More witnesses testified Tuesday before a select committee of Congress about the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol.
The fourth day of hearings focused on the efforts of President Donald Trump and his campaign to pressure officials in key states to overturn the election results.
Witnesses testifying before the committee included Russell “Rusty” Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House and Republican Secretary of State for Georgia Brad Raffensperger who took the infamous call from Trump in which the president asked him to just “find” the 11,780 votes he needed to win.
Jeff Mandell, lead council and president of Law Forward, a nonpartisan and nonprofit law firm that’s suing to bring criminal charges against fake electors backing Trump in Wisconsin, says the committee has done a good job of explaining the illegal efforts to keep Trump in power.
“Whether people will watch and absorb, I don’t know,” said Mandell. “I think the committee wants to make this accessible to all Americans who are interested in learning more, but I also think that a primary audience for them is criminal prosecutors and folks around the country — or at least in these affected states — and the United States Department of Justice, trying to lay out to them just how clearly illegal a lot of this conduct was.”
Mandell said one of the key takeaways from the hearing was “just how ill-conceived” the effort to overturn the election result was.
“As people told the president he was wrong, he just tuned them out,” said Mandell. “And it got to a smaller and smaller coterie of people who were truly willing to do and say anything and didn’t care what the law was.”
The first witness to testify on Tuesday was Rusty Bowers, Republican speaker of the Arizona House who had voted for and supported President Trump.
Bowers became visibly emotional when explaining why he had refused to go along with Trump’s attempts to subvert American democracy, saying it was a tenet of his faith that the Constitution was divinely inspired.
“And so for me to do that (violate my oath of office) because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being. I will not do it,” said Bowers.
Bowers also testified that former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted to him that the campaign had no evidence of election fraud.
He said he recalled Giuliani telling him “We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.”
Brad Raffensperger drew the ire of Trump and his supporters when he refused the president’s request to “find” the votes he needed to prevail in Georgia.
He explained why he refused to succumb to that pressure.
“I think sometimes moments require you to just take your shots,” said Raffensperger. “We just followed the law, and we followed the Constitution and at the end of the day President Trump came up short.”
All of the witnesses that testified said they and their families had been subjected to abuse and death threats from Trump supporters.
Perhaps the most emotional testimony came from Wandrea Arshaye “Shaye” Moss, a Georgia election worker accused along with her mother of producing illegal votes for then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Moss recalled how her grandmother called her in a panic after Trump supporters forced their way into her home attempting to find Moss and her mother, who was also an election worker.
“They just started pushing their way through claiming that they were coming in to make a citizen’s arrest,” said Moss.
Mandell said her testimony and that of the other witnesses who had also been deluged with abuse and death threats was likely to have impacted viewers.
“I think that the testimony is emotionally compelling, and I think it’s designed to be,” said Mandell. “I think that part of what the committee is trying to show is the human stakes of all of this and that this was not just a bureaucratic dispute about how to undertake some government actions. This was visceral.”