State Republicans say Trump wanted them to break law to keep him in power

Source: The Hill | June 21, 2022 | Mike Lillis and Rebecca Beitsch

Former President Trump’s campaign to press GOP state officials to overturn the results of the 2020 election violated state laws, defied the Constitution and led directly to violent threats that continue to this day, a number of Republicans testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Appearing before the House committee investigating last year’s attack on the Capitol, the Republican election officials said Trump’s team, led by the president himself, made fantastic allegations of voter fraud — all of them false — and asked numerous state figures to break the law to keep Trump in power despite his clear defeat.

“The numbers are the numbers, and the number’s don’t lie,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump had pressed to “find” 11,780 votes — the number that would have made him the winner in that state. 

Raffensperger noted that three separate recount efforts in the Peach State all found Joe Biden to be the winner by a “remarkably” similar margin. 

“What I knew is we didn’t have any more votes to find,” he said.

Their testimony provided the latest affirmation of the select committee’s central accusation against the former president: Trump had abused the powers of the White House to promote a lie — that the election was stolen — and nullify the wishes of voters in several key states where the margins were slimmest. It was that campaign, in the committee’s telling, that led directly to the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 

“The president’s lie was and is a dangerous cancer on the body politic,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the select committee. “If you can convince Americans that they cannot trust their own elections, that any time they lose it is somehow illegitimate, then what is left but violence to determine who should govern.” 

To make their case, the committee returned to a tactic that’s practically defined the public-hearing phase of their investigation: allowing Republicans to provide the details of Trump’s alleged wrongdoing. 

The GOP officials — representing Arizona and Georgia, two battlegrounds that became a focus of Trump’s efforts — said they all supported his reelection, but couldn’t comply with his demands for the simple reason that they were illegal. 

Central to Trump’s campaign was the farming out false claims of election fraud to state officials asking them to intervene in delaying the certification of vote totals, a move that included an effort to send fake certificates to Washington signed by “alternate” electors. 

The committee showed Trump played a central role in that effort. 

Ronna McDaniel, head of the Republican National Committee (RNC), told investigators that it was the former president who initiated a call asking the RNC to help with the fake electors scheme.

Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows called or texted 18 times to arrange Trump’s now infamous call with Raffensperger.

And it was Trump, along with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who reached out to Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) asking him to “replace” electors.

“I didn’t want to be used as a pawn,” Bowers said.

“You are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it, and I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona. And this is totally foreign as an idea or a theory to me, and I would never do anything of such magnitude without deep consultation with qualified attorneys,” Bowers said.

Bowers said Trump and Giuliani phoned him directly after the election with claims that, between undocumented immigrants and dead people, hundreds of thousands of illegal votes had been cast in the Grand Canyon State. Giuliani, Bowers said, claimed to have ready evidence of the fraud, but never provided it. And he later acknowledged that there was no evidence, only “theories.” 

“[Giuliani] said, ‘We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence,’” Bowers said. “And I don’t know if that was a gaffe or maybe he didn’t think through what he said.”


The officials also described how their decision to buck Trump’s demands led to a fierce backlash from Trump’s supporters, including protests outside their homes, violent threats against themselves and their families — including death threats — and a wave of calls, emails and texts that have forced them to reimagine how they conduct their everyday lives.


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