In response to the second public hearing of the January 6 committee, former President Donald Trump released a 12-page statement – yes, 12 full pages! – seeking to rebut the charges leveled against him.
It’s filled with the usual name-calling, exaggerations and conspiracy theories that have dominated Trump’s post-2020 election life. But it’s also a window into the former President’s psyche as the January 6 committee weighs whether to recommend a criminal indictment of Trump to the Department of Justice.
I went through Trump’s, um, statement. The lines from it you need to see are below.
1. “If they had any real evidence, they’d hold real hearings with equal representation.”
Remember that the reason there isn’t an independent commission – like the one that investigated the 9/11 terrorist attacks – is because Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell killed it after it had passed the House with 35 GOP votes. And away we go!
2. “They use the illegally-constituted committee to put on a smoke and mirrors show for the American people, in a pitiful last-ditch effort to deceive the American public … again.”
It’s not at all clear to me what Trump thinks is illegal about the January 6 committee. It is a select committee established by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Not unlike the Benghazi select committee established by then-House Speaker John Boehner.
3. “They have refused to allow their political opponents to participate in this process, and have excluded all exculpatory witnesses, and anyone who so easily points out the flaws in their story.”
Again, this is not quite accurate. First off, the reason the committee has two Republicans and nine Democrats is because a) McConnell nixed the idea of an independent commission and b) House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled all five of his picks for the committee when Pelosi rejected the appointments of Indiana Rep. Jim Banks and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan. Second, plenty of strongly pro-Trump witnesses have been subpoenaed by the committee. In fact, Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, two close Trump confidants, have refused to comply with subpoenas to testify before the committee.
4. “The Unselect Pseudo-Committee has coordinated with their media puppets to broadcast their witnesses on national television without any opposition, cross-examination, or rebuttal evidence.”
I hate to sound like a broken record here, but the committee took more than 1,000 depositions from all sorts of witnesses – including Bill Stepien, who managed Trump’s 2020 campaign, and Bill Barr, who served as Trump’s attorney general. Those aren’t exactly portraits of Trump haters. Plus, the committee tried to talk to people like Bannon and Navarro.
5. “What are the members of this treasonous ‘Committee’ afraid of?”
This is coming from someone who refused to accept the results of a free and fair election and incited people to protest the results because of a series of easily debunked conspiracy theories.
6. “Democrats created the narrative of January 6th to detract from the much larger and more important truth that the 2020 Election was Rigged and Stolen.”
Uh, what. So, several people died as a result of the riots on January 6. More than 100 police officers were injured. Over 800 people have been criminally charged for their roles in the insurrection that day. That’s less important that a set of lies about supposed election fraud?
7. “They illegally inflated voter rolls, illegally allowed harvested and stuffed ballots, abused the use of mail-in ballots, physically removed Republicans from counting facilities, abused the elderly in nursing homes, bribed election officials with donations, stopped counting on Election Night, gave Democrats three extra days to harvest ballots, and demanded that the American people believe it was legitimate.”
Wow. That’s, um a lot. There has been absolutely no evidence that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
8. “The truth is that Americans showed up in Washington, D.C. in massive numbers (but seldom revealed by the press), on January 6th, 2021, to hold their elected officials accountable for the obvious signs of criminal activity throughout the Election.”
Crowd size has long been a Trump hobbyhorse. But there’s just no evidence that the press purposely low-balled the crowd on January 6. Also, that is totally beside the point. Which is this: A mob of rioters stormed the US Capitol fueled by an election lie pushed by Trump that he had somehow been cheated out of victory.
9. “This is all a ridiculous and treasonous attempt to cover up the fact that Democrats rigged the Election and are siphoning Americans’ freedoms and power for their own benefit.”
What, exactly, is treasonous about the January 6 committee? Trump – surprise, surprise – doesn’t explain.
10. “On Election Night, America watched as my lead grew and grew over Joe Biden, as I was set to claim another victory.”
Simply not true. We knew well in advance of Election Day that, in large part because of new rules in place to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of mail-in ballots would be far higher than in past elections. And we knew that it would take some time to properly process all of them. Here’s what Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, suggested he say on election night: “My recommendation was to say that ‘votes were still being counted, it’s too early to tell, too early to call the race but we’re proud of the race we ran and we think we’re in good position.’” Trump didn’t take that advice.
11. “The Swamp was so determined to keep their stranglehold on power that they delayed the results of the Election so that they could find, manufacture, or produce more ballots, after they knew how many they needed to beat me.”
“To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election,” Barr said on December 1, 2020.
12. “There’s no reasonable explanation for why it took so much longer to count the few remaining ballots as opposed to the millions on Election Day – other than they needed to traffic more ballots, and it took four days to produce the ballots and do it.”
Aside from simply claiming it to be so, Trump offers no evidence for his claim that there were “few remaining ballots” left to be counted after Election Day. The reason he doesn’t offer any proof for this claim is that none exists.
13. “Like drug mules, in this context, mules are those paid to illegally traffic ballots from nonprofits organizations and drop them into the ballot drop boxes.”
It’s well worth watching – or reading – Barr’s complete takedown from Monday’s hearing of the film “2,000 Mules” which is where Trump gets this bogus information. Here’s the gist of it in one Barr quote: “If you take 2 million cell phones and figure out where they are physically in a big city like Atlanta or wherever, just by definition, you will find many hundreds of them have passed by and spent time in the vicinity of these boxes.”
14. “The truth is, according to Joe Biden, that the Swamp has created the ‘most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics – and it centers around ballot trafficking.’”
As Reuters noted of the Biden quote cited by Trump here: “It was a slip of the tongue – Biden was describing the voter protection program his campaign has launched in anticipation of potential legal fights over the outcome of the Nov. 3 election against President Donald Trump.”
15. “It’s also highly likely that True the Vote did not uncover 100% of the mules, making the numbers much larger than a landslide in scope, and that there were many more mules out there affecting more of the Election than we realize. This was not a close Election.”
Joe Biden won more than 81 million votes to Trump’s 74 million. So no, by recent measures it wasn’t a particularly close election. But I don’t think that’s what Trump means.
16. “Joe Biden, a candidate who never left his basement and can’t speak without a teleprompter, outperformed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their two high-charged elections.”
In terms of raw vote totals, that’s true. Biden’s 81 million votes is more than either Clinton or Obama received. But, in both 2008 (365) and 2012 (332), Obama received more electoral votes than Biden.
17. “Either there’s a lot of black voters in America who identify more with Joe Biden than Barack Obama, or Democrats are stealing black votes – and we all know the answer to that.”
Before this line, Trump cites a handful of majority-Black counties and areas where Biden did better in 2020 than Obama did in 2008 or 2012. That fact is proof positive of fraud, according to Trump. Of course, it’s not. First of all, the population, in the Black community and elsewhere, grew between 2008 and 2020, meaning that there were just more voters to be had for Biden than for Obama. Also, and I am just spitballing here, isn’t it possible that the desire to vote Trump out of office was a powerful motivator for lots and lots of Black voters?
18. “Mark Zuckerberg contributed $419 million dollars to election initiatives around the country.”
Trump is suggesting here that Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, spent hundreds of millions of dollars to endure that Democrats won the 2020 election. The only thing he gets right though is the amount of money Zuckerberg spent. Trump would do well to read this Protocol piece headlined “How ‘Zuck Bucks’ saved the 2020 election — and fueled the Big Lie.”
19. “Zuckerberg should be criminally prosecuted. Election laws prevent individuals from donating more than $5,000 per year, yet Zuckerberg gave $419 million.”
Again, Trump is simply wrong about what Zuckerberg did in the 2020 election. As Protocol notes: “He offered grants to any election official who wanted one, so long as they spent it on what a lot of people would consider mundane essentials that make it easier and safer for everyone to vote: ballot sorters, drop boxes, poll workers and — because it was 2020 — hand sanitizer.”
18. “Rumors circulated that the Justices devolved to shouting and argued intensely over how to handle the Texas v. Pennsylvania case. Ultimately, the Justices yielded to the same fear mongering tactics Democrats had deployed for years. They punted and threw the case out on standing.”
As CNN reported of the election fraud case brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton: “The court’s order, issued with no public dissents, to dismiss the challenge is the strongest indication yet that Trump has no chance of overturning election results in court, and that even the justices whom he placed there have no interest in allowing his desperate legal bids to continue.” No public dissents. So, yeah.
19. “But, the Swamp runs deep. I guess that turning around an election was a step too far.”
Yes, I would say overturning an election was a “step too far.”
20. “Americans are struggling to fill their gas tanks, feed their babies, educate their children, hire employees, order supplies, protect our border from invasion, and a host of other tragedies that are 100% caused by Democrats who obtained power through a rigged election, and the people of our country are both angry and sad.”
This sentence is 53 words long. Yup.
21. “Nobody brings this up, but as President, I suffered years of vicious lies, scandals, and innuendo concerning a fake and contrived narrative of Russia, Russia, Russia.”
Allow me to quote from the Mueller Report: “(I)f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” reads the Mueller report. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. … Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
22. “This is merely an attempt to stop a man that is leading in every poll, against both Republicans and Democrats by wide margins, from running again for the Presidency.”
So, is Trump saying he is running for president again in 2024? Big news! Yeah, this feels like a good place to end.