Jan 6. hearings day 2: Barr debunks Trump’s election fraud claims – CNN

Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House select committee, center, Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair, right, as well as Rep. Zoe Lofgren, left, and Rep. Stephanie Murphy, third from left, arrive during the second hearing on Monday, June 13.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House select committee, center, Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair, right, as well as Rep. Zoe Lofgren, left, and Rep. Stephanie Murphy, third from left, arrive during the second hearing on Monday, June 13. (Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol detailed Monday how those around then-President Donald Trump told him he lost the 2020 election — but he refused to listen, turning instead to his attorney Rudy Giuliani to embrace false claims that the election was stolen.

The hearing Monday was one witness short from what was planned, but the panel heard testimony from a former Fox News digital politics editor, a conservative lawyer, a former US attorney and a former Republican election official — who all said it was clear President Joe Biden won the election and Trump’s claims of fraud were nonsense.

The next hearing is set to take place Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the committee, said the presentation will focus on Trump’s “broader planning for Jan. 6, including his plan to corrupt the Department of Justice.” The witnesses have not yet been announced.

Here are the key takeaways from the panel’s second hearing this month about Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the violence in the Capitol on Jan: 6.

Stepien surprise sets off a scramble — but committee quickly adapts: The committee surprised many observers Sunday when it announced that Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien would be testifying in-person at Monday’s hearing. But Stepien had a surprise of his own on Monday morning, when he found out that his wife went into labor, so he pulled out of the hearing.

This whirlwind of events forced the committee to scramble — and they handled it deftly, albeit after a 45-minute delay.

Lawmakers and committee staff were obviously prepared with video clips from Stepien’s private deposition. And they played a lot of footage from his testimony Monday, which revealed new details about his conversations with Trump and how he advised the President not to prematurely declare victory on election night.

In some ways, the outcome gave the Democratic-run committee more power to control what the public heard from Stepien. He wasn’t in the room to say his piece, which could have included some defenses of Trump and some pushback against the committee. Instead, the panel could pick and choose which deposition clips it played, and they focused like a laser on the most damaging material for Trump.

Lengthy depositions take place of witness testimony: Stepien’s testimony wasn’t the committee’s only use of depositions on Monday. The panel played lengthy portions of former Attorney General William Barr’s deposition with the committee, where he described in detail why Trump’s fraud claims were “bogus” and why he has seen nothing since to convince him there was fraud.

“There was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were,” Barr said in video of his deposition played Monday. “I was somewhat demoralized, because I thought, ‘Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.’ “

The committee did not invite Barr to testify publicly for Monday’s hearing, but the minutes of his deposition that played made it feel at times as though he was there.

The video depositions have also given the committee the chance to show testimony from others in Trump’s inner circle — including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner — without having to bring them in to testify. And by just showing video depositions, the committee controls which soundbites are aired.

Barr becomes debunker-in-chief: Democrats reviled Barr when he was in office — accusing him of wielding the powers of the Justice Department to do Trump’s bidding, undermining the Russia investigation, and pushing right-wing conspiracy theories. But over the last two weeks, Barr has become a new hero of sorts for liberals, for aggressively debunking and condemning Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

The Democratic-run committee has featured clips from Barr’s deposition more than any other witness so far, and they interviewed more than 1,000 people as part of their yearlong investigation. These clips have established Barr as the highest-ranking Trump administration official to affirm the legitimacy of the election results and disavow Trump’s relentless effort to claim that the election was tainted by fraud.

During Monday’s hearing, Barr dismantled specific Trump-backed claims about illegal “vote dumps” in Detroit, nationwide vote-rigging by Dominion with its election machines, and other conspiracy theories.

Read more takeaways here.

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