The January 6 Select Committee’s fourth public hearing on Tuesday provided significant new evidence of the multitiered structure of Trump and his allies’ scheme to overturn the election. It further documented the surprisingly simple structure of the conspiracy: Trump and his allies knew there was no factual or legal basis to overturn the election but tried to do so anyhow. Tuesday’s hearing documented how that unfolded in the states , revealing important new state-specific evidence about the efforts of Donald Trump and his associates to overturn the 2020 election. In advance of Thursday’s hearing describing how the conspiracy played out at the Department of Justice, we outline the state of the proof in the fourth edition of our criminal evidence tracker (available below and as a PDF).
The first witness was the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Rusty Bowers. He described the pressure campaign he faced in this closely decided swing state. At the start, Representative Adam Schiff of California read to Bowers a new statement made by Donald Trump shortly before the hearing, in which Trump claimed that Bowers himself told Trump in November 2020 that the election in Arizona had been rigged. Bowers testified that the former president’s statement was false.
Bowers then described multiple calls he received from Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani, and John Eastman throughout the post-election period. In all of those calls, the former president and his collaborators pushed Bowers to pursue various outrageous (and potentially illegal) schemes to override Biden’s victory in the state. Bowers rejected the entreaties, testifying that no evidence was ever produced, despite several promises to do so by Giuliani and another Trump lawyer, Jenna Ellis. “We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence” on election fraud, Giuliani once said, according to Bowers, who noted at least three other witnesses in his group who heard Giuliani’s statement.
Tuesday’s shift to the effort in the states was also significant because the most compelling case against Trump may end up being in the jurisdiction of a state-level prosecutor, namely Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis. As some of the authors have discussed elsewhere, Willis’s case is especially strong because of Trump’s January 2, 2021 call to Secretary of State Raffensperger in which Trump exhorted Raffensperger to “find 11,780” votes that would swing the state to Trump’s column. That call, as well as other potential malfeasance in the state of which there is significant evidence, may well have violated multiple Georgia laws, most prominently criminal solicitation to commit election fraud. (We include the evidence for that crime specifically in our tracker.)
After Bowers’ testimony on Arizona, the committee turned to the Georgia pressure campaign. This follows last Thursday’s focus on the massive stress applied to Vice President Mike Pence. They each follow a theme of sustained pressure on state and federal officials to violate their oaths office to participate in means to overturn the election results.
Guided by Representative Schiff, Raffensperger in his testimony systematically debunked each fraud claim Trump had made on the January 2 call, from which the committee played snippets throughout the hearing. Raffensperger confirmed that he and his office investigated each of the claims Trump floated and found them all to be lacking merit.
Raffensperger also confirmed that he could not have legally changed the vote count. By the time of the January 2 call, BJ Pak, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia (who testified in the committee’s second hearing) had confirmed that his office had looked into Trump’s fraud claims and found nothing. That was on top of the multiple recounts confirming Biden’s victory, as well as the many times Trump’s closest advisors told him that he had lost the election.
The committee then zeroed in on the portion of Trump’s call to Raffensperger in which he suggested that Raffensperger could face a “big risk” of criminal liability for not going along with Trump’s demands. That was followed by the segment in which Trump asked the secretary of state to “find 11,780 votes.” Trump also claimed that it was “very dangerous” for Raffensperger to be publicly claiming that the election was secure. “I felt then and still believe today that this was a threat,” Raffensperger wrote in his book, as Rep. Schiff noted in the hearing. In his testimony, Raffensberger then detailed the threats he and his family received in the wake of his defense of the election.
Additional details about the role played by Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, also surfaced during the Tuesday hearing. Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that Meadows was present in a meeting with the White House Counsel’s Office in which the latter told Meadows and Giuliani, also present, that the alternate-electors scheme was “not legally sound.”
Schiff also repeated that the White House and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows attempted to contact Raffensperger’s office 18 times before the January 2 call, and that Meadows visited the site of a small-scale audit in Cobb County supervised by Raffensperger’s chief investigator, Frances Watson. Meadows then set up a call between Watson and Trump, during which Trump asked Watson to do “whatever you can do” and stated that “when the right answer comes out you’ll be praised.” Meadows also discussed sending investigators in Watson’s office a “shitload of POTUS stuff” (in the words of a White House aide) MAGA merchandise and the like, while the audit was ongoing.
While the ongoing criminal investigation in Fulton Country, Georgia added weight to this part of Tuesday’s hearing, the witnesses and evidence further established the expansiveness of the Trump team’s effort at the state level. The testimony of Bowers, Sterling, and Raffensperger was complemented by that of Shaye Moss. She was an election worker who helped process ballots in Atlanta, and her words demonstrated the personal toll exacted by Trump’s unceasing attacks on officials and poll workers who professionally administered and defended the 2020 election. All those who testified on Tuesday faced vitriolic abuse and death threats for their roles in the election.
Expanding from Arizona and Georgia, the committee presented a stream of video clips and recordings of Trump’s team, most prominently Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, testifying before state legislators or making direct calls to state legislative leaders pressing them for meetings to discuss overturning the election results. In one instance, Ellis and Giuliani placed direct calls to Bryan Cutler of Pennsylvania, the Republican speaker of the state House of Representatives, every day in the last week of November even though Cutler asked his lawyers to tell Giuliani to stop calling.
The committee also devoted time in the hearing to the alternate-electors scheme undertaken in seven swing states that Biden won. One of the committee’s investigators explained that the Trump campaign instructed the false electors in several states that they “needed to cast their ballots in complete secrecy.” Speaking to Trump’s direct involvement in the plot, Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), testified that Trump called her personally to solicit the RNC’s aid in the fake-elector scheme. The Trump campaign also arranged for the transmittal of the fake elector slates to Washington, D.C. in advance of January 6.
Tuesday’s hearing elucidated provided significant new evidence of the multitiered structure of Trump and his allies’ scheme to overturn the election. The committee’s next hearing on Thursday will bring the lens back to the federal level, with a focus on Trump’s efforts to weaponize the Department of Justice to secure the election reversal he sought.
We will continue to update our charts after Thursday’s hearing and future ones. The current editions are provided below and as a separate PDF.