The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on Congress to share evidence it has obtained relating to a scheme to insert false electors into the Electoral College in order to help former President Donald Trump illegitimately stay in office.
The false electors plot was coordinated by Trump’s campaign team, which included his former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The plan was to submit false slates of electors to the Electoral College, chosen not by voters but by Republican Trump loyalists in states that the former president had lost to now-President Joe Biden, sent to Congress while lawmakers certified the 2020 presidential election result. Former Vice President Mike Pence would then include the false electors in the counting of electors on January 6, after which he would take one of two actions to benefit Trump: he could either deem the false electors’ votes real (over the legitimate votes); or, citing confusion over which slate of electors to count, he could send the matter to the House of Representatives, where state delegations (which Republicans have majority control of) would then select the next president.
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Pence refused to go along with the scheme, saying that he didn’t have the constitutional authority to act as Trump and his inner circle had directed. In response, Trump applied public pressure on Pence, including during his “Stop the Steal” speech outside the White House on January 6, 2021, in which he instructed a mob of his followers to march to the Capitol building to interrupt the certification of the election.
Following that speech, dozens of Trump loyalists called for Pence to be hanged, an action that Trump later suggested was somehow justified due to their frustrations over the election’s result.
January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) told reporters on Wednesday that the panel was in discussions with the DOJ about the scheme, negotiating ways in which the department could view evidence the committee has collected — including viewing transcripts of depositions from witnesses who were selected to be false electors themselves.
The committee has not discussed sharing any other evidence yet with the DOJ, Thompson explained.
“The only issue we’ve engaged them on is the list of fraudulent electors,” he said.
Thompson did add, however, that the committee has had a “conversation” with the Justice Department regarding a phone call Trump made to an unidentified witness who hasn’t yet been featured in the public hearings. When Trump called this individual, who had worked as support staff in the White House during his tenure, they didn’t answer his call. The witness then contacted their own legal counsel, and the committee contacted the DOJ to alert them to a possible instance of witness tampering.
When committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) first made public details about Trump’s contact with this person, she emphasized that the committee would not tolerate such actions.
“Let me say one more time: We will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously,” Cheney said during Tuesday’s public hearing.