Jan. 6 committee holds fourth hearing

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 11:34 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022
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2:07 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Jan. 6 committee details Trump team's early focus on pressuring state lawmakers

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Cleta Mitchell, who advised former President Donald Trump’s legal team after the 2020 election, told the Jan. 6 committee that there were discussions about legislators being able to overturn the election results around the time of the 2020 election.

“Right after the election, it might have been before the election,” Mitchell said, according to video of her deposition played during the committee hearing.

In a Nov. 5, 2020, email that Mitchell sent to Trump attorney John Eastman, she asked Eastman: “What would you think of producing a legal memo outlining the constitutional role of state legislators in designating electors?” 

The email was previously disclosed by the committee in court filings.

In a video during the hearing, the committee showed testimony and new materials detailing the extent of the pressure campaign against state legislative leaders that played out in key states that Trump lost, including Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Michigan State Senate Majority leader Mike Shirkey, in video of his deposition, recalled a conversation he had with Trump where he told the former President, “We were going to follow the law.”

Shirkey said he remembered receiving 4,000 text messages in a short period of time from Trump supporters calling for action to change the state’s electors.

“They were believing things that were untrue,” Shirkey said.

The committee played audio of a voicemail from a Trump campaign official telling representatives, “You do have the power to reclaim your authority to send a slate of electors that will support President Trump and Vice President Pence.”

2:13 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers says Giuliani "never" provided evidence of voter fraud claims

From CNN's Clare Foran

Rusty Bowers, a Republican and Arizona state House speaker, testified before the committee that key Trump ally Rudy Giuliani said he had evidence of widespread voter fraud, but "never" provided it.

Bowers, who is a witness at today's hearing, described a phone call he took with former President Donald Trump and Giuliani in which Giuliani claimed to have evidence of fraud.

Bowers said he asked Giuliani "on multiple occasions" for proof of the fraud allegations.

"He said that they did have proof," Bowers said, describing the exchange. "I asked him, 'Do you have names?'" He told committee members Giuliani said that he did and would provide them to him.

But ultimately, according to Bowers, that didn't happen.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff asked Bowers, "Did you ever receive from him that evidence, either during the call, after the call, or to this day?"

Bowers replied simply: "Never."

The Arizona House speaker also told the committee that during another conversation with him, Giuliani said, “we've got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.”

“I don't know if that was a gaffe or maybe he didn't think through what he said, but both myself and others … remembered that specifically, and afterwards, we kind of laughed about it,” he said.


2:03 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

State officials say they received thousands of texts, had protests outside homes during pressure campaign 

Josh Roselman, investigative counsel for the Jan. 6 House select committee, is shown Tuesday on video.
Josh Roselman, investigative counsel for the Jan. 6 House select committee, is shown Tuesday on video. (Pool)

Josh Roselman, investigative counsel for the Jan. 6 House select committee, outlined how people in former President Trump's circle incessantly called state officials in an effort to block the election results prior to the 2021 attack on the Capitol.

In late 2020, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and other Trump associates started to send messages — sometimes daily — to Republican state lawmakers asking them to discuss the election and urging them to give their electoral votes to Trump.

Trump's allies made phone calls, sent texts and left voicemails to push the baseless claim that state legislators could overturn the election outcome.

"He posted multiple messages on Facebook listing the contact information for state officials and urging his supporters to contact them to quote, "demand a vote on the decertification.' In one of those posts, President Trump disclosed [Michigan State Sen.] Mike Shirkey's personal phone number to his millions of followers," Roselman said.

Shirkey said, "All I remember is receiving over, just shy of 4,000 a text messages in a short period of time calling to take action. ... They were believing things that were not true."  

Pennsylvania State Speaker Bryan Cutler said Giuliani repeatedly tried to reach out to him, and longtime Trump political adviser Steve Bannon announced protests at Cutler's office and home.

"All my personal information was doxxed online. It was my personal email, my personal cell phone, my home phone number. In fact, we have to disconnect our home phone for about three days because it would ring all hours of the night. It would fill up with messages," he said.

During the first protest, Cutler said his teen son was home alone.

1:55 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers refutes Trump statement under oath

From CNN's Gabby Orr and Marshall Cohen

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers testifies on Tuesday.
Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers testifies on Tuesday. (Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers said under oath Tuesday that former President Donald Trump lied about him in a press release that came out shortly before the hearing, where Trump claimed that Bowers told him that he believed the 2020 election was rigged.

Rusty Bowers directly refuted portions of a statement released earlier this afternoon by the former president, testifying under oath that he never referred to the 2020 election as rigged to "anyone, anywhere, anytime." 

"I did have a conversation with the President – that certainly isn't it," Bowers told the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection during live testimony on Tuesday.

Trump’s statement said: “In November 2020, Bowers thanked me for getting him elected. He said he would have lost, and in fact expected to lose, if I hadn’t come along. During the conversation, he told me that the election was rigged and that I won Arizona… Bowers should hope there’s not a tape of the conversation.”

Bowers was asked about Trump's statement by Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, and said his counselor had called to read it to him by phone shortly before the hearing began. 

"There are parts of it that are true, there are parts of it that are not true," Bowers told Schiff.

“…Anywhere, anyone anytime who has said that I said the election was rigged – that would not be true,” he continued.

The back-and-forth harkens back to Trump’s infamous conversations with former FBI Director James Comey in 2017, where Trump lied about what they discussed and raised the specter of “tapes.”

Like Bowers, Comey testified to Congress, under penalty of perjury, about the conversations with Trump.

1:34 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Arizona's House speaker, who resisted Trump's pressure campaign, is testifying now

From CNN's Manu Raju

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers is testifying before the committee.
Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers is testifying before the committee. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Rusty Bowers, a Republican and Arizona state House speaker, is testifying now about former President Donald Trump's pressure on state officials to overturn Joe Biden's victory in 2020.

Bowers, who supported Trump's reelection bid in 2020, refused to bow to intimidation and attempts to get him to back efforts in the legislature to decertify Biden's victory in Arizona.

He previously described how Trump and the then-President's lawyer Rudy Giuliani called him after the 2020 election to convince him to somehow involve the legislature in the state's certification process before sending its presidential electors to Congress.

This past year, Bowers also shot down some of his fellow Arizona Republicans' more extreme election ideas, including a resolution of mostly debunked claims of fraud that called for the election results to be set aside in three Arizona counties.

In February, the Republican speaker used a parliamentary maneuver to effectively doom a GOP bill which would have overhauled elections in Arizona, including by giving the state legislature the power to reject election results it didn't like.

1:24 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

The people pressuring Pence were also pressuring state election officials, Cheney says

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, said the same people who were pressuring former Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes were also working to pressure state election officials.

"Donald Trump had a direct and personal role in this effort as did Rudy Giuliani, as did John Eastman," Cheney said in her opening remarks at today's hearing. "In other words, the same people who were attempting to pressure vice president Mike Pence to reject electoral votes illegally were also simultaneously working to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election at the state level."

"Each of these efforts to overturn the election is independently serious," she added.

"Each deserves attention both by Congress and by our Department of Justice," Cheney said.

At its third hearing of the month last week, the committee tried to connect Trump's pressure campaign against Pence to the violence on Jan. 6 by weaving together testimony from Pence aides, Trump's public statements and comments from rioters at the Capitol.  The committee showed Trump was told repeatedly that his plan for Pence to overturn the election was illegal, but he tried to do it anyway.  

Cheney said these pressure campaigns were both done for a broader purpose and "all of this was done in preparation for Jan. 6."

She reiterated the committee's point that Trump had been told that there was no basis for his election fraud claims.

Cheney played a clip of former attorney general William Barr in a recorded deposition saying the claims had "no merit."

"We took a look, hard look at this ourselves, and based on our review of it, including the interviews of the key witnesses, the Fulton county allegations were... had no merit. The ballots under the table were legitimate ballots. They weren't in a suitcase," Barr said in the video.

Some context: At a previous committee hearing, BJay Pak, the former US attorney for the North District of Georgia, testified that his office found that the alleged "suitcase full of ballots" in Georgia was an official lockbox.

1:25 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Thompson: Just a few election officials stood between Trump and "the upending of democracy"

US Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chairman, gives opening remarks during Tuesday's hearing.
US Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chairman, gives opening remarks during Tuesday's hearing. (Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, said that pressuring election officials was a "fundamental part" of former President Trump's strategy to block the 2020 election results.

"Pressuring public servants into betraying their oath was a fundamental part of the playbook," Thompson said.  

"A handful of election officials in several key states stood between Donald Trump and the upending of democracy," he added.

While Trump focused on a few states to overturn the election results, officials would not go along with his allegations of fraud, Thompson said.

"When they wouldn't embrace 'the big lie' and substitute the will of the voters, with Donald Trump's will to remain in power, Donald Trump worked to ensure they faced the consequences," he said, referring to the threats that election officials received in the wake of the 2020 election.

"As we have shown in our previous hearings, claims that widespread voter fraud tainted the 2020 presidential election have always been a lie. Donald Trump knew they were a lie, and he kept amplifying them anyway," Thompson said.

Thompson added that "the lie hasn't gone away, saying that "people who believe that lie are now seeking positions of public trust."

2:06 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Jan. 6 committee chair: "We won't have close calls, we'll have a catastrophe" with election deniers in office

US Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chairman, gives opening remarks during Tuesday's hearing.
US Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chairman, gives opening remarks during Tuesday's hearing. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Jan. 6 Committee Chair Bennie Thompson warned that former President Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 presidential election continue to corrupt America's democratic institutions.

"People who believe that lie are now seeking positions of public trust. And as seen in New Mexico, their oath to the people they serve will take a backseat to their commitment to the big lie. If that happens, who will make sure our institutions don't break under the pressure?" he said at the beginning of the hearing.

"We won't have close calls. We'll have a catastrophe," he warned


1:47 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Cheney: Trump "did not care about the threats of violence... he went forward with his fake allegations anyway"

From CNN's Clare Foran

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee vice chair, said at the opening of today's hearing that former President Donald Trump was aware of the potential for violence ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but that did not deter him from continuing to spread lies about the election results.

"Donald Trump did not care about the threats of violence. He did not condemn them, he made no effort to stop them. He went forward with his fake allegations anyway," Cheney said.

Cheney previewed how the committee will show how Trump was given warnings over threats and potential violence.

"You will hear about a number of threats and efforts to pressure state officials to reverse the election outcome. One of our witnesses today — Gabriel Sterling — explicitly warned President Trump about potential violence on December 1, 2020, more than a month before January 6. You will see excerpts from that video repeatedly today," she said.

Sterling, chief operating officer for the Georgia Secretary of State, is one of the witnesses for today's hearing.

Cheney also asked those watching to “focus on the evidence,” adding, “we cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.”