On 6th January 2020, rioters invaded the capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden as the President-elect of the United States. After over a year of what many believed was an attack on the democracy of the United States, the House committee charged with the responsibility to investigate the incident has finally released part of its report.
The report is different from other reports because this one is not just a written report but a report that gives visual evidence. It focused on only one person, the former President of the United States, Donald Trump.
After Joe Biden was elected President of the United States, then-president Donald Trump rejected the results. He said there was widespread rigging in favor of the opposition. The chairman of the bi-partisan committee to investigate the riot is Rep. Bennie Thompson, while Republican Rep. Liz Cheney is the vice-chairman.
The committee’s findings have now disclosed how the former president could have caused the riot, with testimonies from his family and team.
In his remarks, Mr. Thompson said the committee was ready to expose how Donald Trump deliberately misled Americans to believe he won the election, thereby inciting his supporters to violence.
“We will tell the story of how Donald Trump lost an election, and knew he lost an election, and as a result of his loss decided to wage an attack on our democracy, an attack on the American people, by trying to rob you of your voice in our democracy,” Rep Thompson said.
“In doing so, lit the fuse that led to the horrific violence of Jan. 6, when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol,” he added.
Vice-Chairman of the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney (Republican), said: “Donald Trump and his advisers knew that he had lost the elections. But despite this, President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to convince huge portions of the U.S population that fraud had stolen the election from him.”
TESTIMONIES AT THE HEARING
The committee played recordings of interviews with Trump’s current and former associates, including his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The following were some testimonies at the hearing.
Among those that testified were former Attorney General William Barr. The former attorney used harsh words about the behavior of his former boss, Donald Trump, calling what happened a “bullshit.”
“I told the President it was bullshit. I did not want to be a part of it. We cannot live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its own views,” Barr told the committee.
On whether the rioters went to the Capitol voluntarily, Mr. Barr said: “they were obviously influenced.” The former attorney also narrated how the Ministry of Justice investigated the supposed election fraud and found nothing.
“There was never, there was never an indication of interest in what the facts were. And my opinion then and my opinion now is that the election was not stolen by fraud,” William Barr said.
Ivanka, a daughter of the former President, was not on his father’s side. During an interview with the committee, she said she believed William Barr to the extent of not doubting him.
“I respect Attorney General Barr, So I accepted what he was saying,” Ivanka said.
Another notable testimony was that of Police Officer Caroline Edwards, an eyewitness to the events of January 6. She described the riot as a “war scene.”
“What I saw was just a war scene. It was something like I had seen in the movies. I could not believe my eyes,” Caroline said.
I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos,” she added.
John Wright is a Trump supporter currently awaiting trial based on the events of January 6, 2021. His testimony suggested that he was invited to the Capitol by President Donald Trump.
“I knew why I was there, and that is because he called me there, and he laid out what is happening in our government,” Wright told the committee.
Another rioter who testified to the committee was Robert Shomack, currently sentenced to 36 months probation based on the invasion of the Capitol. He said: “Trump has only asked me for two things. He asked me for my vote, and he asked me to come on January 6th. How did Trump ask his supporters to come out on that day?
On December 19, 2020, Donald Trump invited protesters to storm the Capitol to protest the so-called election fraud.
“Peter Navarro releases a 36-page report alleging election fraud, more than sufficient to swing victory to Trump. A great report by Peter. Statitstically impossible to have lost the 2020 election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild,” President Trump said on Twitter.
Most of his supporters allegedly stormed the protest ground on the above instruction. That tweet was among the reasons why Twitter banned the former U.S President.
ALLEGATIONS OF ELECTION FRAUD AND COUNTER-ALLEGATIONS
In his protest of the election results, Rudy Giuliani had said there were dead voters in Pennsylvania. This allegation was also discoursed by the report of the committee. A Republican who served in the Philadelphia Board of Elections, Al Schmidt, countered that claim saying there were no cases of dead voters.
“Not only was there no evidence of 8,000 dead voters voting in Pennsylvania, but there also wasn’t evidence of eight,” Al Schmidt told the committee. Former Attorney General William Barr also restated that there was nothing to prove the allegations of dead voters in Pennsylvania.
SUITCASE OF BALLOTS
During the vote-counting in the State of Georgia, former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani claimed that a suitcase filled with ballots was added to votes. Trump and his supporters held to this as a case of electoral fraud.
BJay Pak, an attorney in the State of Georgia, countered the claim saying it was a baseless claim.
“We found that the suitcase full of ballots, the alleged black suitcase that was being seen pulled from under the table, was actually an official lockbox where ballots were kept safe,” Pak testified personally. “We found out that there was a mistake in terms of a misunderstanding that they were done counting ballots or tallying ballots for the night. And the partisan watchers that were assigned by each of the respective parties were announced and sent home.”
He said it was a mistake noticed early enough. He added that Rudy’s claim was baseless and that there were cases of electoral fraud.
Peter Navarro, a former White House adviser, had claimed that Dominion’s voting machines were changing votes and other allegations of voter fraud. To counter the claim, Alex Cannon, a former lawyer to the Trump campaign, said the hand recount of the votes in Georgia is enough to kill any claim of voting machine fraud.
“I remember telling him that I didn’t believe the Dominion allegations because I thought the hand recount in Georgia would resolve any issues with the technology problem and with Dominion, or Dominion flipping votes,” Cannon told the committee.
Cannon added that he told Vice President Pence in November 2020 that he did not find any evidence of fraud in the election results.
WILL TRUMP FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES?
The committee has not decided what will happen to Donald Trump or his close allies involved in the electoral fraud speculations. However, the chairman of the committee has hinted that the committee will leave that decision to the Ministry of Justice.
“We’re going to tell the facts. If the Department of Justice looks at it and assumes that there’s something that needs further review, I’m sure they’ll do it,” Thompson said.
“Our job is to look at the facts and circumstances around January 6, what caused it, and make recommendations after that,” he added.
In another development, Republican vice-chairman Liz Cheney said the committee “has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. We will announce a decision on that at an appropriate time,” she said on Twitter.
Donald Trump did not hold back from backlashing what he termed a “kangaroo court.” In a 12-page statement released by the former President, he said the government was only using the hearing to distract Americans from its failure.
“Seventeen months after the events of January 6th, Democrats are unable to offer solutions. They are desperate to change the narrative of a failing nation, without even making mention of the havoc and death caused by the Radical Left just months earlier,” Mr. Trump said in the statement.
“Make no mistake, they control the government. They own this disaster. They are hoping that these hearings will somehow alter their failing prospects,” Trump added.
The committee postponed its hearing till Thursday, and the committee will meet again a few more times next week to finalize the hearing.