The Jan. 6 Hearings Are Really An Inquest Into The ‘Big Lie’

Former President Donald Trump Believes that the House Special Committee investigating the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol should not investigate the attack, but should instead investigate the allegations of voter fraud that spurred the attack. But Trump is not allowed to watch the hearings because they are about these claims.

So far, the hearings have focused less on the specific acts committed that day and more on the disinformation campaign Trump waged before and after the 2020 election. This campaign has told millions of Americans a lie, convinced them it’s true, and inspired hundreds to violently disrupt the country’s democratic process. The hearings have shown how Trump continued to promote the “big lie” despite his advisers telling him it was nonsense, dozens of lawsuits attempting to prove fraud were dismissed, and investigators found no evidence of fraud. The hearings focused on the systemic rot of Trump’s denial and how it culminated in the Jan. 6 attack. The focus of the hearings is twofold: the disease of misinformation, not just the symptoms of its malignity, and how this disease, if left unchecked, can become a violent destructive force.

On Monday, the committee used recorded and live testimony from people close to Trump to demonstrate that allegations of voter fraud by Trump and his supporters were investigated and repeatedly found to be nonsense. Recorded testimonies from Bill Stepien, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager and former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr, as well as live testimonies from Benjamin Ginsberg, a Republican electoral attorney, and BJay Pak, a former Trump-appointed US attorney in Georgia, told stories of various claims are pursued in vain.

For example, Stepien recalled a claim that non-citizens had cast illegal ballots in Arizona. “And since margins are as tight as previously described, that could potentially play a role,” Stepien said. So he asked Trump’s campaign attorney, Alex Cannon, to take care of it. “I remember the reaction to that, the reality of it, wasn’t illegal citizens voting in the elections, I think it was like foreign voters voting in the elections. So obviously people who were eligible to vote.”

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Another example was covered in Barr’s testimony — a claim that more absentee ballots were returned than mailed in Pennsylvania. This claim was promoted by Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano, who is now the Republican nominee for state governor. Mastriano tweeted in November 2020 that the state mailed 1.8 million ballots but received 2.6 million absentee ballots. But that’s not true: Mastriano compared the number of mail-in ballots sent out for the primary Vote on the number returned in the federal election. As a matter of fact, more than 3 million voters in Pennsylvania requested postal ballot papers for the general.

These allegations were investigated by both the Justice Department and Trump’s campaign team, according to witnesses, and have repeatedly been proven false. But those who leaked that information to the then-president ran into the same problem that fact-checkers have had since the election: With so many false claims of fraud, every time one was debunked, a stack of hundreds of other false claims was left.

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“There was an avalanche of all these fraud allegations that built up over several days,” Barr said in recorded testimony. “And it was like playing Whac-A-Mole, because one day something came up and the next day it was a different problem.”

Thursday’s hearing focused on another inaccurate assertion by Trump that former Vice President Mike Pence can and should take action against the certification of the election results. Though the hearing became an analysis of constitutional language at times, the committee revealed that many of Trump’s legal advisers — with the exception of John Eastman, who originally hatched the Pence plan — had determined long before Jan. 6 that Pence didn’t want the certification can really stop. and they made that clear to the President. Yet Trump continued to publicly suggest that Pence should act and that if he didn’t, Trump will be “very disappointed” in Pence.

The committee tried to argue that the continued insistence by Trump and his team that Pence had the power and responsibility to stop the vote made Pence a target: It shared video of the attack by rioters calling Pence a “traitor.” ‘ who had ‘betrayed the United States’ and said he ‘deserved to be burned’. They punctuated this with never-before-seen images of Pence in the safe underground location where Secret Service escorted him after the mob breached the Capitol.

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As hearings progress through the rest of the information the committee has found, lies will almost certainly continue to take center stage. The attack was the manifestation of the underlying disease of misinformation, and the hearings show just how sick the nation has become.

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