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The second hearing of the bipartisan House January 6 Committee to investigate the assault on the United  States Capitol on Jan. 6, 20221 was a stark reminder of just how close this nation came to losing its democratic framework. The revealing dive into the questions raised in last week’s article prior to the Thursday prime-time hearing; What did Trump know, when did he know it; and, it could be added, why did he do what he did?

These are not esoteric questions somewhere out in the ether — these questions matter to every single voter, who has a right to know that our elections are indeed safe and secure. They also deserve to know that the violence of Jan. 6 was but one part of a coordinated effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Each of the multiple Jan. 6 committee hearings will now lay out Trump’s attempts at other avenues to stay in power.

Last week’s hearing focused with broad brushstrokes on the overall picture that former President Donald Trump knew what he was doing when he revved up the crowd that had arrived at his orders in Washington D.C. for Jan. 6 and pointed them at the Capitol where the U.S. Senate, presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, was assembled to certify the state’s electoral votes.

We learned that what happened that day, and in the weeks preceding it, was a bona fide coup attempt that if it had succeeded, could have destroyed democracy as we know it. As it is, we still don’t know what damage (temporary or permanent) has been done to our republic.

In this second hearing the committee focused on the disinformation perpetrated by Trump and a small group surrounding him and what their reasons were for misleading the American public. What follows is a recap of the evidence presented with witnesses, written statements, and revealing records, receipts and documents.

Trump Was Told He Would Lose

Among the first revelation is the fact that Trump had access to all the election data. Trump was told that he was going to lose the election, that he had lost the election, and that there was no way that he could win or did win.  He purposely chose to ignore the data and the number-crunchers and made up the lie that there had been massive voter fraud and ballot irregularities.

Instead of listening to the campaign’s “Team Normal” data analysts who said, ‘the votes are still being counted, don’t say anything yet,’ Trump listened to an inebriated Rudy Giuliani (former Mayor of New York and campaign supporter) and went out and announced to the world that he had won the election.

Why?

Because although he had access to all the campaign data and the data analysts who told him the truth  — he chose to believe the drunk guy (Giuliani), who according to several people physically at the White House as election night dragged on, was three sheets to the wind.

Georgia was one of the states in trump’s crosshairs. According to B.J. Pak, former U.S. Attorney in Georgia, who was fired by Trump for not supporting Trump’s baseless allegations that 1) ballots had been double and triple counted in Georgia, (2) that there must be suitcases of ballots being flown in from Italy or Germany, and 3) voting machines were purposely changing votes. “All of it was false,” said Pak. “Not a single claim was true.”

Trump Had Reasons to Perpetrate Disinformation

“Team Normal was replaced by Team Nuts because we were barriers to the president’s scheme,” said former campaign director Bill Stepien, who has spent years managing Republican campaigns. “I have built up a reputation for being honest and professional and what was happening was neither honest nor normal.”

Stepien in a taped interview (he was excused from appearing in person because his wife went into labor), said that he and other campaign regulars met with Trump before the election, after Trump advanced the idea that mail-in voting would be at fault if he didn’t win and the election would be a fraud. They tried to get him away from this idea, explaining that Republicans, especially the elderly, like the convenience of voting by mail, and publicly putting down this voting method could depress voter turnout. Trump ignored them and went on bashing mail-in voting and the U.S. Post Office.

“It was just nuts,” said former Attorney General Bill Barr. In interviews with the Jan. 6 Committee, he said he met several times from before election day through mid-December with Trump, and every time he told the president that there had been no voter fraud, that the Justice Department had found no voter fraud, and reminded him that every challenge brought by Trump’s lawyers had lost in court. “Trump claimed in advance that if he didn’t win, the election would be a fraud. His was an attempt to overthrow the government,” he continued.” I thought, if he believes this stuff, he’s detached from reality. If he doesn’t, then this is criminal intent.”

Barr subsequently resigned as Attorney General just before Christmas, but he said nothing about the disturbing meetings with Trump, until called by the committee to testify. But while Barr remained silent, Trump and a troupe of true believers in the lie — like Giuliani and Sidney Powell and “the Pillow Guy” and Fox News — set about repeating and repeating and repeating, thousands of times, the big lie that the election had been stolen.

Trump Perpetrated the Big Rip-off

Building on that big lie, Trump and troupe announced his Election Defense Fund, which raised more than $250 million, much of it from people of modest incomes who believed him.

But there was never any fund. According to witnesses at the hearing, the lie and the fund appear to have been set up to perpetuate the lie, and to make money. So readers, if you contributed — you were had. Soliciting money for a purpose that does not exist, or raising it and using it for something else, is fraud.

Now, the Jan. 6 committee is holding a hearing; it is not their job to prosecute, and there isn’t any decision to refer this to the Justice Department for criminal action.  But it could be pointed out that when it was discovered that there was no Election Defense Fund, then the Save America PAC was set up. It too, misled donors. “It was all a grift,” said Committee Member Representative Zoe Lofgren (D, California). “We want to know, what has been raised, where did it go, how much was spent?” She described the false claims of an Election Defense Fund as the “big rip-off,” after the big lie.

Co-chair of the Jan. 6 Committee Rep. Liz Chaney, (R, Wyoming) in her remarks said that “Trump’s plan may have been to make the election itself irrelevant. It is easier to cheat than to win.”

In fact, it was pointed out that on election night when Trump wouldn’t listen to his sane advisors, he listened to Giuliani who advised him on the election night that the counting of the votes should be stopped. He knew that legally, votes must be counted. He knew he couldn’t just tell state attorneys general to throw out votes. He knew that the counting of mail-in votes in many states does not even begin until after the votes from that day are counted and that it is a fact that Democrats are more likely to vote with mail-in ballots than Republicans. But the then-president purposely ignored what he knew.

So at the end of the second hearing, as multiple witnesses testified, as documents and the public record revealed —  it now appears to present this reality: that a drunken advisor set a corrupt president on a collision course with democracy.

Featured image: The assault on the United States Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6 had direct links with right-wing militant groups including the Proud Boys, and the Oathkeepers.