US lawmakers probe Trump’s pressure on states to reverse vote

US lawmakers probe Trump's pressure on states to reverse vote

Capitol Riots Probe: The committee said Trump and his allies were personally involved in reversing the votes.

Washington:

Arizona’s top lawmaker testified on Tuesday to Donald Trump’s intense pressure on him to annul the 2020 election, as congressional hearings on the former president’s bid to cling to power after his defeat entered a third week.

Members of the committee investigating the January 2021 assault on the US Capitol spent much of June laying out their initial findings that Trump carried out a multi-pronged conspiracy to nullify the election, culminating in the insurgency in Washington.

The committee said at its fourth hearing that Trump and his allies were personally involved in pushing Republican-controlled legislatures to reverse the results in several swing states away from Joe Biden and into Trump’s column.

Rusty Bowers, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, testified about pressure from Trump and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to overturn his state’s results.

Bowers said Trump had requested a hearing at the Arizona State Capitol to investigate allegations of voter fraud, but Bowers responded that the evidence did not warrant a hearing, “and I didn’t want to be used as a a pawn”.

“You ask me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath,” Bowers told Trump, according to his testimony.

Bowers said he asked Giuliani “repeatedly” for proof of his stolen campaign claims.

He told committee members that Giuliani said “we have a lot of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.”

The official said he received 20,000 emails and tens of thousands of voicemails that were “overwhelming” his office as the Trump campaign increased pressure, making the job impossible.

He was loudly accused of being a pedophile and corrupted by protesters outside his home and office, he said.

– “Part of the playbook” –

Bowers was one of several senior Republican state officials who lent themselves to thwarting the will of millions of voters based on false allegations of fraud, the panel said.

“A handful of election officials in several key states have stood between Donald Trump and the overthrow of American democracy,” said committee chairman Bennie Thompson, adding that “pressuring officials to betray (their ) oath was a fundamental part of the playbook”.

Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, said Trump was aware that his false allegations of fraud could lead to violence, but continued to pressure state officials regardless.

Trump, she said, played a “direct and personal role” in the campaign, alongside Giuliani and another lawyer for the ex-president, John Eastman.

US presidents are not directly elected by citizens, but chosen by “voters” appointed to a body called the Electoral College.

Each state has as many voters as it has members of Congress and there are 538 in total.

The committee says a key part of the plot to overturn the 2020 election was to trick pro-Trump Republicans in swing states Biden won into submitting official-looking but bogus certificates claiming they were the legitimate voters .

The committee says it will demonstrate that Trump pressed his Vice President Mike Pence to accept these “false voters” when he was overseeing the certification of Biden’s victory on January 6, 2021.

Pence ultimately refused to recognize the pro-Trump slates, and the president’s supporters rioted for hours on Capitol Hill in scenes of unprecedented brutality that left at least five people dead.

Also among the witnesses was Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump infamously urged to ‘find’ enough votes to overcome Biden’s lead in the battleground state in a phone call that goes a long way. subject of a state-level criminal investigation.

– ‘Public trust’ –

Highlighting the effect on local officials, Michigan State Senator Mike Shirky told investigators he received “just under 4,000 text messages” shortly after the Trump campaign released its personal information online.

Shaye Moss, a former Georgia election official who processed ballots in 2020, will also appear in person.

Trump and Giuliani falsely accused Moss and his mother Ruby Freeman of “rigging” the count with “suitcases” full of ballots for Biden.

Thompson warned that the threat that Trump and his allies posed to American democracy was not over.

“People who believe this lie are now seeking positions of public trust,” he said.

“If that happens, who will make sure our institutions don’t buckle under the pressure?”

Trump released a statement, read aloud during the hearing, attempting to discredit Bowers, accusing him of being a “RINO” – “Republican in name only” – and claiming he told Trump that the election was rigged and he had actually won Arizona.

Bowers said both items were false.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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