How are this week's Jan. 6 hearings going so far?
The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web
The Jan. 6 committee's hearing on Tuesday focused on former President Donald Trump and his attempts to pressure state and local officials into overturning the 2020 election results. The evidence presented included Trump's Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), during which Trump asked him to "find 11,780 votes" in his favor. There was also compelling testimony from several witnesses, including Rusty Bowers, Arizona's Republican House Speaker who was asked by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to look into removing President Biden's electors in his state, and Shaye Moss, a Georgia elections worker who was falsely accused of engaging in voter fraud.
Bowers testified that during his first conversation with Trump and Giuliani after the 2020 election, they asked him to convene the Arizona legislature to investigate their claims of voter fraud, with the intention of replacing the state's chosen electors with a group that would favor Trump. Bowers said he asked multiple times for evidence showing that fraud occurred, and while Giuliani said he would produce some, he never did. "I said, 'Look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath,'" Bowers testified. Later, during an in-person meeting with Giuliani, Bowers said the lawyer told him, "We've got lots of theories — we just don't have the evidence." Bowers stood firm, refusing to go along with the plan, and soon, Trump supporters began driving around his neighborhood, with one playing a recording that called him a pedophile; at one point, Bowers said, a man showed up with a gun and began threatening his neighbor. Bowers' daughter, Kacey, was gravely ill at the time, and could hear the fracas from inside her father's home; she died in late January 2021.
The Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin praised Bowers, calling his testimony "stunning" and "amazing." He is a "patriot," she tweeted, lamenting that the GOP "could be the part of Bowers, not Trump/Eastman. That they choose the latter reveals a profound moral and intellectual collapse." Political analyst Jeff Greenfield was also impressed by Bowers, tweeting that as a "low-key, matter-of-fact narrator, he may be the single most compelling congressional witness I have ever seen." The Nation's Elie Mystal doesn't think that this is a reason to forget about Bowers' political opinions and the policies he has supported, tweeting, "Remember that Rusty Bowers, the Arizona man who almost cried about his constitutional duties, has helped to pass a boatload of voter suppression bills targeting Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans in his state. You know, in case anybody cares about such things."
Powerful testimony resonates
When it was Moss' turn to testify, she discussed what it was like for Giuliani to publicly accuse her and her mother, Ruby Freeman, of being involved in voter fraud. Both women were poll workers in Georgia's Fulton County, and Giuliani falsely claimed before a Georgia state Senate committee that the women smuggled in suitcases with fake ballots for Biden, which they then scanned multiple times. He bizarrely added that he saw video of the women exchanging USB memory sticks "as if they're vials of cocaine." Trump called Freeman a "professional vote scammer" and "hustler."
None of this was true, Moss testified, adding that almost immediately after a recording of Giuliani's statement was made public, she began receiving threats, many of them racist, "wishing death upon me, telling me I'll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, 'Be glad it's 2020 and not 1920." After people showed up at her grandmother's house, saying they were looking for Moss in order to conduct a citizen's arrest, she had to go into hiding. "It's turned my life upside down," Moss said. "It's affected my life in a major way — in every way — all because of lies."
Dr. Jason Johnson, a professor at Morgan State University and MSNBC contributor, tweeted his outrage over the way Moss and Freeman, who are Black, were treated. "Protesters show up outside SCOTUS homes and suddenly Congress gives them high priced security," he said. "A 70-year-old Black poll worker in Georgia gets death threats from MAGA Trumpers and she's on the run for two months and the FBI basically says figure it out. This is why people are angry."
Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council official who once testified about Trump pushing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden ahead of the 2020 election, shared his support of Moss and Freeman, comparing their situations. "Lady Ruby and Shaye, I know what it's like to have the president of the United States attack me," he tweeted. "Stay strong. We are better than him and we will prevail. Much love!" He later added that the women are"public servants and this is public service!"
Republican witnesses stay in the spotlight
The Jan. 6 committee has now held four public hearings in the last few weeks, and each time, most of the in-person witnesses have been Republicans. The three GOP officials who testified on Tuesday — Bowers, Raffensperger, and Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer in the Georgia Secretary of State's office — are all avowed conservatives who supported Trump's re-election in 2020. CNN described their testimony as "damning," and one way to push back against Republicans like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) who have accused the committee of being unfairly partisan. There are two Republicans on the committee, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.); he tweeted that after hearing the day's witnesses testify, he was reminded "what honorable people look like. The first three reminded me of the GOP I joined. Shaye Moss and her mother, I mean .... America at its best. [McCarthy] probably feels ashamed today."