A retired federal judge will testify at Thursday’s House Select Committee hearing that former President Donald Trump and his allies “instigated” a war against democracy on Jan. 6 to overturn the results of the 2020 election so that he “could cling to power.”
Judge Michael Luttig, who served as an informal adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence, will tell the panel that “a stake was driven through the heart of American democracy on January 6,” according to his opening statement obtained by CNN.
“The war on democracy instigated by the former president and his political party allies on January 6 was the natural and foreseeable culmination of the war for America,” Luttig, a Republican, will say.
“It was the final fateful day for the execution of a well-developed plan by the former president to overturn the 2020 presidential election at any cost, so that he could cling to power that the American People had decided to confer upon his successor, the next president of the United States instead. Knowing full well that he had lost the 2020 presidential election,” the statement says.
Testimony at the House select committee is expected Thursday to zero in on Pence’s role in certifying the vote and the immense pressure that members of the Trump administration applied against the vice president to reject the count of the 2020 presidential election.
Images of Pence and his family members hiding at the Capitol on Jan. 6 after he was evacuated when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building were published by ABC News on Thursday.
The vice president was in his ceremonial office with his wife, Karen Pence, his brother, Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.), and his daughter just steps from the Senate floor.
The hearing, the third the committee has held publicly since last week, is also expected to hear testimony from Marc Short, the former vice president’s chief of staff, and Greg Jacob, a counsel to Pence.
The panel through their testimony will try to show Trump, running out of options after numerous courts rejected claims of rampant voter fraud, was left with few alternatives to thwart the count of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.
The committee says that the Trump White House adopted a plan presented to them by conservative law professor John Eastman on how Pence could reject certified electors from disputed states, throwing the process into disarray.
Pence refused to comply, saying that he didn’t have the constitutional authority to do so.
As the mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, many of them called out Pence by name, chanting “hang Mike Pence,” and erected a gallows on the buildin’s grounds.
Short, according to a report in the New York Times, alerted the Secret Service to be on alert for violence toward Pence because the former president was going to speak out against him over his refusal to reject the vote.
The attack on the Capitol disrupted Congress’ certifying the vote in favor of President Joe Biden for hours.
In Monday’s hearing, the panel showed a clip of former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann speaking to Eastman on Jan. 7 about his plans to continue to press voting fraud claims.
“[Eastman] started to ask me about something dealing with Georgia and preserving something potentially for appeal, and I said to him ‘are you out of your f–king mind?,’ ” Herschmann said.
“I said ‘I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: orderly transition.’ I said ‘I don’t want to hear any other f–king words coming out of your mouth no matter what, other than orderly transition,’ ” he continued.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr, in a clip from his deposition aired Monday, talked about a Dec. 14, 2020, meeting with Trump in the White House about purported fraud claims involving Dominion voting machines.
“I sat there flipping through the report and looking through it, and, to be frank, it looked very amateurish to me,” Barr recalled. “And I was demoralized because, oh, boy, if he believes this stuff, he has lost contact — he’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” he said later in the tape.
He resigned that day.
The previous hearings – one held in primetime last Thursday and the second Monday morning – laid out how campaign and administration officials pleaded with Trump that his claims of voter fraud were unfounded.
The hearing Thursday was initially scheduled for Wednesday but it was postponed because of “exhaustive” preparation.
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