The commission’s last public hearing on Jan. 6 showed how much Donald Trump was willing to believe “delusions” about the results of the 2020 election, experts say.
Monday heard live and recorded testimonies from those close to the former president around November 2020, revealing how they told him there was no evidence of voter fraud and that he should not falsely declare himself the winner until the votes were counted.
However, Trump refused to listen to what his former campaign manager Bill Stepien described as “Team Normal” — the group that told him not to declare themselves the winner on election night — instead siding with “Team Crazy,” which consisted of from an “apparently intoxicated” Rudy Giuliani, who insisted that Trump go ahead with his false claims.
Elsewhere, former Attorney General William Barr said in recorded testimony that Trump “didn’t seem to be listening” to anyone trying to tell him that his claims of widespread voter fraud after the election were false.
Barr also described some of the election conspiracy theories pushed by Trump as “b*****t”. Barr said he was most concerned about the “disturbing” claims that the Dominion Voting Systems machines had been manipulated to swap votes from Trump to Biden, as there was “zero basis” for the allegations.
“I thought, boy, if he really believes this, he’s, you know, lost touch with, disconnected from reality,” Barr said.
Thomas Gift, founding director of the Center on US Politics at University College London, said the main conclusion of Monday’s hearing was to show “how out of line Trump” with members of his inner circle in his continued spread of allegations of electoral fraud.
Without a doubt, the key witness was former Attorney General Bill Barr — a trusted pro-Trump ally during his time as Justice Department chief — who bluntly referred to Trump’s allegations of vote fraud as ‘phony’, ‘nonsense’ and ‘ detached from reality,'” Gift . told News week.
“Today’s testimony left no doubt as to the magnitude of Trump’s delusions about the election results.”
Barbara McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan and former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, added that Stepien and Barr’s testimony “went much further” than previously reported and helped show how much Trump ignored people who informed him there. was not widespread voter fraud.
“It is now clear that Trump’s advisers told him he had lost and that he should stop saying the election was stolen. When he persisted in his claim that the election was stolen, he knew it was a lie.” said McQuade. News week.
However, as Gift pointed out, many of the key talking points from Monday’s hearings were already known.
Trump openly and publicly spread false claims of voter fraud even as the polls opened in the 2020 election, and has continued to do so 18 months later, despite there being no evidence to back up his claims.
Barr resigned as attorney general in December 2020 over Trump’s false insistence that the election was rigged, and he called voter fraud allegations “b******t” in his recently released memoir.
Gift suggested Monday’s session sometimes “started to sound like a broken record” and that the panel will need to find new angles and evidence to “keep the country’s attention amid a story so well documented”.
One tactic the panel revealed Monday was to get Trump supporters to his side by describing how the former president’s team took hundreds of millions of dollars from them under false pretenses.
In her opening statement, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and panelist, explains how supporters gave money to Trump’s team on the assumption that the money would be used to cover legal costs in the fight against false election fraud claims in the courts.
“But the Trump campaign didn’t use the money for that. The Big Lie was also a big scam,” Lofgren said.
On Monday, Trump released a 12-page statement criticizing the Jan. 6 hearings as a “kangaroo court” while still pushing his false claims about voter fraud.