Trump’s former campaign manager abruptly drops out of 2nd Jan. 6 hearing – National
Donald TrumpBill Stepien’s former campaign manager abruptly withdrew on Monday before the House committee investigated January 6 riots at the Capitol, citing a family emergency, the panel said.
Stepien is expected to be a key witness as the panel delves deeper into what it calls the “big lie,” false claims by the defeated Republican president about fraud. Voters fueled his relentless drive to overturn the 2020 election and caused a mob of his supporters to lay siege to the US Capitol.
The commission said Stepien’s attorney would appear and issue a statement on the record, and it pushed back the start time as lawmakers and staff jostled each other over changing the plan.
Monday’s hearing was set to continue with other first-hand witnesses as committee members said they discovered enough evidence for the Justice Department to consider an unprecedented criminal indictment. for the former president. Stepien was subpoenaed for his public testimony.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair of the House of Representatives Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., will lead the morning hearing after last week’s blockbuster session drew nearly 20 million Americans. Come see the finds at prime time.
Over the past year, the committee has investigated the most violent attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 to ensure such an attack never happens again. Lawmakers hope to show that Trump’s attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory poses a serious threat to democracy.
Stepien, a longtime Trump ally, oversaw the “transformation” of Trump’s presidential campaign into a “Stop Theft” effort, according to a subpoena issued by the committee this summer. fall last year. He will likely face questions about what Trump insiders told the president about the election results. Stepien is currently a top campaign adviser to Trump-approved House candidate Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Cheney in the Wyoming Republican primary.
The committee is also set to hear testimony from Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor closely involved with election night coverage who made the decision to declare Arizona a Biden victory. . He wrote about his experiences later in a press conference and could be asked about Trump’s actions when Fox News announced that Biden had won.
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A second group of witnesses testifying Monday will include election officials, investigators and experts who are likely to discuss Trump’s responses to the election, including dozens The court challenge failed and his actions differed from US standards.
Among them was former US attorney in Atlanta, BJay Pak, who abruptly resigned after Trump pressured Georgia state officials to overturn his presidential defeat. Trump’s desire to fire Pak was disloyal, but Pak resigned after Trump’s call to urge Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state became public.
The panel will also hear from former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, the only Republican on the election board and who faced criticism when the state’s election was called. called Biden, as did election attorney and Washington attorney Benjamin Ginsberg.
As he mulled another run for the White House, Trump insisted the committee’s investigation was a “witch hunt.” Last week, he said January 6 “represents the greatest movement in the history of our country.”
Nine people have died in the riot and its aftermath, including a Trump supporter who was shot dead by police. More than 800 people have been arrested during the siege, and members of two extremist groups have been charged with rare sedation charges in their leading role in the attack on the Capitol.
In its first hearing, the committee presented how Trump was repeatedly told by trusted aides and officials at the highest levels of government that there was no election fraud on this scale. results can be changed. But Trump pursued his false claims about the election and signaled supporters to Washington on January 6 to overturn Biden’s victory as Congress was set to certify the results of the election. Electoral College.
Additional evidence will be released during hearings this week, focusing on Trump’s decision to ignore election results and the cases where courts have ruled against him.
Monday’s hearing will also turn to the millions of dollars Trump’s team has raised in the run-up to January 6, according to a committee aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the details.
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The commission said most of those interviewed in the investigation came forward voluntarily, although some wanted the subpoenas to appear in public. Stepien has been subpoenaed, and Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said the committee’s decision to call him was politically motivated.
The lawmakers pointed out that perhaps their most important audience during the hearing could be Attorney General Merrick Garland, who must decide if his department can and should prosecute Trump. . They have no doubt in their own opinion as to whether the evidence is sufficient to proceed.
“Once the evidence has been accumulated by the Justice Department, it needs to make a decision as to whether it can prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of the president or anyone else. ,” said Representative Adam Schiff, D-Calif, member of the panel. . “But they need to be investigated if there is credible evidence, which I think is.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., another member, said on CNN that he did not intend to “defeat” Garland but noted that the committee has made criminal statutes legal defenses that it believe Trump has violated.
“I think he knows, his staff knows, the US attorney knows, what’s at stake here,” Raskin said.
No president or former president has ever been indicted. Garland has not said whether he is willing to prosecute.
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