Committee also expected to probe Trump’s pressure on officials in crucial states to corruptly reverse his election defeat
The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack is expected to show at its fourth hearing on Tuesday that Donald Trump and top advisers coordinated the scheme to send fake slates of electors as part of an effort to return him to the White House.
The panel is expected to also examine Trump’s campaign to pressure top officials in seven crucial battleground states to corruptly reverse his defeat to Joe Biden in the weeks and months after the 2020 election.
At the afternoon hearing, the select committee is expected to focus heavily on the fake electors scheme, which has played a large part in its nearly year-long investigation into Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the election at the state level.
The panel will show how the fake electors scheme – which may have been illegal – was the underlying basis for Trump’s unlawful strategy to have his vice-president, Mike Pence, refuse to certify Biden’s win in certain states and grant him a second term.
If the 2020 election cycle had been like any other, when the electoral college convened on 14 December 2020 and Democratic electors attested to Biden’s victory over Trump, that would have marked the end of any post-election period conflict.
But that year, after the authorized Democratic electors met at statehouses to formally name Biden as president, in seven battleground states, illegitimate Republican electors arrived too, saying they had come to instead name Trump as president.
The Trump electors were turned away. However, they nonetheless proceeded to sign fake election certificates that declared they were the “duly elected and qualified” electors certifying Trump as the winner of the presidential election in their state.
The fake electors scheme was conceived in an effort to create “dueling” slates of electors that Pence could use to pretend the election was in doubt and refuse to formalize Biden’s win at the congressional certification on 6 January.
And, the select committee will show, the fake election certificates were in part manufactured by the Trump White House, and that the entire fake electors scheme was coordinated by Trump and his top advisers, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows.
“We will show evidence of the president’s involvement in this scheme,” congressman Adam Schiff, the select committee member leading the hearing alongside the panel’s chairman, Bennie Thompson, and vice-chair, Liz Cheney, said on CNN on Sunday.
Members of Trump’s legal team insist this is a distorted characterization of the scheme, saying the so-called alternate slates were put together and signed in case the states did re-certify their election results for Trump and they needed to be sent right away to Congress.
But that explanation is difficult to reconcile given that the Trump lawyer John Eastman admitted in a 19 December 2020 the Trump slates were “dead on arrival” if they were not certified, and yet still pushed Pence to reject Biden’s slates even though Trump slates were still not certified.
The fake electors scheme is important because it could be a crime. The justice department is investigating whether the Republicans who signed as electors for Trump could be charged with falsifying voting documents, mail fraud or conspiracy to defraud the United States.
If Trump was involved in the scheme, and the justice department pursues a case, then the former US president may also have criminal exposure. At least one federal grand jury in Washington is investigating the scheme and the involvement of top Trump election lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani.
The select committee is also set to closely focus on Trump’s pressure campaign on leading Republican state officials in the weeks and months after the election, according to a committee aide who previewed the hearing on a briefing call with reporters.
Among other key flash points that the panel intends to examine include Trump’s now-infamous 2 January 2021 call with Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger – who will testify live at the hearing – when Trump asked him to “find” votes to make him win the election.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said during the conversation, a tape of which was obtained by the Washington Post and House investigators working for the select committee.
The select committee will describe Trump pressuring other state officials to investigate election fraud claims his own White House and campaign lawyers knew were false, relying on testimony from the Arizona house speaker, Rusty Bowers.
And the panel will additionally hear testimony from Shaye Moss, a Georgia election worker in Fulton County, who was falsely accused by Giuliani and others of sneaking in “suitcases” of ballots for Biden – a conspiracy theory debunked by election officials.