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Jan. 6 Panel to Hear Trump Campaign Boss in Bid to Make Case

·4 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager will appear as a witness Monday before the House committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol as it seeks to establish links between the rioters and the former president’s inner circle or even himself.

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A committee aide said Sunday night the panel will also seek to show that Trump’s political fund-raising apparatus used the stolen-election claim to mislead and raise millions of dollars from donors.

Bill Stepien, the campaign manager, is among five witnesses listed by the committee for its next meeting. On political talk shows Sunday, committee members said Trump knew that his claims of a stolen election were false but used them to incite the Jan. 6, 2021 mob anyway.

“This has been a clear focus of our investigative efforts,” Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat on the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attacks, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There are connections between these white nationalist groups and some in Trump’s orbit.”

What the Jan. 6 Committee Has Done, and What’s Next: QuickTake

Schiff said last Thursday’s prime-time committee hearing provided “a good sample” of the committee’s evidence, but “there’s a lot more testimony where that came from.”

The hearings resume Monday at 10 a.m. with a daytime session scheduled for Wednesday and possibly another day this week. Thursday’s hearing included excerpts from videotaped testimony by former Attorney General William Barr saying he told the president his claims of widespread voter fraud were “bull----” as well as Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump saying she believed Barr at the time.

The committee official, speaking Sunday night on the condition of not being identified, said the hearing will include testimony that government officials were directed to look for election fraud -- and how the effort to find evidence bore no fruit because it did not substantially exist. Trump was told that repeatedly, but he continued to repeat the claims anyway, the official said the panel will show.

The same official said the committee will also show how some of those individuals responsible for the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 were peddling those same claims in the run-up to the insurrection.

“I don’t want to go into the evidence that we haven’t put out yet,” Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican committee member, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Let me tell you my belief that I can say right now, the president absolutely tried to overthrow the will of the people and he tried to do it initially through misinformation.”

Trump Response

Trump maintains that the investigation is a politically motivated “witch hunt” designed to divert attention from what he calls the failures of the Biden administration.

Stepien supervised the Trump campaign’s shift “to an effort focused on ‘Stop the Steal’ messaging and related fundraising” after the 2020 election, committee chair Representative Bennie Thompson said in a Nov. 8 subpoena letter.

Also on Monday’s witness list are Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor, election attorney Benjamin Ginsberg, former Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt.

Byung J. Pak, who resigned as US Attorney on Jan. 4, 2021, will also appear. He has previously testified to senators and investigators on the Senate Judiciary Committee that he abruptly resigned after Justice Department officials told him Trump was preparing to fire him for not pushing harder on the claim that widespread voter fraud occurred in Georgia.

“So my perspective was that the President did not want to believe what I reported up,” a transcript of Pak’s three-hours of questioning dated Aug. 11, 2021 shows he testified. “So if the President thought that I was being ineffective, there was really no reason for me to continue in the role, although I disagree maybe in his ultimate conclusion on that.”

Criminal Charges

Proving that Trump knew his claims of a stolen election were false could establish grounds for a criminal case by showing he had criminal intent, Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who is also on the committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I think we can prove to any reasonable, open-minded person that Donald Trump absolutely knew, because he was surrounded by lawyers, including the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, telling him in no uncertain terms, in terms that Donald Trump could understand, this is B.S.,” Raskin said.

The Democrats also hinted at frustration that the Justice Department hasn’t been more aggressive in prosecuting those who encouraged the mob.

“There are certain actions, parts of these different lines of effort to overturn the election, that I don’t see evidence the Justice Department is investigating,” Schiff said.

But Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, told “Fox News Sunday” the committee has “a long way to go before they could establish” that the former president has criminal liability for the storming of the Capitol, even though Trump “has a responsibility there.”

(Updates with details of committee direction Monday beginning with second paragraph)

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