For the second time in the last five days, the January 6 committee met publicly to make its case that former President Donald Trump knew he was lying about fraud in the 2020 election – and did it anyway.
I watched the whole hearing and pulled out the 14 lines that mattered most. They’re below. (These are in rough chronological order.)
1. “The Trump campaign legal team knew there was no legitimate argument…to overturn the election, and yet President Trump went forward with his plan for January 6 anyway.” – Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney
Cheney, the vice chair of the committee, laid out here the goal of not just today’s hearing but also of the broader presentation of the committee: Trump knew he had lost, was told he had lost on dozens of occasions and not only refused to accept it but actively pushed conspiracy theories and other false claims that he knew were wrong to stir up his party’s base. Proving that is what sits at the heart of the question as to whether Trump can or should be criminally indicted by the Justice Department.
2. “Mr. Trump decided before the election…that he would claim it was rigged.” – California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren
This is 100% true. I wrote as far back as March 2019 that “Donald Trump is laying the groundwork to de-legitimize the 2020 election,” noting quotes from the President that suggested as much. “When the Republicans had the Majority they never acted with such hatred and scorn,” Trump said at the time. “The Dems are trying to win an election in 2020 that they know they cannot legitimately win!” Reminder: This was almost 18 months before the 2020 election.
3. “The mayor was definitely intoxicated.” – former Trump adviser Jason Miller
So, here’s what we learned about election night 2020 at the White House from today’s hearing: a) Former New York City Mayior Rudy Giuliani showed up at the White House wanting to talk to Trump b) Giuliani was, according to Miller, drunk c) Giuliani did wind up speaking to the President, a conversation in which he said Trump should declare victory – which the President then did. Amazing. Stunning.
4. “I don’t know that I had a firm view of what he should say.” – Ivanka Trump
The eldest daughter of the former President was – and is – quite clearly and very carefully calibrating how her closeness (or lack thereof) to her father following the election is perceived. She, more than any other witness whose testimony to the January 6 committee we have seen, speaks haltingly (and briefly) as she attempts to distance herself from the actions of her father without him picking up on what she is doing.
5. “My recommendation was to say that ‘Votes were still being counted. It’s too early to tell, too early to call the race but we’re proud of the race we ran, and we think we’re in good position.’” – former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien
Stepien, knowing that there were lots and lots of totally legal ballots still to be counted, advised the President not to declare victory on election night. Instead Trump took the advice of the allegedly inebriated Giuiliani
6. “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.” – Attorney General Bill Barr
Barr was the star of the second public hearing, making clear that he not only believed the election fraud claims to be ridiculous but also that he told Trump of that view on any number of face to face conversations. This quote, in particular, is deeply damning as it suggests that Trump was claiming fraud even before any substantial number of votes had been counted.
7. “Very, very, very, very bleak.” – Stepien
This was Stepien’s analysis of the chances of Trump winning as the week after the election wore on. He added that he had told Trump at that point that the campaign had only a 5-10% chance of winning.
8. “I didn’t mind being considered part of Team Normal.” – Stepien
Stepien drew a stark line between “Team Normal” – those within the campaign who, as time wore on, believed clearly that Trump had lost – and those on another team populated by the likes of Giuliani and lawyers like Sidney Powell and John Eastman. Which, well, wow.
9. “Not the approach I would take if I were you.” – Jared Kushner
After much hemming and hawing about whether he had spoken to the President about his views of Giuliani, and the effort to overturn the election results, Kushner eventually acknowledged that he said this to the President. Trump, obviously, ignored him and his advice.
10. “The Department doesn’t take sides in the election, and the department is not an extension of your legal team.” – Barr
The attorney general told Trump this in an in-person meeting on November 23, 2020. Trump, neither in this conversation nor before or after it, seemed to understand the Justice Department had long been viewed as an independent organization within the broader government.
11. “I told him that the stuff his people were shoveling out to the public was bullshit.” – Barr
That quote came from a December 1 meeting between Trump and Barr. It followed an Associated Press story earlier in the day in which Barr said this: “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
12. “There was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.” – Barr
Barr recounted that before the 2020 election he felt as though he could persuade Trump of facts and realities – even if it, at time, took a while and was a bit painful for all involved. After the election, Barr said that all changed – that Trump was simply not interested in any point of view that didn’t back up his baseless election fraud claims. “After the election he didn’t seem to be listening,” Barr told the January 6 committee.
13. “The 2020 election was not close.” – GOP campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg
Ginsberg was intimately involved in the 2000 presidential election, which swung on just more than 500 votes in Florida. He noted during his testimony Monday that there was no state even remotely so close in 2020. (The smallest margin – of just more than 10,000 – was in Arizona.)
14. “The Trump campaign did not make its case.” – Ginsberg
This is a statement of fact that often gets lost in the back and forth over the legal cases brought by Trump after the 2020 election. Here’s the facts: The Trump campaign brought 62 cases to a variety of courts throughout the country. They lost 61 of those cases. And the one they did win had no material effect on voting. (It was to disqualify a relative paucity of mail-in ballots because voters hadn’t confirmed their identification by November 9.)