WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack plans to use the testimony of former President Donald J. Trump’s own campaign manager against him on Monday, as it provides evidence that Mr. Trump deliberately spread the lie that the 2020 elections were stolen from him in an attempt to undo his defeat.
The committee plans to call Bill Stepien, the last president of Mr Trump’s campaign, who is expected to be asked to tell in detail what the campaign and the former president himself knew about his fictitious claims of widespread election fraud. Those claims will be the focus of the second in a series of hearings the panel is holding this month to release the findings of the expanded investigation.
After an explosive prime-time prime-time hearing last week, the committee’s leaders are striving to keep up with a steady stream of revelations about the magnitude of Mr Trump’s plot to undo the election and how it is spreading the seeds. of the violent siege of the Capitol by its supporters last year.
On Monday, they plan to detail the origin and spread of Mr Trump’s election lies, including the former president’s refusal to listen to advisers who told him he had lost and that there was no evidence of widespread irregularities affecting the outcome. could change. They then plan to demonstrate the chaos these lies have caused in several states, which eventually led to the riots.
A committee official said the panel would focus in particular on Mr Trump’s election night decision to declare victory, even though he had been told he didn’t have the numbers to win.
A second panel of witnesses includes Byung J. Pak, a former US attorney in Atlanta who abruptly resigned after refusing to say there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia.
According to an internal memo released as part of a lawsuit, the Trump campaign knew as early as November that its outlandish fraud claims were false. Last week, the panel showed videotaped testimonies from its top advisers and even then-Attorney General William P. Barr, who said they told Mr. Trump and top White House officials the same.
Mr. Stepien was in attendance for key talks about what the data showed about Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding in a bid to win swing states, beginning on election night. He was part of a meeting with Mr. Trump on November 7, 2020, just after the television channels called out the election in favor of President Joseph R. Biden Jr., where he told Mr. Trump about the unusually low chances of success with his challenges .
Mr Trump, at the urging of his attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, wanted to press ahead.
mr. Stepien, who rarely speaks publicly, appears under subpoena and raises questions about how willing he will be to testify against Mr. Trump.
Mr. Stepien is currently an advisor to Harriet Hageman, a Republican backed by Mr. Trump, who poses a primary challenge to Representative Liz Cheney, the Republican of Wyoming and the panel’s vice chair, creating a potentially hostile dynamic for his questioning on Monday.
Read more about the January 6 House Committee hearings
The Jan. 6 committee suggested in a letter to Mr. Stepien that it had evidence that he knew the campaign was raising money by making false claims of election fraud.
“As the manager of Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, you oversaw all aspects of the campaign,” the letter reads. “You then oversaw the conversion of Trump’s presidential campaign into an effort focused on ‘Stop the Steal’ messaging and related fundraising. Those posts included the promotion of certain false claims related to voting machines, despite an internal campaign memo in which campaign staff determined that such claims were false.
Mr. Stepien will appear alongside Chris Stirewalt, the former political editor at Fox News who was fired after correctly proclaiming the 2020 Arizona presidential election for Mr. Biden, a move that angered Mr. Trump.
The second part of the hearing will address the resonance of Mr Trump’s false claims across the country, particularly in competing states. Along with Mr. Pak, who resigned after learning that Mr. Trump wanted to fire him for denying claims of rampant voter fraud in Georgia, the panel is expected to hear from Al Schmidt, a Republican former Philadelphia city commissioner who also stood up against Mr Trump’s lies. Benjamin Ginsberg, a Republican election attorney who served as national counsel for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and played a pivotal role in the 2000 Florida recount, will also appear.
Monday’s series of witnesses suggests the commission wants to chart the impact of Trump’s lies in conservative media and across states, contrasting the baseless nature of Mr. Trump’s claims with legitimate legal challenges from Republican campaigns from the United States. past.
A committee official said the panel would provide evidence at the hearing from witnesses who investigated Mr Trump’s fraud allegations and found them to be false.
The panel also plans to show how Mr Trump’s fiction of a stolen election was used as a tool to raise money and raise hundreds of millions of dollars between Election Day 2020 and January 6. A fraudulent fundraiser could be grounds for a possible criminal justice referral against Mr. Trump and his allies.
And some on the committee have long believed that a way to break through to Mr. Trump would be to prove to them that they were tricked into donating their money to a bogus cause.
Assistants said the committee on Monday would also try to show how the rioters who stormed the Capitol had echoed Mr Trump’s words, citing him as their motivation to storm the building in an attempt to stop Congress from defeating it. formalize.
Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and the chairman of the House Administration Committee, will play a key role in presenting evidence at the hearing, aides said.
Time and again, top officials of the Trump administration have told Mr Trump that he had lost the 2020 election. But time and again, Mr. Trump pushed through with his lies about widespread fraud.
Shortly after the election, while the votes were still being counted, the top data expert in Mr Trump’s reelection campaign told him outright that he would lose.
In the weeks that followed, as Mr Trump insisted he had won, a senior Justice Department official repeatedly told him that his claims of widespread vote fraud were unfounded, ultimately warning him that they would “hurt the country.” .
Those concerns were shared by the top White House attorney, who told the president he would enter into a “murder-suicide pact” if he continued to pursue extreme plans to try to invalidate the results of the 2020 election.
Last week, the Jan. 6 panel played video of an interview in which Mr. Barr testified that he knew the president’s claims were false, and he told him so three times.
“I told the president it was nonsense,” Mr. Barr is told to hear the commission’s investigators. “I didn’t want to be a part of it.”
Committee members previewed some of the evidence they plan to present at Monday’s hearing during TV news interviews Sunday.
“Former President Trump was told by multiple people — it should have been obvious — that there was no evidence that the election was stolen, and he ignored that,” said Virginia Democrat and committee member Elaine Luria. on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
Illinois Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger drew a contrast between those close to Mr Trump who told him the truth and the “yes people” who encouraged his fantasy of a stolen election to please him.
“If you really believe the election was stolen, and if the president really believes that, he’s mentally incapable of running for president,” Mr Kinzinger said on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” adding, “I think he didn’t believe it.. I think the people around him didn’t believe it. This was all about holding on to power against the will of the American people.”
Michael S. Schmidt reporting contributed.