Jan. 6 hearing shows Barr saying Trump ‘detached from reality’ in pushing ‘big lie’
Written by Libby Cathey and Alexandra Hutzler ABC News on June 13, 2022
(WASHINGTON) — The House select committee holds another public hearing Monday — this time focused on the “big lie” pushed by former President Donald Trump and his allies — that the committee says fueled those who attacked the Capitol.
The main witness scheduled was Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, but the committee said Monday morning the hearing would be postponed due to a family emergency.
This is how the hearing is unfolding. All times Eastern:
Jun 13, 12:58 pm
Hearing gavels out
After about two hours, Chairman Bennie Thompson gaveled out the House select committee’s second hearing this month meant to unveil their findings from an 11-month long investigation that found Trump at the center of a “multistep conspiracy aimed at overturning the presidential election.”
Monday’s hearing used video testimony from Trump’s inner circle to focus on how he and his campaign pushed the “big lie” to millions of supporters after the election, and even fundraised millions off the claim, despite knowing he lost.
In one explosive clip, Trump Attorney General Bill Barr described his thinking on Trump in the weeks after the election, saying, “Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with – he’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.’”
Jun 13, 12:56 pm
Cheney previews hearings to come
Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in her closing statement, previewed what Americans can expect to learn in the hearings to come, saying Monday’s hearing was “very narrowly focused,” but in the coming days, the committee will move on to Trump’s “broader planning for January 6.”
“Let me leave you today with one clip to preview what you will see in one of our hearings to come,” Cheney said. “This is the testimony of White House lawyer Eric Herschmann. John Eastman called Mr. Herschmann the day after January 6, and here is how that conversation went.”
“I said to him, are you out of your [expletive] mind? Right?” Herschmann recalled. “I said I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: ‘Orderly transition.'”
Jun 13, 12:52 pm
Philadelphia election official details threats against him, family after Trump tweet
Al Schmidt, a former Republican city commissioner in Philadelphia, recounted to the committee receiving threats for pushing back on Trump’s false election claims in Pennsylvania.
Trump called out Schmidt by name in a Twitter post on Nov. 11, 2020, stating Schmidt was a “Republican in name only” who refused to “look at a mountain of corruption and dishonesty.”
Schmidt said he received general threats before Trump’s tweet, but after the post the threats became “much more graphic” and were targeted not only at him but also members of his family.
The committee showed messages Schmidt and his family received, including one that read: “Heads on spikes. Treasonous Schmidts.”
Jun 13, 12:41 pm
Election officials in key states debunk Trump’s fraud claims
After the second panel of witnesses was sworn in, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., started questioning Byung “Bjay” Pak, who served as U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia during the Trump administration and was appointed by Trump.
Pak said Attorney General Bill Barr “asked me to find out what I could” about claims of voter fraud in Georgia raised by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani in a public hearing, but said both he and his successor were “unable to find any evidence of fraud which affected the outcome of the election.”
Lofgren then questioned Al Schmidt, the former GOP city commissioner who supervised the 2020 election in Philadelphia, about investigating claims about thousands of dead people voting in Philadelphia.
“Not only was there no evidence of 8,000 dead voters voting in Pennsylvania — there was not even evidence of eight,” Schmidt said.
Jun 13, 12:27 pm
Hearing gavels in for second panel of GOP witnesses
Chairman Bennie Thompson gaveled the hearing back in shortly after 12:15 p.m. for the second panel of witnesses.
The three witnesses are Al Schmidt, a former Republican city commissioner in Philadelphia who repeatedly debunked claims of fraud in the state, Ben Ginsberg, a veteran GOP election lawyer, and Byung “BJay” Pak, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and Trump appointee.
Jun 13, 12:25 pm
New witness confirmed for Wednesday’s hearing
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., confirmed publicly that Rich Donoghue, a former acting Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department, will testify in person before the committee. ABC News has previously reported he was in talks to testify.
Donoghue will appear in Wednesday’s hearing that will focus on Trump’s “pressure” campaign against the Justice Department to investigate fraud, as vice-chair Rep. Liz Cheney announced in last week’s hearing.
Chairman Bennie Thompson called a 10-minute recess for the committee’s Monday hearing shortly after noon.
Jun 13, 12:07 pm
Barr recalls being concerned Trump had become ‘detached from reality’
The committee played a video of Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr recalling his December meeting with Trump after he told a media outlet that there was no evidence of election fraud.
“The president was as mad as I’ve ever seen him, and he was trying to control himself,” Barr recalled. Trump said, “‘You didn’t have to say this, you must’ve said this because you hate Trump.'”
“I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality,” Barr said, adding, “There was never any indication in interest in what the actual facts were.”
“I felt that before the election, it was possible to talk sense to the president. And while you sometimes had to engage in, you know, a big wrestling match with him, that it was possible to keep things on track. But I was — felt that after the election he didn’t seem to be listening,” Barr recalled. “And I didn’t think it was—you know, that I was inclined not to stay around if he wasn’t listening to advice from me or the Cabinet secretaries.”
Jun 13, 12:05 pm
Barr recounts telling Trump election fraud claims ‘not panning out’
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D- Calif., teed up several clips of then-Attorney General Bill Barr describing his meeting with Trump in late November about election fraud, noting how “even after [Barr] told him his claims of election fraud were false, President Trump continued to promote these false claims.”
“I said,” Barr recalled, “the department doesn’t take sides in elections, and the department is not an extension of your legal team. And our role is to investigate fraud, and we’ll look at something if it’s specific, credible, and could’ve affected the outcome of the election. And we’re doing that, and it’s just not — they’re just not meritorious. They’re not panning out.”
After that meeting, Barr said Meadows told him Trump “was becoming more realistic,” and Kushner said “we’re working on this.”
Jun 13, 11:56 am
‘Team Normal’ vs. Rudy Giuliani
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D- Calif., said Trump became “frustrated” when briefed on his slim chances to win the election and began to shake up his campaign’s legal team.
Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien said Trump’s unhappiness “paved the way” for Rudy Giuliani to become more influential in the post-election strategy to spread false claims of widespread fraud.
“There were two groups,” Stepien said. “We called them my team and Rudy’s team. I didn’t mind being categorized as ‘Team Normal’ as reporters started to do at that point in time.”
Trump’s White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told the committee he thought the arguments being made by Giuliani, Sidney Powell and others were “nuts.”
Jun 13, 11:43 am
Former Fox News political editor explains ‘red mirage’
Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor who was fired after defending his decision to call Arizona for Joe Biden, explained the “red mirage” phenomenon to the committee: how a GOP lead on same-day voting was expected to shrink as Democrat-leaning absentee and mail-in votes were counted.
“Basically, in every election, Republicans win Election Day, and Democrats win the early vote,” he explained. “So, every election, certainly in a national election, you expect to see the Republican with a lead, but it is not really a lead.”
Stepien, in videotaped testimony, recalled briefing the president on the “red mirage” phenomenon, adding, “I always told the president of the truth.”
“I told him it was going to be a process,” he said. “We will have to wait and see how this turns out. Just like I did in 2016, I did the same thing in 2020.”
Stepien also recalled a meeting with Trump and attended by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy in the summer of 2020, where they tried to persuade Trump to encourage supporters to vote by mail, but, “The president’s mind was made up,” Stepien said.
Jun 13, 11:31 am
Ivanka Trump, key witnesses describe election night atmosphere
Chairman Bennie Thompson played a video compilation of witnesses describing the scene at the White House on election night after Fox News called Arizona for Joe Biden, using testimony from Trump’s daughter Ivanka, campaign manager Bill Stepien, and attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Ivanka Trump told the committee in her videotaped deposition she didn’t have a “firm view” of what Trump should have said the night of the election.
Stepien told the committee he recalled Rudy Guiliani “was looking to talk to the president” and said that Trump “disagreed” with the assessment that he should not declare victory right then.
Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman, told investigators that “the mayor was definitely intoxicated” and recalled that he was pushing for Trump to declare victory.
“Effectively, Mayor Giuliani was saying we won it,” Miller said, “and essentially that anyone who didn’t agree to that was being weak.”
Vice chair Liz Cheney, hitting on that point, added, “President Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night, and instead followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani.”
Jun 13, 11:28 am
Trump advisers warned him not to declare victory on election night
“It was far too early to be making any calls like that,” Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien told the committee in his video deposition. “Ballots were still being counted, ballots were still going to be counted for days.”
Ivanka Trump also told the committee that it was becoming clear the race would not be called that night.
“To the best of my memory, I was saying that we should not go with declare victory until we had a better sense of the numbers,” former top Trump aide Jason Miller said in his videotaped interview.
Stepien and Miller said it was former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani who pressured Trump to claim victory. Miller alleged that Giuliani was “definitely intoxicated” at the time.
The committee then aired a snippet of Trump’s speech on election night, in which he told the crowd: “We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this.”
Jun 13, 11:21 am
‘Big lie was also a big ripoff:’ Lawmaker previews fundraising efforts
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said the committee will demonstrate that Trump and his closest advisers knew his claims of election fraud were false, but continued to peddle them anyway, and even fundraised off those claims which “rioters later used to justify attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6.”
“We will also show that the Trump campaign used these false claims of election fraud to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from supporters who were told the donations were for the legal fight in the courts. But the Trump campaign didn’t use the money for that,” she said.
“‘The big lie’ was also a big ripoff,” Lofgren added, going on to use video of Trump to argue that he “laid the groundwork for these false claims well in advance of the election.”
Jun 13, 11:11 am
Cheney lays out ‘three points’ to establish Trump aware he lost
Using video testimony, vice chair Liz Cheney said the committee will show how Trump and his campaign knew the election was lost but continued to espouse the “big lie,” laying out three points to focus on.
“First, you will hear firsthand testimony that the president’s campaign advisers urged him to await the counting of votes and not to declare victory on election night. The president understood, even before the election, that many more Biden voters had voted by mail because President Trump ignored the advice of his campaign experts and told his supporters only to vote in person,” she said, attempting to illustrate Trump was aware.
“Second, pay attention to what Donald Trump and his legal team said repeatedly about Dominion voting machines,” Cheney said, calling them “Far-flung conspiracies with deceased Venezuelan communists allegedly pulling the strings,” which even Trump Attorney General Bill Barr and White House lawyer Eric Herschmann didn’t believe.
“And third, as Mike Pence’s staff started to get a sense for what Donald Trump had planned for January 6, they called the campaign experts to give them a briefing on election fraud and all the other election claims,” she said. “On January 2nd, the general counsel of the Trump campaign, Matthew Morgan — this is a campaign’s chief lawyer — summarized what the campaign had concluded weeks earlier, that none of the arguments about fraud or anything else could actually change the outcome of the election.”
Jun 13, 11:04 am
Trump White House lawyer debunks conspiracy about Dominion voting machines
Committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., shared deposition testimony from former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann on the former president’s claims that Dominion voting machines were compromised.
“I never saw any evidence whatsoever to sustain those allegations,” Herschmann told the committee.
Cheney claimed that Herschmann’s view was shared by many in the Trump team that the committee interviewed.
Dominion has filed several defamation lawsuits against those who spread baseless claims that their voting machines “stole” votes.
Jun 13, 10:57 am
Chairman outlines how Trump ‘knew he lost’
Chairman Bennie Thompson said Monday’s hearing would use evidence to show how Trump lost the election but “ignored the will of the voters” and “lied to his supporters” in an effort to remain in office.
“This morning, we will tell the story of how Donald Trump lost an election and knew he lost an election, and as a result of his loss, decided to wage an attack on our democracy — an attack on the American people by trying to rob you of your voice in our democracy,” Thompson said.
“And in doing so lit the fuse that lead to horrific violence of January 6, when a mob of his supporters storm the capital sent by Donald Trump to stop the transfer of power,” Thompson added. “Today, my colleague from California, Ms. Lofgren, and our witnesses will detail the select committee’s findings on these matters.”
Jun 13, 10:48 am
Hearing underway after short delay
After a 45-minute delay, the House select committee has kicked off its second public hearing this month.
The committee today will focus on Trump’s push of the “big lie” despite knowing he lost the election to Joe Biden. Last week, committee members began laying out their case against the former president, placing him in the center of what it described as an “attempted coup.”
Jun 13, 10:46 am
Stepien’s attorney gives glimpse into deposition testimony
Bill Stepien’s attorney Kevin Marino confirmed to reporters that Stepien planned to appear before the committee this morning but then learned his wife went into labor. Marino said it’s his understanding that video testimony of Stepien from a previously taped deposition will be aired during the hearing.
Marino called Stepien “one of the finest political consultants in the country.”
“You’re going to hear that he followed the numbers, followed the data, and advised the president as to what he saw,” Marino said.
Jun 13, 10:27 am
Former Fox News editor explains decision to testify in blog post
Former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, who was fired after defending the network’s early projection that Trump had lost Arizona on election night, has written a blog post for The Dispatch, a right-leaning politics website, explaining why he agreed to testify before the Jan. 6 committee.
“I’m still not entirely sure what I will say or what may happen, and don’t want to close any doors or create any expectations. I had a pretty good perch for the 2020 election and was part of the best decision desk in the news business on election night,” he said. “I’m still so proud of the work we did — we beat the competition and stuck the landing. All I can do is tell the truth about my work and hope for the best.”
Jun 13, 10:22 am
Wife of key witness went into labor Monday morning
Former Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien told the House select committee that his wife went into labor this morning, according to two sources briefed on the matter, explaining the family emergency that caused him to cancel his live appearance before the committee.
Stepien previously sat for a taped deposition before the committee, and vice chair Liz Cheney told reporters to expect video excerpts of that deposition played Monday.
Jun 13, 10:20 am
Cheney promises ‘important and effective’ hearings despite losing key witness
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the committee, told reporters to prepare for a substantial hearing despite Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien having to drop out from testifying live at the last minute due to a family emergency.
“We’re going to have a very important and effective set of hearings. As you know, Mr. Stepien has appeared previously, and so we’ll be able to provide the American people with a lot of interesting new and important information that Mr. Stephens provided to us previously,” Cheney said.
She also confirmed the committee will show video of Stepien’s interview.
Jun 13, 9:48 am
Hearing to focus on Trump pushing ‘big lie’
In previewing Monday’s hearing, which will be guided in part by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., House select committee aides said members would focus on how Trump and his campaign pushed the ‘big lie’ to millions of supporters after the election, despite knowing he lost.
The questioning of live witnesses, along with clips of interviews the committee videotaped with other key witnesses, will show how Trump was told he had lost the election and lacked evidence of widespread voter fraud but continued to claim the election was stolen from him, aides told reporters on Sunday night.
The committee hearing will show “how litigation to challenge elections usually works,” and argue that Trump had an “obligation” to “abide by the rule of law” when his dozens of lawsuits failed in courts across the country, they said.
Jun 13, 9:40 am
Live witnesses slated for Monday
Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien will no longer testify live on Monday, citing a family emergency, but the committee will still hear from several live witnesses.
Chris Stirewalt, the former Fox News political editor who was fired after defending the network’s early projection that Trump had lost Arizona on election night, is scheduled to testify this morning.
A second panel of witnesses includes Al Schmidt, a former Republican city commissioner in Philadelphia who repeatedly debunked claims of fraud in the state; veteran GOP election lawyer Ben Ginsburg, and Byung “BJay” Pak, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
Pak previously told Senate investigators he resigned in January 2021 after learning Trump sought to fire him over not doing more to amplify his false claims of widespread election fraud in Georgia.
Jun 13, 9:21 am
The House select committee has delayed its 10 a.m. start time Monday, citing a family emergency for witness Bill Stepien, former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, who will no longer testify.
“Due to a family emergency, Mr. William Stepien is unable to testify before the Select Committee this morning. His counsel will appear and make a statement on the record,” the committee said in a statement. “The hearing will convene approximately 30 to 45 minutes after the previously announced 10:00am start time.”
Stepien had been subpoenaed to testify on Monday.
The committee said his counsel will appear and make a statement on the record.
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