said his group of advisers was dubbed “team normal.” Another White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, said that the theories of fraud — including Powell’s assertions that voting machines were rigged to switch votes — were “nuts.”Former Attorney General William Barr, who declared publicly at the time that there was no evidence behind Trump’s fraud claims, said the president was increasingly becoming “detached from reality.”A monthslong campaign Trump’s claims of fraud did not start after election day. The committee showed clips where Trump previewed his strategy in speeches throughout his 2020 campaign. In August of that year, he told an audience that fraud was the only way he would lose.Stepien told the committee that he and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy had met with Trump in the summer of 2020 and made a two-pronged case for why he should stop criticizing mail-in voting. He and McCarthy told Trump that he was leaving “a lot to chance” and that there were GOP party workers on the ground who could help get mail-in votes for Trump.McCarthy, who has declined to cooperate with the Jan. 6 panel despite a subpoena, was “echoing the same argument,” Stepien said.”But the president’s mind was made up,” Stepien said.The ‘red mirage’Chris Stirewalt, a former political editor for Fox News Channel, testified in person at the hearing. Stirewalt made the election night call that President Joe Biden won Arizona – a moment that prompted “anger and disappointment” in Trump’s inner sanctum at the White House, Miller said.Stirewalt explained that the network, along with others, had expected that there would be a so-called “red mirage” at the beginning of the evening as in-person Republican votes came in, and many of the mail-in votes that would be counted later on would lean Democratic. He noted it happens every election.Trump had not only exploited that pattern to make false claims of fraud, but contributed to it in his campaign to call mail-in voting into question.”We had gone to pains, and I’m proud of the pains, we went to, to make sure that we were informing viewers that this was going to happen because the Trump campaign and the president had made it clear that they were going to try to exploit this anomaly,” Stirewalt said.___Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Kevin Freking contributed.

The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection systemically made the case in its second hearing Monday that Trump and his advisers knew that his claims of fraud in the 2020 election were false.

The argument is key to the committee’s investigation as the nine-member panel details its evidence about what led to the violent insurrection. The rioters who broke into the Capitol that day and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory were echoing Trump’s falsehoods that he, not Biden, had rightfully won the election.

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Takeaways from Monday’s hearing:

A witness pulls out, but video tells the story

The hearing began with a scramble as Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien, the panel’s top Monday witness, said he would not appear due to a “family emergency.” The committee’s chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said Stepien’s wife was in labor.

But the committee had a plan B — hours of Stepien’s previous interview with the panel that was recorded on video. The committee aired multiple clips of that interview, along with others, as the hearing unfolded.

Stepien told investigators that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was urging Trump to declare victory on election night, despite Stepien’s warnings that it was “way too early” to make a prediction like that.

“My belief, my recommendation, was to say that votes were still being counted, it’s too early to tell, too early to call the race,” Stepien said in one clip.

Yet Trump went to the podium in the White House press room and said that the early results were “a fraud on the American public” and that “frankly, we did win this election.”

Trump’s ‘mind was made up’

Trump’s advisers told him repeatedly that he should wait on the results and should not declare that there was widespread election fraud. But Trump would not listen, and increasingly relied on wild claims that were pushed by Giuliani and Trump attorney Sidney Powell, among others, according to testimony.

The panel showed video of Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and campaign aide Jason Miller. Ivanka Trump told the panel that “it was clear” the election wouldn’t be called on election night, and Kushner said he had told Trump at one point that Giuliani’s advice was “not the approach I would take.” But Trump responded that he had confidence in Giuliani.

Miller said there was a meeting on election night in which he told Trump that they shouldn’t declare victory until they had a better sense of the numbers. But Trump told a room of advisers that anyone who didn’t agree with Giuliani was being “weak.”

Stepien said his group of advisers was dubbed “team normal.” Another White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, said that the theories of fraud — including Powell’s assertions that voting machines were rigged to switch votes — were “nuts.”

Former Attorney General William Barr, who declared publicly at the time that there was no evidence behind Trump’s fraud claims, said the president was increasingly becoming “detached from reality.”

A monthslong campaign

Trump’s claims of fraud did not start after election day. The committee showed clips where Trump previewed his strategy in speeches throughout his 2020 campaign. In August of that year, he told an audience that fraud was the only way he would lose.

Stepien told the committee that he and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy had met with Trump in the summer of 2020 and made a two-pronged case for why he should stop criticizing mail-in voting. He and McCarthy told Trump that he was leaving “a lot to chance” and that there were GOP party workers on the ground who could help get mail-in votes for Trump.

McCarthy, who has declined to cooperate with the Jan. 6 panel despite a subpoena, was “echoing the same argument,” Stepien said.

“But the president’s mind was made up,” Stepien said.

The ‘red mirage’

Chris Stirewalt, a former political editor for Fox News Channel, testified in person at the hearing. Stirewalt made the election night call that President Joe Biden won Arizona – a moment that prompted “anger and disappointment” in Trump’s inner sanctum at the White House, Miller said.

Stirewalt explained that the network, along with others, had expected that there would be a so-called “red mirage” at the beginning of the evening as in-person Republican votes came in, and many of the mail-in votes that would be counted later on would lean Democratic. He noted it happens every election.

Trump had not only exploited that pattern to make false claims of fraud, but contributed to it in his campaign to call mail-in voting into question.

“We had gone to pains, and I’m proud of the pains, we went to, to make sure that we were informing viewers that this was going to happen because the Trump campaign and the president had made it clear that they were going to try to exploit this anomaly,” Stirewalt said.

___

Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Kevin Freking contributed.

Contributed by local news sources

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