The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection asserted in its second hearing Monday that the Capitol attack was the direct result of Donald Trump’s repeated baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Trump continued pursuing ever-outlandish claims of election fraud — then fundraised off of those false claims — despite being told repeatedly that Joe Biden had won the race fairly, according to testimony from those who had been close to the former president.
The committee played video of its deposition with former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, in which Stepien said he advised Trump on election night that it was too early to call the race and that they needed to wait until early and mail-in ballots were counted. Trump objected to that advice, Stepien said, and claimed that night that he had won, baselessly calling the race a “fraud” and an “embarrassment.”
Stepien told the committee that Trump’s orbit had cleaved into “Team Crazy” vs. “Team Normal” and that he was glad to be on the latter. However, Trump was increasingly listening only to allies who pushed conspiracy theories about the election.
“I was somewhat demoralized because I thought, boy … he has become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” former Trump attorney general William P. Barr said, according to video testimony the committee played Monday. “When I went into this and would tell them how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”