Bullshit, complete nonsense, idiotic: William Barr leaves no shadow of a doubt about what he thought of Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the 2020 US presidential election was being “stolen”.
The recorded interview with Trump’s former Attorney General, from which further excerpts will be shown on Monday, supports the thesis of the investigative committee on January 6, 2021: that Trump was already aware on election night that he had lost, but decided to deny it and thus laid the groundwork for the storming of the Capitol.
Democratic MP Zoe Lofgren, in her opening speech on day two of the public hearings, says the committee will show the 2020 election wasn’t stolen, adding that it was all “a big rip-off too”.
“The American people elected President Joe Biden. We will present evidence that Trump’s allegations of voter fraud were false, that he and his closest aides knew the allegations were false,” but he continued to circulate them anyway, until the moment a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol attack.
Not only Barr says that he tried to convey the news of the defeat to Trump, even though he didn’t want to hear it. One former advisor to Trump after another also confirmed: The ex-president ignored the advice of his lawyers and instead followed Rudy Giuliani, who asked him to declare his election victory that evening. In his own words, he did this to prevent “fraud against the American people”.
Bill Stepien, for example, Trump’s former campaign advisor, also explains in a recorded video that he advised Trump on election night to simply say that it was still too early because the count was still being counted. He didn’t get through with it.
Benjamin Ginsberg, an election attorney for the Republican Party for decades, says “The election was not close” and refutes Trump’s claims that appeals were ignored. Half of the lawsuits against the outcome of the election were immediately dismissed for lack of evidence. And there were reviews of the results in all six “battleground states” that could have been decisive for the election. There was no evidence of voter fraud.
Trump didn’t want to hear that, says Stepien, and increasingly became annoyed with his lawyers’ “Team Normal” (which includes Stepien) and listened to “Team Nuts” (the lawyers surrounding Giuliani). Barr puts it this way: Before the election, you could still have a reasonable talk with the president, but afterwards that was less and less the case. It “demoralized” him because he thought, “Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he’s lost touch with reality.”
Such statements are extremely important for the committee set up by the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, which wants to prove Trump’s responsibility. They are intended to show that Trump, who did not want to give up his “big lie” claim in the weeks that followed, radicalized his supporters, which ultimately led to the violence on January 6th.
Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair and one of only two Republicans on the panel, said at the start of the Cannon House Office Building session that hundreds would now be charged, some facing serious penalties, “for believing what Donald Trump said about the election.” – and then acted accordingly. They came to DC, marched to the Capitol and stormed it “because he asked for it.”
Little by little, the nine committee members tasked with investigating the background of January 6 put their case together. In this, as was already clear at the opening meeting on Thursday evening, Donald Trump is at the center. The Democrats hope that the Justice Department could open criminal proceedings against him for conspiracy after all – based on the findings of the committee, which it has been compiling for months and is now presenting.
It is unclear whether Attorney General Merrick B. Garland will actually do this and thereby prevent Trump from running again. There is a lot at stake, the congressional elections are taking place in November – an indictment in the election campaign against the possible candidate of the other party is politically more than delicate. When asked by CNN on Monday, Garland said at least that he was taking a close look at the hearing. And everyone else too. The next is on Wednesday.