Former US president Donald Trump and his aides did not protest the results of his defeat at the 2020 presidential elections because of evidence of fraud. On the contrary, Trump had “a premeditated” plan to proclaim himself the winner regardless of the result, according to evidence presented by the House committee investigating the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021. This panel on Thursday unanimously voted to subpoena the former president for a formal deposition. However, it is unlikely that Trump will agree to do so, and he may appeal the decision.
“He is the one person at the center of the story of what happened on January 6,” said Bennie Thompson, the committee chairman, at what may have been the panel’s last public hearing. “He must be accountable. He is required to answer for his actions.”
At the session, the Republican Liz Cheney, a leading committee figure, warned that “January 6 could happen again.”
Trump himself quickly dismissed the subpoena as a stunt. “Why didn’t the Unselect Committee ask me to testify months ago?” he posted on Truth Social, his own social media app. “Why did they wait until the very end, the final moments of their last meeting? Because the Committee is a total ‘BUST’ that has only served to further divide our Country which, by the way, is doing very badly – A laughing stock all over the World?”
Messages from his team, trusted aides and the ex-president’s own public statements show that there was a pre-established script for Trump to proclaim himself the winner of the election no matter what the result of the vote. They were counting on the fact that Democratic voters tend to vote more by mail and they were prepared to try to slow down the count and proclaim victory as a fait accompli. Tom Fitton, leader of the conservative group Judicial Watch, went so far as to send an email to a member of Trump’s team recommending the text of the statement Trump should make to proclaim himself the winner before all the votes were counted. That message has been found in the National Archives.
The plan failed, but the insistence of Trump and his supporters on proclaiming victory led to the violent assault on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, the day that Congress was preparing to certify Joe Biden’s victory.
“This big lie, President Trump’s effort to convince Americans that he had won the 2020 election, began before the election results even came in,” said Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat for California. “It was intentional, it was premeditated, it was not based on election results or any evidence of actual fraud affecting the results or any actual problems with voting machines.”
The committee’s last public hearing, which comes shortly before the November midterm elections, was carefully executed. It highlighted statements by Trump and his aides, including his famous call in which he asked the Florida Secretary of State to “find 11,780 votes,” as well as excerpts from statements taken from witnesses, emails and other documents, interspersed with statements by the members of the committee itself. In addition to providing some new evidence, the session also served to some extent as a summary of the previous hearings.