The House January 6th Select Committee hearings have presented powerful, compelling evidence that former President Donald Trump led a criminal conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election. This included sending an armed mob to the Capitol to disrupt the certification in Congress of Joe Biden as President. It also included other lines of effort both across the battleground states (such as with false alternate slates of electors) and within the institutions of government (especially the Department of Justice).
The three of us — Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and former counsel in the first Trump impeachment Ambassador Norman Eisen (ret.), President of CREW Noah Bookbinder, Founder and President of Democracy 21 Fred Wertheimer — and our colleagues have been publishing a Criminal Evidence Tracker on Just Security after each Committee hearing. The Tracker summarizes the evidence that has emerged in the hearings of criminal conduct by Trump and his close collaborators.
The Tracker focuses on three criminal laws implicated by Trump’s actions: whether Trump conspired to defraud the United States (18 U.S. Code Section 371), whether Trump conspired to obstruct an official proceeding (18 U.S. Code Section 1512), and whether Trump engaged in criminal solicitation to commit election fraud under Georgia law (Georgia Code Section 21-2- 604).
Using Trump’s own speeches and statements, the Committee established that as early as April 2020, Trump had been insisting that he would lose the election only if it were rigged against him. These claims—all lacking basis—continued from the spring before the election, to Election Night, to the congressional certification of the election results on January 6, and to this day.
The following bullet points, organized by witness or participant, are drawn from the Criminal Evidence Tracker and highlight key testimony received to date by the January 6th Committee:
Cassidy Hutchinson, former White House senior aide to COS Mark Meadows
- Meadows’ aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that, on January 2, 2021, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani asked her if she was excited for January 6, and told her “something to the effect of ‘we’re going to the Capitol. … It’s going to be great. The President’s going to be there. He’s going to look powerful. He’s going to be with the members. He’s going to be with the Senators.’” Hutchinson testified that she asked Meadows about what Giuliani told her, and Meadows responded, “There’s a lot going on … but … things might get real, real bad on January 6th.”
- Hutchinson testified that Trump instructed Meadows to speak with Roger Stone and former National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, on the evening of January 5, 2021 to discuss how January 6 would play out, and that Meadows made those phone calls. That day and on January 6, Stone was photographed with members of the Oath Keepers, who were serving as Stone’s security detail.
- Hutchinson testified that Trump and his staff were told that persons attending the January 6 rally on the National Mall had weapons, including knives, guns in the form of pistols and rifles, bear spray, body armor, spears, and flagpoles. According to Hutchinson, Trump did not want rally attendees to be screened by magnetometers (mags). Hutchinson overheard Trump say in a backstage tent at the rally, “I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.” Thus, aware that persons at the rally had weapons, Trump in his speech to the crowd encouraged them to march to the Capitol.
- According to Hutchinson, Trump wanted to personally go to the Capitol after the rally and was angry when the Secret Service did not allow him to do so. In recorded interviews, former White House staffers Nick Luna and Max Miller, and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany corroborated Hutchinson’s testimony that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol along with the crowd. It was also corroborated by a National Security Council (NSC) Chat Log from January 6.
- Hutchinson testified that she observed White House attorney Pat Cipollone telling Meadows that rioters had reached the Capitol building and trying to convince Meadows to talk to Trump. Hutchinson testified that Meadows told Cipollone that Trump “doesn’t wanna do anything” about it. It wasn’t until Cipollone insisted on going to Trump himself, and “said something to the effect of … something needs to be done, or people are going to die and the blood’s gonna be on your effing hands” that Meadows responded.
- Hutchinson testified that she overheard a conversation between Trump, Cipollone, and Meadows discussing the fact that the rioters were chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” Hutchinson also overheard an immediate follow-up to that conversation between Cipollone and Meadows during which Cipollone said: “They’re literally calling for the Vice President to be effing hung.” Meadows “responded something to the effect of ‘you heard him … [Trump] thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think [the individuals in the crowd are] doing anything wrong,’” according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
- White House Counsel told Meadows, Giuliani, and a few of Giuliani’s associates that the scheme to organize alternate electors was “not legally sound,” according to testimony by Hutchinson.
- Several House members, including Representatives Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert, Scott Perry, and Marjorie Taylor Green asked Chief of Staff Meadows or other White House staff for pardons in relation to their activities to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to Hutchinson. The idea was also raised of giving a blanket pardon to all involved in the circumstances surrounding the events that occurred in the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
- According to testimony from Hutchinson, both Meadows and Giuliani indicated they were interested in receiving a presidential pardon related to January 6th.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
- Trump publicly claimed there was “massive voter fraud” in Georgia despite the fact that, according to testimony by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the vote was counted three times and the three counts were “all remarkably close.” Despite the fact that multiple senior Justice Department officials told Trump that allegations were thoroughly investigated and had no merit, Trump and Giuliani claimed, based on a video, that election workers counting ballots in Fulton County pulled out “suitcases” of 18,000 fake ballots for Biden and counted them multiple times.
- Raffensperger testified that Trump’s claims that votes were illegally cast or illegally counted in Georgia were all investigated and shown to be false. Gabe Sterling, chief operating officer of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, said that the video about the “suitcases” cited by Trump and Giuliani showed only “workers engaging in normal ballot processing” and nothing improper occurred. Trump’s claims of voter fraud in Georgia were also investigated by the Justice Department. Attorney General William Barr said there was “no merit” to Trump’s claim. ThenActing Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue said he told Trump that his claims of fraud in Georgia were “not supported by the evidence.”
- Trump applied pressure to Georgia officials to change the election results. He told a state election investigator that she would be “praised” when “the right answer” came out and urged her to do “whatever you can do.” Raffensperger testified that in a call with Trump on January 2, 2021, Trump again pressed Raffensperger to recalculate the election result in Georgia and again brought up the claim that “suitcases of ballots” were improperly counted in Fulton County and that votes were cast by deceased voters, even though Trump had been told these claims had been investigated and were false. In the call, Trump said to Raffensperger, “All I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes … because we won the state.” (Biden had a vote margin in Georgia of 11,779 votes). Trump said that “the real truth is I won by 400,000 votes … I only need 11,000 votes.” According to a tape of the phone conversation, Trump also threatened Raffensperger with criminal prosecution unless he did what Trump wanted, telling Raffensperger that it’s “more illegal for you than it is for them” and that’s “a big risk” for Raffensperger to take.
Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue
- Trump and Jeffrey Clark, acting head of the Civil Division at the Justice Department, worked together on a scheme for Clark to be named Acting Attorney General to replace Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and to then challenge election results in a number of key states that Biden won. Clark had drafted and on December 28, 2020 presented to Rosen a proposed letter for the Department of Justice to send to Georgia and other states that claimed the Department had identified “significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election” and that the state legislature should “convene in special session” to reconsider the electors chosen. The letter said that the states involved had “failed” to choose a winner and therefore the state legislatures should choose the presidential electors to represent their states. This was an effort to use a loophole in the Presidential Election Day Act of 1845 to have state legislatures override the choice of the voters in the states involved.
- The January 6th Committee provided evidence of direct links between Clark, John Eastman, and Ken Klukowski, a lawyer who joined the Justice Department on December 15, 2020. According to Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, Klukowski worked under Clark, and they worked together to write the December 28 draft letter. An email (dated December 18, 2020) recommending that Eastman and Klukowski brief Pence “suggests that Mr. Klukowski was simultaneously working with Jeffrey Clark to draft the proposed letter to Georgia officials to overturn their certified election and working with Dr. Eastman to help pressure the Vice President to overturn the election,” Vice Chair Cheney said. She further noted that the draft contained “text … similar to what we have seen from John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom were coordinating with President Trump to overturn the 2020 election,” indicating agreement between those individuals as all were acting in concert.
- Rosen and acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue refused to sign the letter because they thought it was not the Department’s role to dictate to states how to choose electors and because the claim that the Justice Department had found widespread election fraud was completely groundless. They told Clark they would not sign the letter. Trump then took steps to replace Rosen with Clark in order to ensure that the Department would send the letter. On January 3, Clark told Rosen that Trump offered him the job of Acting Attorney General and that he had accepted it. Trump abandoned the plan to replace Rosen with Clark only after being confronted by Rosen, Donoghue, Assistant Attorney General Steven Engle, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and others in a White House meeting on January 3 and told that there would be “hundreds and hundreds” of resignations of leaders in the Justice Department if he fired Rosen.
- Donoghue testified that he was blunt with Trump and explained “piece by piece … in a serial fashion” why each theory of fraud Trump suggested was “not true.” For example, Donoghue testified that he explained that the Allied Security Operations Group’s report on Antrim County, Michigan was false and that a hand recount had confirmed there was actually only a .0063% error rate – “one error, one ballot.” Donoghue also testified that he explained that the FBI had investigated and found untrue a truck driver’s allegations of ballots being sent from New York to Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, Trump continued publicly alleging fraud.
- Rosen testified that between December 23 and January 3, Trump “either called me or met with me virtually every day” to pressure him and the Justice Department to pursue allegations of fraud in an apparent effort to get the Department to lend support for Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Rosen testified that Trump expressed dissatisfaction with what the Justice Department had done and pushed actions that Rosen and others didn’t think were appropriate. Rosen further testified that Trump pushed for the Justice Department to send letters to state legislatures, appoint a special counsel for election fraud, file a Justice Department lawsuit in the Supreme Court, and make public statements or hold a press conference regarding claims of election fraud. Rosen also said Trump asked him to meet with Giuliani on these matters. Rosen did none of this.
- According to Donoghue’s contemporaneous handwritten notes and testimony, Trump asked him directly for the Justice Department to “just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.” Trump was asking for Donoghue to lie publicly, because Donoghue had told Trump that the theories of fraud were not true. Donoghue refused to do this.
- Rosen testified that on December 31, 2020, Trump asked the Justice Department to seize voting machines from states. According to Donoghue when Rosen refused, Trump then asked the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for DHS to do it. No one seized voting machines.
- On multiple occasions, Rosen, and Donoghue told Trump that his various claims of election fraud were incorrect or had already been debunked by the Department of Justice.
- Donoghue said Trump refused to accept alleged proof that he lost the election. According to Donoghue: “There were so many of these allegations that when you gave him a very direct answer on one of them, he wouldn’t fight us on it, but he’d move to another allegation.” He said about Trump’s claims of fraud in counting the ballots in Fulton County, Georgia: “I told the President myself that several times, in several conversations, that these allegations about ballots being smuggled in a suitcase and run through the machines several times, it was not true.”
Former Attorney General William Barr
- Trump repeated allegations of election fraud that were clearly and irrefutably false, and he was apparently told that by his Attorney General. Former Attorney General WilliamBarr said he told Trump there was “zero basis for the allegations” of widespread election fraud — and said Trump was “detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.”
- Barr called Trump’s claims “bullshit,” “idiotic,” “stupid,” “complete nonsense,” and “crazy stuff.” He said about his discussions with Trump, “There was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.” Barr also said there was “zero basis” for arguing Dominion Voting Systems had rigged the voting machine in favor of Biden or had otherwise shifted any votes to Biden.
- Barr testified: “The President has repeatedly suggested that there was some kind of outpouring of unexpected votes in inner city areas like Philadelphia.” Barr also testified: “And what [Mastriano] did was he mixed apples and oranges. He took the number of applications for the Republican primary and he compared it to the number of absentee votes cast in the general election. But once you actually go and look and compare apples to apples, there’s no discrepancy at all. And, you know, that’s one of the – I – I think at some point I covered that with the President.”
Trump lawyer John Eastman / former Vice President chief counsel Greg Jacob
- Trump lawyer John Eastman and Trump pursued a joint plan to have Pence either reject certain electoral votes cast for Biden and then declare Trump the winner of the 2020 election or suspend the counting of electoral votes for 10 days and return the electoral votes from certain states back for the state legislatures to reconsider the votes. Eastman admitted in front of Trump that his plan to overturn the election violated several provisions of the Electoral Count Act, according to Vice President Pence’s Chief Counsel, Greg Jacob. Jacob also testified that Eastman admitted to him if it came before the Supreme Court, the plan would lose unanimously.
- The January 6th Committee showed video evidence illustrating how Trump, Eastman, Giuliani, Trump legal advisor Jenna Ellis, and others acted in concert to deliver the same messages and make the same requests of different state legislators, in a coordinated effort to push them to appoint alternate electors that would vote for Trump despite the popular vote in those states going for Biden.
- According to a summary presented by Committee staff, Trump and his lawyers pressured several state legislatures to decertify slates of Biden electors that had been certified in those states consistent with the election results and instead to recertify slates of Trump electors.
- The White House Counsel’s office told Meadows, Giuliani, and Giuliani’s associates the fake electors scheme was not “legally sound” according to Cassidy Hutchinson, who witnessed the meeting.
- Eastman said in an email obtained by the Committee: “The fact that we have multiple slate[s] of electors demonstrates the uncertainty of either. That should be enough.” This email showed that the Trump team deceptively manufactured the very uncertainty it needed to obstruct the counting of certified electoral votes for Biden.
- Jacob confirmed the context of a January 6 email exchange with Eastman in which Eastman said that he advised Trump in his professional judgment the Vice President did not have the power to decide things unilaterally but that “once [President Trump] gets something in his head, it’s hard to get him to change course.”
Trump campaign lawyer Cleta Mitchell
- Trump campaign lawyer Cleta Mitchell told the January 6th Committee that Trump’s strategy to overturn the election started “right after the election — it might have been before the election” indicating that the Trump team expected to lose but nevertheless intended to find a way to obstruct the ultimate certification of the result. Mitchell wrote an email to Eastman just two days after the election asking him to write a memo to justify the strategy. This appears to be the genesis of the now-public Eastman memos articulating the Trump team’s scheme.
Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers
- Despite Trump, Giuliani, and Ellis telling Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers on multiple occasions that they had names and evidence to back up their claims of voter fraud, Bowers testified Giuliani admitted to him in the presence of others: “We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence.”
- Giuliani and his associates never produced any evidence despite being asked to do so several times by Bowers and others, and promising that they would. Nevertheless, they still pushed Bowers to call the Arizona legislature into special session, and wrongly suggested that the legislature could dismiss Biden electors and replace them with Trump electors. Bowers rejected their efforts saying it would be contrary to his oath of office to uphold the law and the Constitution.
Former Wisconsin Republican Party chair Andrew Hitt
- Former Wisconsin Republican Party chair Andrew Hitt told the January 6th Committee that he was told the alternate electors sought by Trump’s team “would only count if a court ruled” in favor of Trump. Otherwise, “it would have been using our electors in ways that we weren’t told about and we wouldn’t have supported.” Nevertheless, fake elector certificates from Wisconsin were submitted to the National Archives and an attempt was made to submit them to Pence as President of the Senate.