By Beatriz Pascual Macias
Washington, Jun 13 (EFE).- Then-President Donald Trump repeatedly ignored the advice of his advisers on election night and instead decided to listen to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who while drunk on that night recommended that Trump proclaim himself the winner of the presidential vote without waiting for the votes to actually be counted.
This is what several witnesses testified to in videotaped interviews that were played on Monday during the second public hearing of the legislative committee investigating the assault on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The panel of lawmakers recreated what occurred inside the White House on election night, Nov. 3, 2020, via the testimony of some of Trump’s closest advisers and family members, who portrayed the former president as someone who was detached from reality and furious about incoming election results showing that he was losing the vote in key states, and thus most probably the election, and who then decided to simply proclaim himself the winner.
The results of the 2020 presidential election took three days to be fully tabulated, but on election night Trump made an appearance before his supporters to claim, without any proof, that massive fraud had occurred and that “frankly” he had actually beaten Democratic presidential candidate – and now president – Joe Biden.
As the committee revealed, Trump made those remarks on the advice of Giuliani, who had urged him on several occasions to make a public appearance and declare victory because, he claimed, the Democrats were in the process of “stealing” the election.
Giuliani was “definitely intoxicated” that evening, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller told the committee, which showed his videotaped remarks during the hearing, which was broadcast live nationwide by many major news networks.
Miller went on to clarify that he did “not know (Giuliani’s) level of intoxication when he spoke to the president” that evening.
It was the president’s campaign chief, Bill Stepien, who also said in another taped interview that Giuliani had drunk too much alcohol on that night and explained that he (Stepien) and other several advisers asked Trump to wait for the vote count to be finished before making any public statement regarding the election.
On that night, it became clear – Stepien said – that Trump’s close advisers were divided into two camps: the “normal team” and the “crazy team” made up of those who were promoting conspiracy theories which, evidently, Trump was willing to believe.
Even members of Trump’s family asked him to listen to his “normal” advisers’ advice. One of his daughters, Ivanka, said in her testimony that she had no firm view about whether or not her father would win the election, but on that night she recalled that the ballots were still being counted, according to her video statement.
In addition, Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, said he told then-President Trump that he did not agree with the advice of Giuliani and that he would not follow the former New York mayor’s recommendations if he were the president, advice that his father-in-law ignored.
Then-US Attorney General William Barr painted an even more concerning portrait of Trump, saying that the president never displayed any “indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”
Barr described a meeting he had with Trump in December 2020 at which he thought that if the president really believed all the lies about voter fraud enabling Biden to win, Trump would have become someone who was “detached from reality” and with whom one could not possibly reason.
The committee showed several video excerpts of Barr’s testimony or interview before its members in which he colorfully describes Trump’s lies about election fraud, calling them “trash,” “complete nonsense” and “crazy stuff.”
Barr resigned as attorney general in mid-December 2020, almost a month before Trump left the White House, but up to now his disagreements with the president on these matters had not been made public.
By making public Barr’s remarks and those of Trump’s other advisers, the committee attempted to show the origins of the false claims of election fraud, claims that were thrown out dozens of times by various courts but which motivated a mob of Trump’s supporters to invade the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying the results of the election.
On that day, the House and Senate had been scheduled to certify Biden’s election victory in what after previous elections had been a mere legislative formality, but the actions of the violent mob forced Congress to interrupt their session for several hours.
Regarding Trump’s advisers, “These were his people. This is Trump World telling the president what he was saying was false,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif, a member of the investigatory panel, adding that the president and his advisers knew that his claims were false and yet they continued to spread those lies up until the mob attacked the Capitol after being incited to do so by the president himself.
Lofgren was tasked with directing the second public hearing by the investigative committee, during which a series of Trump advisers rejected any idea that there was any election-changing fraud.