Jan 6 hearings live updates: panel focuses on Trump’s pressure campaign on election officials | January 6 hearings

Per Bower’s retelling, the pressure campaign against him went on for some time, and included calls from those outside the White House.

Andy Biggs, a Republican House representative from Arizona, asked Bowers to support decertifying the Biden electors. “I wouldn’t,” the Arizona speaker said he replied.

“We have no legal pathway, both in state law nor to my knowledge in federal law for us to execute such a request,” Bowers said of his opposition to the demands from Trump’s team, which included reconvening Arizona lawmakers to either reject Biden’s electors or send two lists of electors to Congress. “And I am not allowed to walk or act beyond my authority.”

Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives is now testifying. He’s detailing a phone call from Trump and Giuliani following the 2020 election in which he was pressured to act to change the state’s vote in the electoral college from Biden to Trump.

The two men claimed that the state’s election was tainted by fraud, to which Bowers demanded evidence.

“Did you ever receive from him that evidence, either during the call, after the call or to this day?” asked Adam Schiff, the Democratic House representative leading the questioning.

“Never,” replied Bowers. Giuliani then came on the call to demand that Bowers “would allow an official committee at the capitol so that they can hear this evidence, and that we can take action thereafter.”

“I refused. I said up to that time that the circus, I called it circus, had been brewing with lots of demonstrations, both in the counting center (and) at the capitol,” Bowers said. “And I didn’t want to have that in the House.”

“Look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath,” Bowers said to their demands that he act to change the state’s vote. “You’re asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath.”

The committee is airing a video detailing a multi-pronged effort to convince, cajole and intimidate state officials into acting in Trump’s favor in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

There were phone calls from Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, both lawyers for Trump, to state lawmakers, pushing them to act to give Trump their state’s electoral votes. Trump also publicly posted the contact details of lawmakers in crucial states.

The efforts had a tangible effect, the committee is showing. “All of my personal information was doxed online. It was my personal email, my personal cell phone, my home phone number. In fact, we had to disconnect our home for about three days because it would rain all hours of the night would fill up with messages,” Bryan Cutler, the Republican speaker of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives told the committee.

The video ends with shots of protests by Trump supporters, some of which are armed or making threats of violence against lawmakers, or both.

The commitee is expected to hold at least six public hearings.
The commitee is expected to hold at least six public hearings. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

The committee is now showing video of Trump supporters gathered outside Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s house at night.

“Stop the steal!” the video shows them chanting, with one voicing calling Benson a “threat to democracy.”

“My stomach sunk,” Benson told the committee. “Are they coming with guns? Are they going to attack my house?… That was the scariest moment just not knowing what was gonna happen.”

“Don’t be distracted by politics. This is serious,” Liz Cheney, the January 6 committee’s top Republican member, said in an appeal against partisan politics as the hearing began.

“We cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence,” she added.

Liz Cheney on Tuesday.
Liz Cheney on Tuesday. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Yet Cheney herself may not be able to escape the partisan implications of her strident denunciation of Trump and his actions around January 6. She’s been booted from her state’s Republican party and is facing a vigorous primary challenge.

January 6 committee begins fourth hearing

The House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has begun its fourth hearing, focusing on Trump’s efforts to convince state officials to swing the results of the 2020 election in his favor.

Among those testifying today will be:

Interim summary

It’s been a busy day so far in US politics, building to this afternoon’s latest hearing by the House January 6 committee investigating the insurrection in 2021 and events surrounding Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his election defeat (and potentially to corrupt future election results, as an alleged “clear and present” danger to American democracy).

We’ll have live coverage of the hearing, beginning at the top of the hour.

Here’s where things stand:

  • South Dakota state attorney general Jason Ravnsborg lied to investigators and abused the power of his office after he struck and killed a pedestrian, prosecutors argued earlier today at the opening of an impeachment trial that could remove him from office.
  • Documentary film maker Alex Holder is cooperating with a subpoena by the House select committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and related events. He filmed interviews with Trump and family.
  • Congress is inching towards votes on a bipartisan gun control compromise reached between Republicans and Democrats, spurred on by the Uvalde school massacre as well as the racist killings at a grocery store in Buffalo.
  • The US Supreme Court has struck down a state-funded program in Maine that covers the costs of some private schools — but only those that are nonsectarian.

For all the developments in the Russian invasion of Ukraine as they happen, including news on the visit by US attorney general Merrick Garland, the fate of American citizens fighting on Ukraine’s side, and what’s happening on the ground, do follow our global live blog on the war, here.

Joanna Walters

Joanna Walters

South Dakota state attorney general Jason Ravnsborg lied to investigators and abused the power of his office after he struck and killed a pedestrian, prosecutors argued earlier today at the opening of an impeachment trial that could remove him from office, the Associated Press reports.

Ravnsborg’s attorneys countered that such an action would improperly undo the will of voters for what he has maintained was an accident.

Ravnsborg, a Republican who only recently announced he wouldn’t seek a second term, faces two charges in the state’s first-ever impeachment trial over his actions in following a 2020 crash that led criminal investigators, some lawmakers and the victim’s family to question his truthfulness.

Senators may also vote on whether Ravnsborg should be barred from holding future office.

Either way, the outcome of a proceeding expected to take two days will close a chapter that has roiled state politics, pitting Republican governor Kristi Noem against Ravnsborg and some in her own party who objected to her aggressive pursuit of his removal.

He absolutely saw the man that he struck in the moments after,” said Alexis Tracy, the Clay County state’s attorney who is leading the prosecution.

Prosecutors also told senators that Ravnsborg had used his title “to set the tone and gain influence” in the aftermath of the crash, even as he allegedly made “misstatements and outright lies” to the crash investigators.

The prosecution played a montage of audio clips of Ravnsborg referring to himself as the attorney general.

Ravnsborg has maintained that he did nothing wrong and cast the impeachment trial as a chance to clear himself.

He resolved the criminal case last year by pleading no contest to a pair of traffic misdemeanors, including making an illegal lane change and using a phone while driving, and was fined by a judge.

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg during opening remarks by the defense at his impeachment trial today in Pierre.
South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg during opening remarks by the defense at his impeachment trial today in Pierre. Photograph: Erin Woodiel/AP

Alex Holder, a documentary film-maker who Politico reported has been subpoenaed by the January 6 committee for his interviews with Trump and his inner circle, responded to the news:

Robert Costa of CBS News has some details of what Holder may have captured:

Some reporting on the Alex Holder Trump doc, per convos with 3 people this morning who worked on Trump 2020…

1-They recall a film crew coming to HQ at least once. They also remember it being odd because campaign’s legal team seemed surprised, as if it was an unvetted project.

— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 21, 2022

2-The campaign’s lawyers were like, “Huh, what is this? What’s going on today?” Saw it as another side project from the family/Trump confidants.

— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 21, 2022

3-“This was a family thing,” one of the campaign staffers told @CBSNews.

— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 21, 2022

NEWS: Per a person familiar with the project, ALEX HOLDER has made a 3-part series on Trump. Spent Sept. 2020-Jan. 2021 with the Trump family and campaign, filming. Was on Cap grounds, not WH day of Jan. 6. He had full editorial control, was not paid. Paid for crew, hotels, etc.

— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 21, 2022

Ramon Antonio Vargas

Stephen Colbert has spoken out following the Thursday evening arrests of several of his crew members near the US Capitol, as Ramon Antonio Vargas reports:

Talkshow host Stephen Colbert on Monday called the recent arrests of seven staffers near the US Capitol “unpleasant” but said both his employees and the police officers who detained them “were just doing their job”.

“Everyone was very professional,” Colbert added during the monologue of his show Monday, four days after the arrests. “Everyone was very calm.”

The Late Show host also bristled at comparisons – even tongue-in-cheek ones – between the deadly January 6 attack at the Capitol and Thursday night’s detentions, including that of the voice behind the puppet character Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

“This was first-degree puppetry,” Colbert joked, before striking a more serious tone and adding: “Drawing any equivalence between rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral ballots and a cigar-chomping toy dog is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died and trivializes the service and the courage the Capitol police showed on that terrible day.”

Spurred on by the Uvalde massacre as well as the killings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, Congress is inching towards votes on a bipartisan gun control compromise reached between Republicans and Democrats.

Senators announced an agreement on the legislation last week, but they need to write the bill before it can be put up for a vote. John Cornyn, the Texas senator who is the lead Republican in the talks, says the bill’s text should be released soon.

CORNYN tells me there will be text “hopefully shortly.” Bill is hung up over “details.” Asked about getting booed in TX over the weekend: he’s “all for people exercising their first amendment rights” but the reaction doesn’t change how he’s negotiating the gun reform bill. pic.twitter.com/x0y0RDB4C1

— Allison Pecorin (@AllisonMPecorin) June 21, 2022

While the measure lacks many of the provisions they believe are necessary to stop future mass shootings, Democrats are expected to back the compromise, viewing it as better than nothing. The proposal is also seen as likely to receive 10 votes from Republicans, who are typically hostile to gun control legislation. Their support is necessary to overcome a filibuster from others in their party, and Cornyn himself faced the wrath of some of his fellow Texas Republicans last week for working on the compromise.

There’s been another alarming revelation about the botched police response to the Uvalde school shooting last month.

The director of Texas’s Department of Public Safety told a state Senate committee that police officers could have stopped the shooting three minutes after it began, and called their response an “abject failure,” according to the Associated Press:

Police officers with rifles instead stood and waited in a school hallway for nearly an hour while the gunman carried out the May 24 attack that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, testified at a state Senate hearing on the police handling of the tragedy.

Delays in the law enforcement response have been the focus of federal, state and local investigations of the mass shooting.

McCraw told the Senate committee that Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief, decided to put the lives of officers ahead of the lives of children.

The public safety chief began outlining for the committee a series of missed opportunities.

Breaking along ideological lines, the supreme court has struck down a state-funded program in Maine that covers the costs of some private schools — but only those that are nonsectarian.

The decision will allow people in the state to use public money to pay for religious schooling, as Reuter’s Lawrence Hurley explains:

BREAKING: Supreme Court backs public money for religious schools in Maine case

— Lawrence Hurley (@lawrencehurley) June 21, 2022

Chief Justice Roberts: “… a neutral benefit program in which public funds flow to religious organizations
through the independent choices of private benefit recipients does not offend the Establishment Clause”

— Lawrence Hurley (@lawrencehurley) June 21, 2022

Case is on whether people can use public money for religious schools from funding that Maine provides for people to pay for tuition at private high school in some parts of the state that lack public high schools. Court says “yes” on 6-3 vote

— Lawrence Hurley (@lawrencehurley) June 21, 2022

The court’s conservative justices all supported the ruling, while its three liberals Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer dissented.

The supreme court has ended its release of decisions today with a ruling on a 233-year old statute regarding federal court orders:

In its final opinion of the day, SCOTUS rules on the scope of the All Writs Act, a 233-year-old statute that gives federal courts broad power to issue orders. The case involved an Ohio death-row prisoner trying to develop new evidence to challenge his conviction and sentence.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 21, 2022

The supreme court has thus far announced three decisions, none of which deal with abortion, gun rights, environmental regulation or the other contentious topics they are expected to rule on before the current term ends.

Here’s a rundown of what they’ve done so far, from SCOTUSblog:

In a technical dispute about health insurance reimbursements for kidney dialysis, the Supreme Court sides with a health insurer, rejecting a claim from DaVita Inc. (one of the nation’s largest providers of dialysis) that the insurer’s low reimbursement rates violated federal law.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 21, 2022

In the second (but not final) opinion of the day, the Supreme Court narrows the definition of “crime of violence” in a federal criminal statute. The court agrees with a criminal defendant that the definition excludes attempted robbery under the Hobbs Act.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 21, 2022

The Supreme Court strikes down a Washington law that made it easier for certain workers to get workers’ comp from the federal government if they became sick while cleaning up a decommissioned nuclear site. SCOTUS says the law violates the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 21, 2022

Attorney General Merrick Garland has made a surprise visit to Ukraine, expressing support for the country’s effort to prosecute the perpetrators of war crimes following Russia’s invasion.

Here he is along with Ukraine’s prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova:

In unannounced trip, Attorney General Merrick Garland Visits Ukraine, Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Help Identify, Apprehend, and Prosecute Individuals Involved in War Crimes and Atrocities pic.twitter.com/GzHPGqOUYV

— Anthony Coley (@AnthonyColeyDOJ) June 21, 2022

The United States has already formally accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, and the country has started trying Russian soldiers for alleged abuses.

When it begins announcing decisions in a few minutes, the supreme court could release an opinion that sharply curtails abortion rights nationwide, and Democratic leaders are trying to make the most of what they hope many of their voters would see as a bad situation.

As Politico reports, the party is making plans to focus voters’ attention on the ruling’s implications, and away from the issues that have swamped Biden’s approval ratings in recent months, such as gas prices and inflation overall.

From their article:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s preparations, previewed by a committee official, are a window into the Democratic Party’s broader efforts to capitalize — in the middle of a brutal-looking midterm election climate — on the Supreme Court’s likely reversal of Roe v. Wade, which would change a half-century of precedent and let states decide the legality of abortion.

Support for Roe is at an all-time high with voters, and the Democrats’ strategy is aimed at firing up a flagging Democratic base, while also trying to compete for some of the college-educated, female, suburban swing voters who backed them during the Trump era. The question, though, is how to make abortion a top issue for voters in November while facing a range of challenges, especially gas prices averaging $5 a gallon and inflation ticking up.

“We’re not going to be able to keep it in the national news, but we’re going to put a lot of money on paid advertising — on TV, on digital ads, on mail, on radio — and in key places across the country, and that’s how this issue will matter,” said Stephanie Schriock, former president of EMILY’s List, a Democratic pro-abortion-rights group. “And in some states, it will be in the news every day, because state legislatures are going to push this issue further and further to the right with outright bans.”

Hugo Lowell

What else can you expect from the January 6 committee? The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell has taken a closer look at how the House lawmakers will present their witnesses and evidence at today’s hearing:

The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack is expected to show at its fourth hearing on Tuesday that Donald Trump and top advisers coordinated the scheme to send fake slates of electors as part of an effort to return him to the White House.

The panel is expected to also examine Trump’s campaign to pressure top officials in seven crucial battleground states to corruptly reverse his defeat to Joe Biden in the weeks and months after the 2020 election.

At the afternoon hearing, the select committee is expected to focus heavily on the fake electors scheme, which has played a large part in its nearly year-long investigation into Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the election at the state level.

In its hearings thus far, the January 6 committee has focused on the circumstances leading up to the attack in Washington, particularly Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen.

Viewers will be taken farther afield in today’s hearing, which will feature testimony from state officials about how Trump pushed them to interfere with their election results for his benefit.

Among its guests will be Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who last month fended off a Trump-backed attempt to oust him from office. He will be joined by Arizona House speaker Rusty Bowers and Gabriel Sterling, a top official in the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

The hearing will also feature an appearance by Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a Georgia poll worker who, along with her mother, was accused of rigging the vote in a number of conspiracies promoted by Trump supporters. She is now suing Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, rightwing One America News Network and several of its senior executives for defamation, saying the claims put them in physical danger.

Expect to hear more about just what she endured at the hearing today.

January 6 committee to investigate pressure campaign on state officials as search for evidence continues

Good morning, US politics live blog readers. At 1pm eastern time, the January 6 committee will be holding its fourth hearing into last year’s attack on the Capitol, with this session focusing on former president Donald Trump’s pressure campaign on state officials to throw the 2020 election in his direction. The committee is meanwhile continuing its search for evidence. Politico reports that it has subpoenaed a documentary film-maker who had access to Trump’s inner circle around the time of the insurrection.

Here’s what else to expect today:

  • Democrats and Republicans in Congress are scrambling to find agreement on gun control legislation and an innovation bill as time runs out to pass the legislation before an upcoming two-week recess.
  • The supreme court will release another batch of opinions at 10 am eastern time. Among these could be their opinions on closely watched cases dealing with abortion, gun rights, environmental regulation and other controversial issues.
  • Voters will head to the polls (or cast mail-in ballots) in Virginia and Washington DC, while run-off elections are being held in Alabama and Georgia.
  • President Joe Biden announced he will appoint Marilynn Malerba as treasurer of the United States. She is the chief of the Mohegan Tribe and would be the first Native American in the position that oversees the US Mint, among other responsibilities.

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