The January 6th House Select Committee has produced substantial evidence about former President Donald Trump’s knowledge and beliefs as he tried to overturn the 2020 election. This body of evidence carries potentially great legal (and moral) weight. That’s because several of Trump’s actions would amount to criminal (and morally outrageous) conduct if he acted with particular forms of knowledge and intent.
The Chart below presents key factual findings – concerning evidence of Trump’s knowledge and beliefs when trying to overturn the election – based primarily on the Committee’s work to date.
Since before the hearings began, public commentary has focused, in large part, on whether Trump knew he had lost the election. That quandary is irrelevant to the criminal intent required for several of the most relevant federal and state crimes. It is an important yet limited way to think of the evidence of knowledge and intent that prosecutors could rely upon in bringing charges.
The following list highlights just some of the information presented in the Chart below.
- Lying about victory on Election Night (Nov 3-Nov. 4 early AM)
- Manufacturing false allegations of election fraud (December 3, 2020-early January, 2021)
- Trying to force Department of Justice officials to lie about the department’s findings of election fraud (late December, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021)
- Advancing false claims of election fraud after being told by senior DOJ and campaign officials of irrefutable flaws in the claims (Dec. 2020 – Jan. 6, 2021).
- Lying about communications with federal and state officials in efforts to pressure them (Jan. 2-Jan. 6, 2021)
The Chart contains several more entries describing related actions, knowledge, and beliefs.
The Chart is not exhaustive. For example, it does not address Trump’s state of knowledge about the legal duties of the vice president on January 6. It does not address Trump’s knowledge and direction of the false slates of electors. And it does not address Trump’s knowledge that some of his supporters were armed when he directed them to the Capitol and his endorsement of their actions in private communications in the Oval Office. This evidence – and the use of political violence in particular – may directly inform how one views other parts of the record, that is, of an individual who was willing to support almost any means possible to overturn the election. What follows is a body of evidence that very clearly shows other aspects of Trump’s knowledge and beliefs, aspects of the record which have not received this level of documentation or the attention they deserve.
The Chart is below as a SCRIBD file and is also available as a separate PDF.