Former President Donald Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien testifies Monday ahead of the House Committee’s second hearing on Jan. 6 this month, which will focus on Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
Representatives Committee aides said the hearing would look at how Trump picked up false allegations of cheating in the 2020 election and how he decided to declare victory in the hours after the election, though he was told the numbers didn’t back it up.
Aides said the hearing would show how Trump’s team pursued legal challenges in court and lost those cases, and that Trump then chose to ignore the will of the courts and continued trying to overturn the election.
The hearing will also seek to connect Trump’s lies about the election to the Jan. 6, 2021 US Capitol violence, aides said, including the way rioters repeated the former president’s baseless claims that the election was stolen.
Stepien will testify alongside former Fox digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt, whose decision to call Arizona for Joe Biden on election night infuriated the Trump campaign – and conservative Fox anchors.
A second group of witnesses testifying Monday includes former US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia BJay Pak, who was pressured into accepting Trump’s fraud allegations and has resigned; former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, who debunked false allegations of voter fraud in Philadelphia; and Conservative Election Attorney Ben Ginsberg, who is expected to speak about the failed court cases being pursued by Trump’s team.
Stepien is perhaps the most intriguing witness as a key member of Trump’s team during the 2020 campaign. He appears under subpoena, he told CNN on Sunday, and aides declined to say whether they expect him to be a cooperative witness.
The hearing is the second of seven the January 6 Committee has scheduled for this month as it sets out a case that puts Trump at the center of efforts to end the 2020 election and the violence that unfolded on January 6 in the Capitol unfolded to overthrow.
Monday’s hearing is focused on voter fraud, and the committee is trying to show the public that Trump’s claims that the 2020 election were stolen — those made by a significant constituency of Republicans, including many GOP candidates turning around this year apply for office, have been welcomed – are false.
“We will reveal information about how the former President’s political apparatus used these lies about voter fraud to raise funds that raised hundreds of millions of dollars between Election Day 2020 and Jan. 6,” said an aide.
Not only has Trump continued to baselessly claim that he won the 2020 election, but the former president has used voter fraud as a litmus test while endorsing Republican candidates this year. He’s also focused on defeating Republicans who have refuted his false claims — including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves as vice chair of the January 6 committee.
Stepien advises Trump-backed Harriett Hageman’s campaign to challenge Cheney in elementary school. According to poll records, Stepien’s firm has received more than $190,000 from Hageman’s campaign for strategy and fundraising consulting and video production this election cycle.
Schmidt and Pak were both able to investigate allegations of fraud after the 2020 election, and neither uncovered evidence of significant fraud.
Pak resigned after learning that Trump was considering sacking him in early January, around the same time Trump was urging Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, to “find” enough votes for Trump to vote to win. Pak will appear voluntarily before the House Selection Committee on Monday after receiving a letter of invitation. He is not testifying under a subpoena, his attorney Edward Kang told CNN.
Stepien’s role at the hearing – and what he has to say about voter fraud – could be among Monday’s most notable moments. But aides said they also plan to play more videos of behind-closed-door interviews they’ve conducted with many in Trump’s orbit.
Those videos proved crucial to the committee’s opening hearing on Thursday, which previewed how the panel was told many of those close to Trump knew his allegations of voter fraud were false.
The panel showed videos of behind-closed-door testimonies by former Attorney General William Barr, in which he said the cheating allegations were “bullshit,” and by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who said she respects Barr and “accepts what he said” — the there was no significant voter fraud.
The Trump campaign’s top data expert told the president “in fairly blunt terms that he was going to lose,” Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller told the committee in testimony delivered during last week’s hearing.
The deposition videos are just snippets of lengthy interviews, and Miller said Thursday he was taken out of context. But Stepien’s appearance shows that the January 6 committee will not rely solely on video presentations at this month’s hearings.
The first hearing featured two witnesses — a Capitol Police officer and a documentary filmmaker who was with extremist groups on January 6 — but their testimony came after a lengthy presentation by committee chairs Benny Thompson and Cheney, who summarized the panel’s findings, as well as after a long video shows new footage of the violent attack on the Capitol.
Aides said Monday’s hearing would be a return to a more traditional congressional hearing, where the rest of the committee would ask questions and present two groups of witnesses.
While Thompson will chair the hearings, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, will play a key role in Monday’s hearing focused on voter fraud, aides said.
It’s a pattern likely to continue among the rest of the committee members in future hearings examining how Trump and his allies have attempted to pressure the Justice Department, the state legislature and his former Vice President Mike Pence to help overturn the election, as well as what the committee says is Trump’s role in instigating the Capitol riot and his failure to respond as the violence unfolded.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misrepresented Chris Stirewalt’s previous position at Fox News. He was an editor for digital politics.
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