Testimony of Trump aides sheds light on former president’s false voter fraud claims

Correction: This piece incorrectly identified Jason Miller as a Trump attorney. He was a senior advisor to Trump's 2020 re-election campaign. We regret the error.

For nearly a year, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has worked mostly behind closed doors, gathering more than 140,000 documents and talking to more than 1,000 witnesses. On Monday, the committee shared new details from some of former President Trump's inner circle about the spread of the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    For nearly a year, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has worked mostly behind closed doors, gathering more than 140,000 documents and talking to more than 1,000 witnesses.

    Today, the committee continued the public phase of its investigation, sharing new details from some of former President Trump's inner circle about the spread of a false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen.

    Amna Nawaz begins our coverage.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Day two of the January 6 Committee's public hearings zeroed in on what President Trump knew and when he knew it.

  • Ben Ginsberg, Former Bush-Cheney Campaign Attorney:

    The 2020 election was not close.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Featuring a slate of Republican voices who said they told him repeatedly for months his claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election were baseless.

  • William Barr, Former U.S. Attorney General:

    He's become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Among those voices, Bill Stepien, former Trump campaign manager, who bowed out of testifying in person just this morning after his wife went into labor, but who told the committee in previous interviews that he warned Trump multiple times, including on election night, results could take a while.

    Bill Stepien, Trump 2020 Campaign Manager: My recommendation was to say that votes were still being counted. It's too early to tell, too early to call the race.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The committee says Trump ignored Stepien and instead listened to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY):

    You will also hear testimony that President Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night and instead followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Here is Trump's 2020 campaign senior advisor, Jason Miller, describing Giuliani that night.

    Jason Miller, Former Trump 2020 Campaign Senior Adviser: I think the mayor was definitely intoxicated, but I did not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president, for example.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Adding to the committees's election night narrative, former FOX political editor Chris Stirewalt, who was overseeing the conservative network's election night coverage, including when they accurately break the news that Joe Biden would win Arizona.

  • Bret Baier, FOX News Anchor:

    OK, time out, this is a big development.

  • Martha MacCallum, FOX News Anchor:

    Yes.

  • Bret Baier:

    The FOX News Decision Desk is calling Arizona for Joe Biden. That is a big get for the Biden campaign.

  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA):

    After the election as of November 7, in your judgment, what were the chances of President Trump winning the election?

  • Chris Stirewalt, Former FOX NEWS Digital Politics Editor:

    After that point?

  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren:

    Yes.

  • Chris Stirewalt:

    None.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Despite advisers' warnings, and the electoral math not in his favor, Trump took the stage in the early morning hours of November the 4th and said this:

    Donald Trump, Former President of the United States: Frankly, we did win this election.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Donald Trump:

    So our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud in our nation.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That night, according to witness testimony, launched a split within team Trump, those who continued to push the big lie he had won the 2020 election and those who didn't.

    Here is former Attorney General Bill Barr.

  • William Barr:

    I felt that, before the election, it was possible to talk sense to the president and, while you sometimes had to engage in a big wrestling match with him, that it was possible to keep things on track. But I was — felt that, after the election, he didn't seem to be listening.

  • Bill Stepien:

    We called them kind of my team and Rudy's team. I didn't mind the characterized as being part of team normal.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The committee's second panel told the story of just how far Trump went in the weeks after the election to dig up voter fraud where there was none, even as allegation after allegation, more than 60 cases in all, were dismissed or found to be without merit by judges.

    Former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia BJay Pak, appointed by Trump, said he was asked to look into an allegation about a suspicious suitcase filled with fake ballots.

    Byung Jin "BJay" Pak, Former U.S. Attorney: We found that the suitcase full of ballots, the alleged black suitcase being pulled from under the table, was actually an official lockbox, where ballots were kept safe.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Pak resigned on January 4th of 2021, after details of Trump pressuring Georgia's secretary of state to — quote, unquote — "find more votes" became public.

    Al Schmidt, the loan Republican on Philadelphia's election board, was asked to probe other voter fraud allegations.

  • Al Schmidt, Former Philadelphia City Commissioner:

    Not only was there not evidence of 8,000 dead voters voting in Pennsylvania. There wasn't evidence of eight.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Even for these Republican officials, Trump's repeated lie led his supporters, echoing those lies, to make very real threats.

  • Al Schmidt:

    After the president tweeted at me by name, calling me out the way that he did, the threats became much more specific, much more graphic, and included not just me by name, but included members of my family by name, their ages, our address, pictures of our home.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The committee will once again pick up on the effect of the big lie on Wednesday during a hearing that will focus on Trump's attempts to replace the U.S. attorney general in the final days of his presidency.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz.

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