Committee reveals new details how congressional Republicans helped Trump’s efforts to overturn election
Tuesday’s hearing featured new details about two congressional Republicans played a role in Trump’s sprawling efforts to try to overturn his 2020 election loss.
The first was Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, who called Bowers on the morning of January 6, 2021, asking him to support decertification of his state’s electors for Biden.
“I said I would not,” Bowers testified on Tuesday.
The second occurred several hours later, minutes before then-Vice President Mike Pence gaveled in the joint session of Congress to certify the electoral votes. According to text messages obtained by the committee, an aide to GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin asked an aide to Pence how Johnson could hand-deliver him the fake slates of Trump electors from Michigan and Wisconsin, which had not been sent to the National Archives. Pence’s aide responded that Johnson should “not give that to him.”
Both the effort to decertify Biden electors and put forward fake Trump electors were part of the Trump team’s scheme to stop the congressional certification of the election on January 6. The role that Trump’s allies in Congress played have been of interest of interest to the committee, which has subpoenaed five House GOP members, including Biggs and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The House Republicans have not complied with the subpoenas and have denounced the panel’s investigation.
The committee’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, told CNN’s Manu Raju during a recess in Tuesday’s hearing that the committee has “not yet” reached out to Johnson amid the revelations of his involvement in the fake elector scheme.
“The committee hasn’t made a decision” on whether to call him to testify, Thompson said.
Republican officials take the lead testifying against Trump
Yet again, the Democratic-run January 6 committee turned to Republican officials to make their case against Trump. In fact, the majority of the in-person witnesses so far have been Republicans.
Tuesday’s hearing featured in-person testimony from three conservative Republicans who endorsed Trump in 2020. The committee also played deposition clips from two other GOP officials: Michigan State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler.
They all provided damning testimony against Trump, describing how he repeatedly tried to twist their arms and cajole them to overturn the results. They also described the threats and pressure they faced from Trump supporters who believed his election lies and protested outside their homes and offices, and bombarded them with calls and text messages.
Top Arizona Republican refutes Trump in real-time
Bowers said under oath Tuesday that Trump lied about him in a press release that came out shortly before the hearing started, where Trump claimed Bowers told him in November 2020 that he believed the election was rigged.
In the statement, Trump attacked Bowers and described a call they had after the election, claiming, “during the conversation, he told me that the election was rigged and that I won Arizona.” Trump added, “Bowers should hope there’s not a tape of the conversation.”
Under questioning from Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, Bowers confirmed that he “did have a conversation with the president, but that certainly isn’t it.”
“There are parts of it that are true, but there are parts of it that are not,” Bowers said of Trump’s statement. “…Anywhere, anyone anytime who has said that I said the election was rigged — that would not be true.”
The comments were a real-time refutation of the former President. While Trump can say whatever he wants in a press release, Bowers is required to testify truthfully before Congress, and could be prosecuted for lying under oath.
The back-and-forth harkens back to Trump’s infamous conversations with former FBI Director James Comey in 2017, where Trump lied about what they discussed and raised the specter of “tapes.” Like Bowers, Comey testified to Congress, under penalty of perjury, about the conversations with Trump.