This week, the select committee investigating the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, held two hearings. They focused on former President Donald Trump’s embrace of stolen-election lies and the pressure on former Vice President Mike Pence to go along with the illegal scheme of throwing out valid electoral votes.
More on the hearings and the latest revelations about the plot to overturn the 2020 election is below. But eyes are also on Wisconsin, where a judge issued a written decision holding the State Assembly’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in contempt of court in our lawsuit for records from its sham election investigation.
Wisconsin Court Decision
On Wednesday, following last week’s hearing in which Michael Gableman refused to answer questions and angrily criticized Judge Frank Remington, Remington issued his written decision holding OSC in contempt.
- Among the conditions the court outlined for purging the contempt were requirements that Gableman submit evidence of efforts to search for records responsive to American Oversight’s requests, including records that are missing or were deleted, and to provide reasons for withholding any records.
- The order also fines OSC $2,000 a day until it complies, and instructs the clerk of courts to refer Gableman to Wisconsin’s Office of Lawyer Regulation for his “unprofessional conduct” during the hearing.
Jan. 6 Hearings
Monday’s select committee hearing included testimony from people in Trump’s inner circle — members of what campaign manager Bill Stepien called “Team Normal” — who knew Trump had lost a fair election, and had repeatedly told him the truth.
- The select committee also discussed Trump’s fundraising actions in the weeks leading up to the riot, with $250 million being raised, including for an “Official Election Defense Fund” that did not technically exist.
Witnesses at the hearing on Thursday afternoon were J. Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who testified that the scheme for Pence to reject the electoral votes was “constitutional mischief,” and Greg Jacob, who was a counsel to Pence and detailed conversations he had with Trump-allied lawyer John Eastman.
- Eastman is a central figure in that scheme, and evidence presented by the committee suggested that Eastman knew his legal theories regarding Pence’s ability to overturn the election results were lacking in merit. Eastman invoked the Fifth Amendment in declining to answer the committee’s questions, and an email to Rudy Giuliani showed Eastman asking to be put “on the pardon list.”
- Photos and testimony also pieced together events in the Oval Office on the morning of Jan. 6, when Trump called Pence in a conversation that witnesses said grew heated, and footage from the days leading up to the riot and from the attack itself illustrated the intense and often threatening pressure campaign on the former vice president.
- Luttig said that the plot for Pence to intervene “was the centerpiece of the plan to overturn the 2020 election.” And integral to that plot were the fake electoral certificates submitted by Trump supporters in seven states — here’s more on that scheme.
The next hearing will be Tuesday, June 21. Meanwhile, new details about the effort to subvert the 2020 vote have continued to come out:
- Sources from the select committee told the Washington Post that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, corresponded with Eastman, showing “that Thomas’ efforts to overturn the election were more extensive than previously known.”
- After Rep. Bennie Thompson said that the committee would seek an interview with her, Thomas told the Daily Caller that she would agree to testify.
- The New York Times reported that in an email sent to Trump allies on Dec. 24, 2020, Eastman claimed he had insight into a “heated fight” among Supreme Court justices regarding whether to hear arguments pertaining to Trump’s election-reversal attempts.
- Trump-allied lawyer Kenneth Chesebro — who in the weeks after the election authored memos outlining the fake-electors plan — replied that the chances of the justices acting would be “more favorable” if they were to “fear that there will be ‘wild’ chaos on Jan. 6.”
- The Washington Post reported on new details it had obtained about an Oval Office meeting three days before the insurrection, in which top Justice Department officials threatened to resign should Trump follow through with a plan to install loyalist Jeffrey Clark as the new attorney general.
The Continuing Consequences of the Big Lie
This week, the commissioners of Otero County, N.M., refused to certify the results of the June 7 primary election, citing discredited concerns about Dominion voting machines. The New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the county to approve the vote totals, but the incident is a glaring reminder of the dangers conspiracy theories and lies pose for our democracy ahead of the 2024 election.
- Otero is the same county that earlier this year voted to initiate an audit of its 2020 election results, hiring a firm that had also been involved in the Arizona Senate’s sham election “audit.”
- The Arizona Senate released more documents that were previously held by lead “audit” contractor Cyber Ninjas; the latest records reveal new details about the firm’s split from subcontractor Wake TSI and about the role various partisan fundraisers played in the review.
- The Washington Post took a look at the more than 100 Republican primary winners who support Trump’s lies about voter fraud. Notably, those who embrace the Big Lie, as the Associated Press points out, do not question their own election wins.
The Coronavirus Pandemic
The FDA authorized both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children under 5 Friday, and shots could be available by early next week. The Pfizer vaccine, for children as old as 4, is expected to require three doses, while Moderna’s shot for kids as old as 5 will require two.
- Polls show that a large share of parents plan to “wait and see” before getting their youngest children vaccinated, suggesting that uptake may increase gradually or require a vaccine campaign from the government.
- The only state that did not pre-order doses of the vaccine for young children is Florida, where the state health department is led by Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, a vocal vaccine “skeptic.”
Official case counts have begun to decline in many states, though experts warn of low levels of testing. Hospitalizations are still exceeding a daily average of 29,000, and deaths remain at about 300.
- Anthony Fauci, senior adviser to the president and leading pandemic expert, tested positive for Covid-19 this week.
- As federal funding disappears, state and local health departments are concerned about their ability to acquire tests, treatments, and vaccines this fall and winter.
- The Columbia Journalism Review released a timeline documenting the past two years of media response to Covid-19, highlighting the challenge of combating misinformation and the links between the pandemic and protests against racist policing as well as the Big Lie.
Other Stories We’re Following
The Jan. 6 Attack
- Nine-page plan to occupy congressional buildings on January 6, 2021, released in court filing (CNN)
- Jan. 6 committee has footage that challenges Capitol Police findings over alleged role of GOP congressman (CNN)
- Loudermilk tour group taking basement photos ‘raises concerns’ for Jan. 6 panel (Politico)
- Publix heiress paid Kimberly Guilfoyle’s $60,000 speaking fee on Jan. 6 (Washington Post)
The Big Lie
- Major water cutbacks loom as shrinking Colorado River nears ‘moment of reckoning’ (Los Angeles Times)
- ICE searched LexisNexis database over 1 million times in just seven months (Intercept)
- Senators move to ban foreign FOIA requests (Axios)
- Biden signs measure to protect LGBTQ rights, citing ‘hateful attacks’ (New York Times)
- Dangerously hot weather descends on 60 million Americans (New York Times)
- EPA warns that even tiny amounts of chemicals found in drinking water pose risks (NPR)
In the States
- Ron DeSantis attempts to take over the GOP-led Florida Senate (Politico)
- Texas agencies resist releasing public records that could help clarify response to Uvalde school shooting (Texas Tribune)
- After being out of the country amid major flooding, Montana governor returning to state ‘as quickly as possible’ (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)
- Some clinics aren’t waiting for Roe decision to stop abortions (New York Times)
- After Yellowstone, floodwaters menace Montana’s largest city (Associated Press)
- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs armed teacher training bill (Columbus Dispatch)