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1/6 panel to hear Raffensperger, other Trump pushed

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FILE – Outgoing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, center, and his wife Tricia arrive for election night May 24, 2022, in Peachtree Corners, Ga. The House Select Committee is expected to hear testimony from Raffensperger on the extraordinary pressure he faced with former President Donald Trump to “find 11,780” votes that could topple the state to prevent Joe Biden’s election victory. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)

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House Committee 1/6 is expected to hear from the guardians of American democracy — election workers and local officials — who have pushed back against Donald Trump’s push to cancel the 2020 presidential election, sometimes despite chilling personal attacks.

Hearings investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol resume on Tuesday to probe Trump’s tireless efforts to undo Joe Biden’s victory in the most local way – relying on key state officials from the battlefield to outright reject ballots or submit alternative voters for the final count in Congress. The pressure was fueled by the defeated president’s false allegations of voter fraud, which the panel said led directly to the riot on Capitol Hill.

Embattled Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is set to testify about Trump’s phone call asking him to “find 11,780” votes that could topple the state to prevent Biden’s election victory.

Raffensperger, along with his deputy Gabe Sterling and Republican Arizona State House Speaker Rusty Bowers, are expected to be key witnesses, along with Wandrea “Shay” Moss, a former Georgia election worker who, along with her mother , said she faced such severe public harassment. allies of Trump, they felt unable to live a normal life.

“I’m appalled by what I saw,” Bowers said of the hearings in an interview Monday with The Associated Press after arriving in Washington. “I think it sheds light on something that we need to think big and take stock of ourselves. And hopefully that will sober us up.

Tuesday’s hearing, the panel’s fourth this month, stems from its year-long investigation into Trump’s unprecedented bid to stay in power, a sprawling ploy the Jan. 6 committee chairman likened to a “attempted coup”.

Tuesday’s focus will examine how Trump was repeatedly told his pressure campaign could potentially provoke violence against local officials and their families, but went ahead with it anyway, according to a select committee aide. And it will underscore that the fallout from Trump’s lies continues to this day, with poll workers facing continued public harassment and political challengers trying to get back to their jobs.

Although the committee cannot charge Trump with any crime, the Justice Department is closely monitoring the panel’s work. Trump’s actions in Georgia are also under investigation by the grand jury, with the district attorney expected to announce his findings this year.

“We will show in a hearing what the role of the president was in trying to get states to nominate alternative voter lists, how this scheme initially depended on the hope that the legislatures would reconvene and bless him” , said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. , told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

Schiff, who will lead much of Tuesday’s session, said the hearing will also delve into the “intimate role” that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows played in the plot to pressure governments. Georgia state legislators and election officials.

Raffensperger, Georgia’s top election official, rejected Trump’s request to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state – a request recorded in a phone call days before the attack on the January 6.

During the call, Trump repeatedly cited refuted fraud allegations and raised the prospect of a “criminal offense” if Georgian officials did not change the vote count. The state had counted its votes three times before certifying Biden’s victory by a margin of 11,779.

Raffensperger’s public testimony comes weeks after he appeared before a special grand jury in Georgia to investigate whether Trump and others unlawfully attempted to interfere in the state’s 2020 election, and after Raffensperger defeated a Trump-backed challenger in last month’s primary election.

Sterling, Raffensperger’s chief operating officer, has become a notable figure in Georgia’s lengthy post-election count and presidential ballot recount, with his regular updates often broadcast live in a divided nation. At one point, the soft-spoken Republican implored Americans to tone down the heated rhetoric.

“Death threats, physical threats, intimidation, it’s too much, it’s not good,” he said.

Bowers is expected to discuss the pressure he faced to overturn the Arizona results – demands from Trump advisers that the Republican head of state on Monday called “juvenile.”

In an interview with the AP after arriving in Washington ahead of the hearing, Bowers said he is expected to be asked about a call with Trump in which attorney Rudy Giuliani floated the idea of ​​replacing voters in the Arizona by those who would vote for Trump.

Bowers also revealed a second phone call with Trump in December 2020 which he said was mostly a casual conversation, although Trump also referenced their first conversation.

Moss, who had worked for the Fulton County Elections Department since 2012, and her mother, Ruby Freeman, a temp election worker, filed a defamation lawsuit in December 2021. Moss claimed that conservative outlet One America News Network and Giuliani had falsely spread allegations that she and her mother engaged in voter fraud during the election. The case against OAN has since been dismissed with a settlement.

Bowers and Moss, along with Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the panel, were among the recipients of this year’s John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage award “for their courage in protecting and defending democracy.” “.

The select committee also plans on Tuesday to unravel the elaborate “fake voters” scheme that was intended to halt Biden’s election victory. The plan sought to have representatives in no less than seven battlegrounds – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico – signing certificates falsely stating that Trump, not Biden, had won their states.

Conservative law professor John Eastman, Trump’s lawyer, pushed fake voters in the weeks after the election. Trump and Eastman summoned hundreds of voters in a January 2, 2021 call, encouraging them to send in alternate lists from their states where Trump’s team alleged fraud.

The bogus voters idea was designed to issue a challenge on Jan. 6, 2021 when Congress met in joint session, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding over what is usually a ceremonial role to accept state vote counts. . But the effort fell apart, as Pence refused repeated requests from Trump to simply stop certifying Biden’s victory – a power he believed he did not possess in his purely ceremonial role.

The committee says it will also show on Tuesday that it has gathered enough evidence through its more than 1,000 interviews and tens of thousands of documents to link the various efforts to overturn the election directly to Trump. At least 20 people linked to the fake voter scheme have been subpoenaed by the House panel.