Congressional hearings demolish Trump’s Big Lie

I have been following the congressional hearings on the the events of January 6th, 2021 when hordes of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol building, breaking in and defacing it and stealing property, in their futile effort at stopping Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. They were responding to Trump’s call to action, duped into believing his pathetic and obvious lie that the election had been stolen from him and that he had been re-elected.

One feature that is emerging is that the people who were employed by the White House in any kind of professional capacity, such as his attorney General Bill Barr, lawyers or employees of various governmental agencies and even his campaign manager, kept telling Trump that there was no evidence of massive fraud.

But clearly Trump had decided even before election night that he was not going to concede defeat and the rumors fed to him by some of political advisors, including a possibly drunk Rudy Giuliani, gave him the means to propagate the Big Lie that the election was stolen from him, even though it was known to be false from the get-go by those close to Trump who were working in the White House. Even Trump’s daughter Ivanka said that she accepted Barr’s opinion.

The hearings revealed that Trump would raise an allegation of fraud that he had been told about and when he was told that it had been looked into and there was nothing there, he would shift to another allegation. When that was shot down, he would shift to a third. And so on. Since the toadies who surrounded him kept feeding him these wild rumors, there was never a shortage of new allegations for Trump to cling on to.

This type of argumentation will be familiar to anyone who has dealt with conspiracy theorists, or anti-vaxxers or climate change deniers or anti-evolutionists. They too keep shifting the nature of their objections without defending their debunked hypotheses nor conceding that they were mistaken. This enables them to raise those same hypotheses again at a later time as if the previous debunking never happened. They have decided on what they believe and nothing will shift them from it. They avoid answering the question: “What would it take to persuade you that you are wrong?” because they do not want to be pinned down to specifics.

Monday’s hearing also tried to understand why Trump was doing this. The answer, as is almost always the case with anything associated with Trump, is that it at least partially served as a grift , to separate the rubes who blindly believe in him from their money.

The hearing closed with the jarring words of Eric Herschmann, a White House lawyer, who recalled a phone call with John Eastman, another of the president’s lawyers whom a judge has said conspired with Trump to overturn the election.

“I said to him, Are you out of your effing mind?” Herschmann recalled. “I said I… only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth for now on: orderly transition.”

Before the hearing ended, the committee’s senior investigative counsel Amanda Wick outlined one possible motivation for why Trump stuck with the fraud claims: they were a money-making opportunity.

“As the select committee has demonstrated, the Trump campaign knew these claims of voter fraud were false, yet they continue to barrage small dollar donors with emails encouraging them to donate to something called Official Election Defense Fund. The select committee discovered no such fund existed,” she said.

Wick goes on to say much of the $250 million raised for the supposed effort was funneled into a political action committee that made donations to pro-Trump organizations, as well as confidantes like his chief of staff Mark Meadows. The barrage of fundraising emails to supporters “continued through January 6, even as President Trump spoke on the ellipse. Thirty minutes after the last fundraising email was sent, the Capitol was breached,” Wick said.

The public hearings will continue, with the next one on Wednesday, where they will reveal more details.

Hearing 3, June 15 will target Trump’s alleged plot to influence and possibly replace the U.S. Attorney General in order to further false election claims. Set to testify are Jeffrey Rosen, who was then acting attorney general, his deputy Richard Donoghue and Justice Department official Steve Engel. The Post says their testimony will take place in the morning.

Hearing 4 is intended to outline Trump’s efforts to pressure VP Mike Pence to stop the electoral count. There is some indication this hearing will take place Thursday, June 16. Greg Jacob, the former chief counsel to the vice president will reportedly testify.

Hearing 5, June 21 will trace the then-president’s alleged efforts to unduly influence state legislators and election officials. Brad Raffensperger, secretary of state of Georgia and Gabriel Sterling, one his top aides, have been subpoenaed to testify.

Hearings 6 & 7 are meant to detail how “Trump summoned a violent mob and directed them, illegally, to march on the U.S. Capitol” and how he failed to act to stop those same people as they invaded the Capitol building. No date is yet set for these proceedings.

The key questions are whether these hearing will persuade many people to change their minds about Trump and the Big Lie, and whether they will persuade the Department of Justice that there is enough evidence to criminally charge Trump and others.

Seth Meyers summarizes the hearings so far.

Trevor Noah also had a good summary.


  1. billseymour says

    My guess is that hardly anyone whose mind needs to be changed will have watched the hearings; and having not watched, will make authoritive comments about how it was all political theater.

    I actually agree that it’s political theater…that’s obvious from the format…but that doesn’t mean that what’s revealed in the hearings is untrue.  Unfortunately, what the Trumpistas cannot even comprehend, because they would never have such a desire, is that the committee members’ motivation for the theater is not personal power or wealth, but rather actual concern for the country.

  2. consciousness razor says

    Since the toadies who surrounded him kept feeding him these wild rumors, there was never a shortage of new allegations for Trump to cling on to.

    The story is supposed to be that he was surrounded by people from two camps: those who did and those who didn’t go along with the bullshitting about fraud. So, there also wasn’t a shortage of people telling Trump to not cling onto those allegations.

    The key questions are whether these hearing will persuade many people to change their minds about Trump and the Big Lie, and whether they will persuade the Department of Justice that there is enough evidence to criminally charge Trump and others.

    Yeah … uh … about that….

    Jan. 6 committee will not make any criminal referrals, chairman says: Rep. Bennie Thompson indicated it’s up to the Justice Department to decide on its own whether to pursue criminal prosecutions.

    Of course it’s up to them, because that’s how any referral/recommendation would work, since those don’t legally oblige them to do anything. That’s basically the only thing to do, if there’s going to be any point to this at all, other than making their political opponents look bad for the upcoming elections. (And the latter is inappropriate as the reason why it’s being done, since it’s an official function of the government using public resources, not a campaign ad or something like that.)

    “Our job is to look at the facts and circumstances around January 6 — what caused it — and make recommendations after that,” Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters as he left the House chamber after the second day of public hearings by the panel.

    When pressed on the matter and whether the committee had ruled out the possibility of referring criminal charges, particularly for former President Donald Trump, Thompson replied: “We don’t have authority.”

    FFS, yes you do have authority for it. That’s what a “recommendation” is, and you just said you can do that.

    But the committee’s vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., suggested later on Monday that a decision was not yet final.

    “The committee has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. We will announce a decision on that at an appropriate time,” she said in a statement on Twitter.

    Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., tweeted in a separate statement, that the committee “has yet to vote,” on recommending criminal referrals.

    “If criminal activity occurred, it is our responsibility to report that activity to the DOJ,” she said.

    I can’t tell if that’s a serious disagreement about that or just confusion. Maybe they’re still debating what to do, or they’re still trying to gauge the public’s reaction. Who the fuck knows?

    Also, from the other end of things at the Justice Dept. (CNN):

    Navarro is now the second former Trump adviser to be indicted for criminal contempt of Congress for defying a January 6 committee subpoena. The first referral from the House, for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, was picked up by DOJ and has led to an indictment. He faces a criminal trial this summer. The Department of Justice on Friday informed the committee that it will not indict two other Trump allies referred for prosecution: former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and ex-deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino.

    So don’t get your hopes up. “Mostly pointless” is a pretty safe bet.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    They avoid answering the question: “What would it take to persuade you that you are wrong?”

    I’ve observed there’s another group that applies to: people who support and believe Amber Heard. I posed that question to some of her rather shrill supporters elsewhere here on FtB, and in return… crickets.

    (Note: I speak as a person who believed Amber Heard, and was not particularly surprised when Depp lost his libel action against The Sun newspaper for calling him a “wife beater”. I figured at the time that one should believe the claims of the woman, and as I’ve said elsewhere, is anyone bored of seeing rich famous men brought down? Not me.

    Then… more evidence came in. Better evidence. More comprehensive evidence. And I changed my mind. Lots and lots of people didn’t though. I see people who still support Heard even now in exactly the same light as creationists and QAnon loons -- gullible dupes who’ve invested too much of their sense of self in their opinion on this one thing to the point they daren’t admit they might be wrong. Trumpites are just the same.

  4. consciousness razor says

    Yes. I’ve seen the same kind of thing (also from nominally liberal or progressive people) with all the sabre-rattling over Ukraine too, for instance. There are also numerous cases, any time that Biden or the party needs defending (or so one might think) from any criticism no matter how mild. And even in this particular story, people have been trying to rehabilitate Liz Cheney, as they’ve done with many other anti-Trump Republicans, despite her widely-known and well-documented horrible positions on basically everything under the sun that isn’t Trump.

    We tend to pick on certain (especially right-wing) versions of it, but it can happen any time someone has very deep ideological commitments. If they just won’t let themselves even adjust it in any way in response to evidence (at least not openly), that’s not hard to recognize. They should realize it’s a problem, but typically the thought is that something more important than the truth is at stake (although they may not say this in so many words).

  5. says

    It’s good that these hearings are going on, just to establish a public record. But I doubt it will change the minds of Trump supporters. They don’t really care if he lied or not. All they know is that their “team” didn’t win and that automatically means that the results are illegitimate because they belong in the driver’s seat. Period. However they get control, they’re fine with it. Trump’s lies are a means to an end and they feel like their “in” on the process. This is where all the rhetoric about “taking America back” comes from. They feel the government belongs to them (their team). I suspect that “take it back”, “reclaim America” and similar slogans will be as common as fly sh*t in the coming fall elections. Heck, they were all over the local school board elections here last month.

  6. ardipithecus says

    I love it that ‘stop the steal’ was/is the slogan for stealing donations from their followers.

  7. seachange says

    This whole thing and the commentary by the comics sounds like a buncha frat boys realizing that the whole frat is responsible in addition to several of their rowdy members and one member in particular. Giuliani was drunk! (as if they all weren’t). He was really drunk (that is to say not just alcohol, alcohol is legal so they’d never up and say y’know -it-) and despite us not telling you forthrightly anything else at all even though you know what’s true: he was drunk! None of us not a single one were also (by implication) doing the same ethanol, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin that he was! Honest, Merrick. Bro!

    Both Meyers and Noah did the semi-misogyny thing of it being funny that Ivanka who is stupid but not that stupid or as stupid as Trump himself or his other get, was just some silly fuckable girl and that her dad was throwing her under the bus. His tweet was calculated and was making her seem uninvolved when it’s quite likely that she was. Normally I’d be all, well not all things a comic does is funny. But them buying and repeating the frat-story makes them suspect in my eyes.

  8. sonofrojblake says

    @consciousness razor, 4:

    something more important than the truth is at stake

    That’s it, in a nutshell. I hate it when the right do it, but I hate it even more when the left do it because we’re supposed to know better. It’s bullshit like that that makes me want to go full Marcus Ranum nihilist and say bollocks to the left AND the right. Except how do you even do that if your nature is towards progressive behaviour? All I have left is refusing to make excuses for or take any notice of the fuckwits who are nominally on my side but spend a significant proportion of their energy screaming at me. Bod it’s depressing.

  9. says

    It’s good to know that some people here can be swayed by well-funded campaigns designed very purposefully to cast a shadow over the #MeToo movement.

  10. billseymour says

    consciousness razor @4:

    … people have been trying to rehabilitate Liz Cheney, …, despite her widely-known and well-documented horrible positions …

    Yes, Cheney is wrong on just about everything; but she does seem to have a genuine concern for the future or our country.  Credit where credit is due.

    jimf @6 (and others with similar comments):

    [fixing a typo]  When will there be a post-edit function?

    There is a preview function.  I generally compose a comment in a plain old text editor complete with all the HTML tags and entities that I need, proofread it, copy and paste into the comment field, hit the preview button, and proofread it again.

  11. sonofrojblake says

    @11: I wasn’t swayed by a campaign. I was swayed by listening to Amber Heard’s own words. That’s what we are supposed to do, right? Listen to women? I do. I did. That’s what changed my mind. Or is the movement more important than the truth, to you?

    I’ll ask you straight out, right here: what evidence would it take to change your mind on that subject?

  12. says

    I never said she wasn’t guilty. Johnny Depp, however, wasn’t innocent. It was very much an anti-MeToo campaign, not just in the courtroom but in the court of public opinion and how news sites covered it. Already there’s a push to discredit Evan Rachel Wood and her accusations against Marilyn Manson. A lot of powerful men were shaken by the #MeToo movement and they very much want to discredit it.

  13. consciousness razor says

    Tabby Lavalamp:

    It’s good to know that some people here can be swayed by well-funded campaigns designed very purposefully to cast a shadow over the #MeToo movement.

    All I did was see evidence from the trial, which was not about a movement. It had to do with exactly two (2) famous people, who were suing each other.


    Yes, Cheney is wrong on just about everything; but she does seem to have a genuine concern for the future or our country.

    No, not if you construe that future in terms of “just about everything,” as almost all of the future would be.

    But if you do understand that what you’re literally saying here is ~99.9% incorrect, then maybe we can still agree.

    Credit where credit is due.

    Fine, assuming this has basically no impact on anything, then whatever floats your boat.

    But that’s a long way from stuff like Robert Reich saying she should be president, which is a real case of Trump derangement syndrome.

    (I have no idea how it spreads, but masks are a good precaution. We can be absolutely certain of this, simply because the great evil which is always wrong — Trump voters — would hate it.)

  14. consciousness razor says

    Also, I forgot to mention the lab leak stuff in #4. That’s a good example too, yet another one that could get us all killed if people don’t take it seriously.

  15. sonofrojblake says

    @14: so… We believe the same thing, but I believe it because I’m the gullible dupe of an orchestrated campaign, but by contrast you believe the same thing because…?

  16. Deepak Shetty says


    Then… more evidence came in. Better evidence. More comprehensive evidence.

    Sorry , but what is this “evidence” you speak of with respect to Heard? A lot of the case has hinged on “Who is more believable” -- and its probably also true that Depp is in fact a better actor than Heard -- there is no concrete evidence one way or another of the specific claims in question. You say you changed your mind after you heard her so now Im really curious what self incriminating evidence was presented.

  17. John Morales says

    Holms, some people may be addressing the trial and its protagonists’ mutual merit, but I make Tabby to be addressing its sociocultural significance.
    An Overton window type of thingy affecting Me Too.

    (Honestly, I’m neither versed nor informed enough to make a determination about that)

  18. Silentbob says

    @ 19 Holms

    Oh poor Holms. It must be tedious for you to constantly exposed to things you’re not interested in. But chin up, could be worse.

    Suppose for example you belonged to a tiny persecuted, powerless minority, and everywhere you went there were utterly clueless numpties pontificating about your existence to the tune of dozens of comments in dozens of comment threads while displaying a complete and utter ignorance of the experiences of said minority. I speak purely hypothetically of course. But imagine how much worse that would be. I mean if ever such a thing were to happen, Holms.

  19. Holms says

    John, the notion that the trial is of grand cultural significance is the very thing that has caused its tedious ubiquity.

  20. John Morales says

    Holms, well, that, but mainly public prurience pertaining to popular people.

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