Jan. 6 panel depicts human toll of Trump’s election pressure

WASHINGTON — The Jan. 6 committee relied on moving testimony on Tuesday to illustrate the human toll that Donald Trump’s elaborate plan to void the 2020 election has taken on public officials and their families.

While the January 6 hearings focused on Trump’s aggressive efforts to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, the committee’s fourth public hearing focused on other consequences of this pressure campaign: threats violence against those who opposed Trump’s election lies and the disruption of the lives of even the most junior election officials.

“The president’s lie was — and is — a dangerous cancer of the body politic,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, a Jan. 6 committee member who played a leading role in the hearing. tuesday. “This pressure campaign has resulted in angry phone calls and text messages, armed protests, intimidation and, all too often, threats of violence and death.”

In live testimony, the committee sparked not only stories about Trump’s efforts to nullify the election, but also the personal experiences that unfolded simultaneously — an election worker forced from her home for two months, a state official with a dying daughter and another who became enraged. after seeing the threats against a young man.


Wandrea “Shay” Moss, an election worker from Georgia, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, have become targets of conspiracy theorists, fueling a barrage of racist attacks against them both. Freeman testified earlier that around Jan. 6, the FBI told her he was unsure about staying at her house after Trump called her name; she didn’t come back for two months. Moss said Tuesday that she now rarely leaves the house, has gained weight and continues to fear for her safety.

“It turned my life upside down,” Moss said. “It affected my life in a major way, in every way, all because of lies [about] me doing my job.

Rusty Bowers, a Republican and Speaker of the Arizona House, testified about efforts by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani to get the state legislature to choose a new rival voters list that would favor Trump, even though the governor of the GOP Doug Ducey had already certified Biden’s election victory in the state.

Bowers told the committee he knew Trump’s request was unconstitutional — and repeatedly refused.

“It is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired, that it is my most basic core belief,” said Bowers, who is a Mormon. “And so for me to do this because someone just asked me to is alien to my very being; I’m not going to do it.”

Bowers, a longtime Conservative lawmaker, choked up as he told the committee the impact these events had on him and his family. Trump supporters, he said, regularly showed up at his home on Saturdays, terrorizing his family. They drove trucks through his neighborhood with video signs falsely proclaiming him “a pedophile, a pervert and a corrupt politician”, he said. In one case, a man with a gun started arguing with him and one of his neighbors about the election.

It all happened while her daughter was critically ill, Bowers said with tears in her eyes. She died on January 28, 2021, several weeks after the attack on the Capitol.

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“So it was troubling,” he testified. “It’s annoying.”

To illustrate some of the other violent threats, the committee released videos of pro-Trump protesters chanting “Stop the theft!” and “You are a bully and a criminal” outside the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who previously told the panel she thought they were going to attack her and her children, “with firearms”.

In another video from the committee, a script was shown that was used by Trump campaign staff to call state lawmakers and ask them to help overturn the election. The video also included voicemails trying to pressure state officials left behind by Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Trump aide.

Building on the theme of last week’s hearing featuring Trump’s aggressive efforts to force former Vice President Mike Pence, the Jan. 6 panel on Tuesday shed light on the campaign to put pressure on state officials. Specifically, the nine-member panel said Trump pushed state officials to manipulate Georgia’s vote count and send Congress lists of “fake” pro-Trump voters from key swing states: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

In recorded testimony, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told the committee that Trump himself called her and passed the phone to John Eastman, the architect of the plot to nullify the election, in the purpose of coordinating the lists of “contingent voters”.

“Donald Trump played a direct and personal role in this effort, as did Rudy Giuliani, as did John Eastman,” said Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the top Republican on the Jan. 6 panel. “In other words, the same people who were trying to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to illegally reject electoral votes were also simultaneously working to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election at the state level.

Two top Georgia election officials — Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger and top aide Gabriel Sterling — testified in person to a now-infamous phone call four days before the attack in which Trump explicitly told them to “find 11,780 votes” which would put him ahead of Biden in the state.

“There were no votes to be found,” Raffensberger testified. “It was an accurate count that had been certified.”

Image: January 6 hearing
From left are Arizona State House Speaker Rusty Bowers, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling. arrive Tuesday to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee.Mandel Ngan / AFP-Getty Images

But they also discussed threats against election workers fueled by Trump and his allies floating a debunked conspiracy that Fulton County officials added a suitcase of thousands of illegal ballots to their tally.

Sterling testified to what led him to go on a televised tirade on Nov. 30, 2020, when he issued a stern warning that Trump’s campaign lies would get someone killed. He had received a call from an official at Dominion Voting Systems, whom he described as “audibly shaken” and who told him that a young entrepreneur had received threats from QAnon supporters.

Later, Sterling took to Twitter and discovered a tweet with the young man’s name and a GIF of a noose.

“For lack of a better word, I just lost it,” Sterling said. “I lost my temper but it felt necessary at the time because it was only getting worse.”

The pair are cooperating with a special Fulton County grand jury investigation into whether Trump violated election law by pressuring Georgia officials.

Trump released a statement ahead of Bowers’ testimony, insisting the Bowers told Trump he had won Arizona.

“Bowers should hope there is no recording of the conversation,” Trump said in the statement. He did not provide a recording.

On Thursday, the Jan. 6 committee is set to hold its fifth public hearing, focusing on how Trump pressured senior Justice Department officials to investigate false allegations of widespread voter fraud.

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