Analysis: The Jan. 6 committee rejects election lies that keep some GOP candidates running

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It’s a dizzying reality unfolding in split-screen mode as the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot warns of the dangers of voter-rigging lies while election-deniers seek political nominations across the country conquer.

Trump card is said to have pounced on Secret Service agents after Ellipse’s speech. Hutchinson testified that a White House official, Tony Ornato, reported Trump’s yelling: “I’m the damn President. Now take me to the Capitol.” after his speech on January 6th. Trump then “reached forward of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel,” Hutchinson remembered studying.

She added that according to Ornato, Trump used his other hand to “lunge” with Robert Engel, who was the responsible secret service agent that day.

After the testimony, a Secret Service official familiar with the matter told CNN Ornato denied telling Hutchinson that the former president took the wheel or an agent at his command.

Intelligence told the committee through the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Legislative Affairs Tuesday afternoon that it would make the agents involved available to testify under oath, the official said. The agents are ready to declare under oath that the incident itself did not happen.

Apathy towards supporters with guns. “I heard the President say something like, ‘I don’t give a damn that they have guns. You’re not here to hurt me’.” Hutchinson said in pre-recorded testimony aired Tuesday. She said she heard Trump calling for metal detectors to be removed.

“Take away the shitty magazines. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here. Let people in, take away the shit magazines.”

The White House expected chaos. On January 2, 2021, Hutchinson said that Meadows “scrolled through his phone; I remember leaning against the door and saying, ‘I just had an interesting conversation with Rudy, Mark. Sounds like we’re going to the Capitol.’ He didn’t look up from his phone and said something along the lines of, ‘It’s busy Cass, but I don’t know, January 6th could be really, really bad.'”

She added: “That evening was the first moment I remember feeling scared and nervous about what might happen on January 6th.”

Days before the uprising, Rudy Giuliani previewed the plans. “Cass, are you looking forward to the 6th? It’s gonna be a great day. … We’re going to the Capitol. It is going to be great. The President will be there, it will look mighty.” Giuliani said, according to Hutchinson.

Now consider the 2022 primaries up to this point

In state after state, Republican candidates are advancing into the general election with campaigns anchored in electoral lies. Should enough of them win in November, the GOP will be in a far better position to attack the results of the 2024 presidential election if things don’t go their way. Even more problematic is that some of these Republicans are running as chief election administrators in their states, potentially giving them great control over the 2024 election.
Just this month, for example, Republican Jim Marchant, who said he had not confirmed Joe Biden’s victory in his state, won his party’s nomination for secretary of state in Nevada, a key presidential battleground.
In Texas, the state Republican Party passed a resolution rejecting Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. And in New Mexico, a Republican-led county commission earlier this month refused to confirm the results of the county’s June 7 primary, citing concerns about the Dominion voting machines and questions about a handful of individual votes in this month’s primary. (The majority of the commission has since voted to certify the results, ending a standoff with state officials after the Democratic Secretary of State sought an order from the state Supreme Court to compel certification.)
Last month, Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a leading voice spreading Trump’s lies about voter fraud, won the crowded Republican primary for governor.

The next critical measure of Republican tolerance for election denial came Tuesday night.

Accused Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, Colorado’s most prominent election denier, lost the GOP nomination in the state primary to become secretary of state. Pam Anderson, a former Jefferson County employee, will win the Republican nomination for CNN projects.

Anderson, who will face Democratic incumbent Jena Griswold in November, received endorsements from current and former elected officials, including three former foreign ministers.

Even in the illogical world of conscientious objection, Peters was a remarkable figure.

She and her top deputy were charged in March after local authorities investigated a security breach that led to the release of confidential voting machine logins and forensic images of their hard drives to a QAnon-affiliated Telegram channel in early August 2021.
In May, a district judge stripped Peters of her duties to oversee this year’s Mesa County election. She has pleaded not guilty.

Peters has also repeatedly allied himself with far-right figures who have peddled Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud. She appeared at the “Cyber ​​Symposium,” a gathering of election deniers last year that peddled a variety of debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, and in Colorado with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

Even if they don’t prevail, candidates like Peters – and there are many – only increase the pressure on the January 6th Committee to try to reach the same voters that the abstainers are targeting.

Can anything break the noise of election denial?

The task is high. But if there’s anything from the Jan. 6 hearings so far that might resonate with Trump loyalists who subscribe to his electoral lies, it might be testimonies like Hutchinson’s.

Far from being a Trump critic, Hutchinson worked in the White House in close proximity to the then-president as he challenged the 2020 election — something that lends her report unique credibility.

Trump attempted to take Hutchinson’s testimony as revenge on Tuesday, claiming she was “very upset and angry that I didn’t want her” to join his staffers at his Palm Beach residence after the presidency. But those around the former president had very different takeaways.

Read this report from CNN’s Gabby Orr and Pamela Brown. The former president’s staff were speechless during Tuesday’s hearing.
  • “This paints a picture of Trump completely out of control and losing all control of what they see for his base as someone in command at all times. This completely contradicts‘ said a Trump aide.
  • “This is basically a commercial for (Florida Gov.) Ron DeSantis 2024.” another Trump ally told CNN.
  • “Anyone who downplays Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access to the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump does [White House] worked or tried to discredit them because they are afraid of how scathing that statement is,” Former White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews tweeted.
Additionally, a GOP lawmaker told CNN that they weren’t able to watch the entire hearing, but that it “was enough to make me want to throw my lunch against the wall” — an indication of how Trump angrily threw his lunch against the wall after then-attorney general William Barr told the Associated Press in December 2020 that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, Hutchinson testified Tuesday.

Whether Republican voters will react in a similar way remains to be seen. But it’s hard to think of a more compelling rebuke of electoral denial than the one presented Tuesday by the January 6 committee.

This story was updated with additional coverage Tuesday.

CNN’s Josh Campbell, Gabby Orr, and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.

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