The second public hearing from the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection revealed that Donald Trump was perhaps the worst loser in American political history.
It also showed how alone he stood among an inner circle that couldn’t convince him he had lost the 2020 election and a team that failed to get him to call off the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The former president declared the election as fraudulent “right out of the box on election night before there was actually any potential of looking at evidence,” former U.S. Attorney William Barr said in a taped deposition played by committee members on Monday, the second day of public hearings.
Matt Morgan, the Trump campaign’s general counsel, provided a videotaped deposition in which he noted that “the law firms were not comfortable making arguments” that Trump lawyer and adviser Rudy Giuliani was making publicly about election fraud.
One lawmaker described Giuliani as “apparently inebriated” on election night. At the same time, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, testified that the former president waited in the White House in a room with advisers as election results came in.
Meanwhile, Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien said his boss disagreed with those who suggested it was too early to call the election.
“They were going to go in a different direction,” said Kushner, who admitted telling Trump that “it was not the approach I would take if I were you.”
Following Joe Biden’s election win, Trump publicly declared himself the victor, and the Big Lie began.
He told supporters at the White House, including Barr, that a big vote dump had occurred in Detroit.
“I said, ‘Did anyone point out to you — did all the people complaining about it point out to you, you actually did better in Detroit than you did last time?” Barr said.
The former attorney general declared that there was “no indication of fraud” in Detroit.
Barr also put the kibosh on Trump’s claim of election fraud in Philadelphia.
“The president has repeatedly suggested there was some kind of outpouring of unexpected votes in inner-city areas like Philadelphia. That was absolute rubbish,” Barr said.
Close Trump associates also pushed back against the former president’s damaging but false claims that the Dominion voting machines were rigged.
Barr called Trump’s allegations against Dominion “disturbing” and baseless.
Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and loyal adviser, told the committee that he didn’t approve of Giuliani’s repeated “lies” during the 2020 election.
But Kushner declared that his father-in-law continued to speak favorably of Giuliani, even telling the inner circle that he had confidence in the former New York mayor.
When Trump claimed fraud in Georgia, his team members attempted to shoot down the declaration, particularly his remarks that there were illegal ballots in a suitcase in the Peach State.
“The ‘suitcase full of ballots’ [turned out] to be an official lockbox where ballots were stored for safety,” said former U.S. Attorney BJay Pak.
Many have compared Trump’s Big Lie to former President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal that led to Nixon resigning in shame.
“Nixon sought to undermine the Constitution to assure that he would win the 1972 election and then covered it up, for which he paid the price of forced resignation. Trump sought to undermine the Constitution to overturn an election he had lost in 2020. He didn’t cover up his efforts, though exactly what was going on still hasn’t been told in full. Instead, he attempted to build his case on a foundation of lies,” journalist and editor Dan Balz wrote in a June 13 column.
“Those who have studied Watergate see a line that travels from that scandal to the Trump presidency,” Balz wrote. “Part of this is because of the similarities between Nixon and Trump — the self-pitying nature of their personalities, the venality exhibited during their presidencies, the demonization of their opponents.”
Balz observed that Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) was a law student and legislative staffer to a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate.
He noted that today, she is a member of the Jan. 6 House panel investigating not just the attack on the Capitol but the broader effort to subvert the 2020 vote.
“We are in a political environment that is more sharply partisan than was the case during the Watergate era,” Lofgren told Balz. “And you’ve also got people who lie with impunity and feel that there’s no downside to it. I mean, when Nixon was caught in lies, he resigned.”