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Erica R. Hendry
Erica R. Hendry
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Republican Rep. Russell “Rusty” Bowers, speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, testified June 21 before the House Jan. 6 committee about pressure he faced from former President Donald Trump and his allies to intervene in his state’s election results.
He was the first of several state-level election officials who testified during the fourth day of hearings about Trump’s pressure on states to interfere in the results of the 2020 election.
READ MORE: Who are the witnesses testifying at the Jan. 6 hearings?
Bowers supported Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020. After Trump’s loss, the former president and lawyer Rudy Giuliani called Bowers to ask for his help in having the state override voters’ choice of Joe Biden and pick its own slate of electors ahead of Congress’ Jan. 6 count.
Trump and Giuliani claimed the maneuver was legal under state law, but never sent the proof Bowers requested, he told the committee.
“And I said, ‘That’s totally new to me. I’ve never heard of any such thing,’” Bowers told the committee.
He described multiple phone calls from Trump and Giuliani, who also asked him to convene a special hearing of the legislature to consider the allegations of voter fraud. Bowers told the committee he refused because he did not believe evidence of election fraud was sufficient.
Bowers told Trump and Giuliani that this was not possible and that taking action based on hearsay evidence would be a violation of his oath of office.
“I said, ‘Look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath, when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it. And I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona, and this is totally foreign as an idea or a theory to me. You are asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath,’” Bowers testified.
Bowers also testified that Giuliani expected him to be more receptive to his claims of voter fraud because they were both Republicans.
“He would say, “Aren’t we all Republicans? I would think we would get a better reception — that you would listen to my suggestions,’” Bowers said.
Arizona’s Senate went on to authorize a recount of presidential and U.S. Senate results from Maricopa County, a process that has been a consistent source of misinformation about the election, including from the conservative firm hired to analyze results. Independent fact checkers and election analysts have dubbed the firm’s methods deeply flawed. The report confirmed Biden’s win and found no evidence of voter fraud.
Along with blocking the requests from Trump and Giuliani, Bowers also intervened in January 2022 to stop a House bill that would have given the state legislature power to choose its slate of presidential electors, overriding the winner chosen by voters.
WATCH LIVE: Jan.6 committee hearings – Day 4
Bowers was one of five recipients of this year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, given to public officials who protect U.S. democracy.
“As a conservative Republican, I don’t like the results of the presidential election,” Bowers said, according to the awards page. “I voted for President Trump and worked hard to reelect him. But I cannot and will not entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change the outcome of a certified election.”
Erica R. Hendry is the managing editor for digital at PBS NewsHour.
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