The House Jan. 6 Committee continued public hearings for the second day on Monday. This time they focused on how former President Trump pushed the “Big Lie,” which they say conned millions of his supporters into giving him donations and eventually helped fuel the insurrection.
The committee heard from nearly a dozen former Trump aides, and honestly, having to reconnect with some of The Trump Administration of 2020 has felt like deciding to go to my high school reunion, only to be reunited with a whole cast of characters I’d blessedly forgotten about who once made me want to rip my hair out.
“After the election, he [Trump] didn’t seem to be listening,” Bill Barr said in recorded testimony, calling his claims of voter fraud “rubbish.” You remember Barr, the unlovable former attorney general and shameless suck-up to Trump who compared COVID lockdowns to slavery. (Of course, he’s said thousands of other very terrible things, this take is just one of his most recent.) He was apparently dismayed when he tried to tell Trump he lost the election, but Trump wouldn’t believe him. “I was somewhat demoralized, because I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” Barr said of Trump’s declarations that voting machines were rigged and mail-in ballots were wrong.
Next was testimony that revealed Rudy Giuliani was reportedly drunk on election night. Former senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said that the mayor was “definitely intoxicated” during a conversation that evening with himself, campaign manager Bill Stepien, deputy campaign manager Justin Clark and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. (Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello, has since told USA TODAY that Giuliani denies being intoxicated.)
Does this mean the fate of our democracy was, for a few moments, at the mercy of a drunk old man, desperately trying to remember his glory days? We’ll probably never know whether or not he was actually shit-hammered, but based on how he always looks...and talks...and acts, it’s really not that hard to believe.
Giuliani’s wild claims of voter fraud then apparently divided everyone into opposing teams: Team Normal and Team Crazy, who probably sat at different lunch tables. In video testimony, Stepien explained that anyone who told Trump he lost became a member of the former team, while anyone in Giuliani’s camp (like Sidney Powell, ugh) was a member of the latter. “I didn’t mind being characterized as being part of ‘Team Normal,’ as reporters kind of started to do around that point in time,” Stepien said. “I didn’t think what was happening was necessarily honest or professional at that point in time.”
Monday’s reunion, I mean hearings, also heard testimony from White House lawyer Eric Herschmann—who didn’t say which team he was on, but it seems like it was Team Normal, and who recalled blowing up at John Eastman, the Trump lawyer who wrote the false claim that then-Vice President Mike Pence could just go and give the election to Trump on Jan. 6. “‘Are you out of your effing mind?’” Herschmann said he told Eastman. “I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: orderly transition.”
The committee also heard how Trump raised $250 million from donors after the to go towards something called the “Official Election Defense Fund”—which is pretty triggering for anyone who’s ever been harassed by their alma mater for donations before they’ve barely even earned a single paycheck. Unsurprisingly, there was no such thing as an “Official Election Defense Fund” and most of the money went to Trump’s Save America PAC—the only real fraud Trump should have even been concerned about.
“I told him the stuff his people were shoveling out to the public was bulls***,” Barr also said in his testimony— and it’s always unfortunate to see two literal partners-in-crime years fall out with each other years after graduation.
The hearings are scheduled to resume Wednesday, with representative Liz Cheney claiming that Monday’s hearings were “narrowly focused,” while Wednesday’s hearing will reveal a “broader picture” of how Trump instigated the Capital riots. It will certainly not be the time of anyone’s life.