Jan. 6 committee opens can of worms for Republican senator

Jan. 6 committee opens can of worms for Republican senator

June 22, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

After the hearing ended Tuesday, the lawmaker told CNN that he had “no idea” who tried to have him share the fake Trump elector slates with Pence on the morning of the insurrection. 

Select committee investigators argue those so-called “alternate slates” were a key element of the former president’s push to overturn the 2020 election results and the result of a fraudulent and likely criminal scheme carried out by Trump and a battery of his attorneys including Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis.

“I was aware that we got this package and that somebody wanted us to deliver it,” Johnson said of the Trump slates. “So we reached out to Pence’s office.”

A spokesperson for Johnson, Alexa Henning, tried to put a lid on things after the hearing.

In a statement, Henning said Johnson had “no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office.” 

“This was a staff-to-staff exchange,” Henning said. “His new chief of staff contacted the Vice President’s office. The Vice President’s office said not to give it to him and we did not. There was no further action taken. End of story.”

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But, as these things tend to go, that is not the end of the story. 

According to CNN, as Johnson was making his exit from the Capitol Tuesday he told reporters that “a House staffer delivered it to his office” but he didn’t know the staffer nor what office they may have worked in. 

“We didn’t know—literally don’t—it was a staff-to-staff—somebody from the House, some staff intern, you know, said we got to, to the vice president needs this or whatever,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t involved.”

He continued: “I don’t know what they said. But … somebody from the House delivered to a staff member in my office. My chief of staff called the vice president, ‘Hey we got this.’ And the vice president said, ‘Don’t deliver it and we didn’t.”

Johnson called it a “complete nonstory” repeatedly when reporters pressed further, asking him if he knew the identity of the person who sent the slates. 

During this exchange, he also pretended to be on his cellphone. 

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The lawmaker also said Tuesday when he asked members of his staff who sent the package “nobody” knew. 

He told a reporter at ABC on Tuesday night, “there’s no conspiracy here.”

His answer failed to address an important detail.

Johnson’s aide told Pence’s aide that the Trump slates needed to be hand-delivered since the Archive did not receive them but court records have shown that the slates were sent well in advance. 

Trump Elector Slates Jan 6 Probe by Daily Kos on Scribd

As noted by Politico reporter Kyle Cheney, it would seem that the National Archives didn’t accept the slates as genuine. 

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The attempted submission of unsanctioned elector slates so far beyond the Dec. 14 deadline is a significant piece of evidence in the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s role in it.

States are required to certify their electoral results and deliver their slates no later than Dec. 14. 

The last-minute attempt to put forward Trump’s so-called “alternate electors,” raises serious questions about the former president’s intent leading up to Jan. 6 and the direct involvement of members of Congress in a bid to overturn the 2020 election results.

During its last two hearings, the committee highlighted at length how several of Trump’s White House attorneys and advisers warned him that the “alternate elector” gambit could be illegal.

Another text shared by the panel on Tuesday came from Mark Jefferson, the executive director of the Wisconsin GOP.

It was sent on Jan. 4, 2021, at 9:02 PM and appeared to reflect a harried Jefferson working into the night as he fielded intensifying calls in Wisconsin to have the fake slates sent to Washington.

“Freaking trump idiots want someone to fly original elector papers to the senate president. They’re gonna call one of us to tell us just what the hell is going on,” Jefferson wrote.

The “alternate elector” scheme was in the works shortly after Election Day 2020.

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Video deposition from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, highlighted how Meadows and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani met around Thanksgiving to discuss the fake elector scheme.

Andrew Hitt,  the onetime chair of the Wisconsin GOP and one of Trump’s unsanctioned electors, also testified to the committee. 

In a clip of his video deposition, Hitt said he was told that the alternate slates in his state would “only count” if Trump won one of his many lawsuits alleging widespread election fraud. 

“I was told that these would only count if a court ruled in our favor,” Hitt testified,

Trump won none of those lawsuits but this has been the standard defense from Trump’s bunk electors and from the former president’s attorneys as the investigation has unfurled: It was a contingency. 

But a contingency with no real legal merit.

Importantly, Trump electors in Wisconsin didn’t bother to include a disclaimer or text notating that their certificates would only be considered valid if there was a disputed election. 

In the pool of seven states that advanced Trump’s bunk electors, only two states, Pennsylvania and New Mexico affixed a disclaimer to their unsanctioned certificates. Trump’s alternate slates came from Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, New  Nevada, and Michigan as well.

Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Daily Kos on Wednesday. Jan. 6 committee chair Bennie Thompson said Tuesday that it had not yet decided whether to call Johnson forward. 

Other Republican lawmakers asked to cooperate with the probe voluntarily have refused. Subpoenas didn’t prompt a different outcome, either. 

The committee issued subpoenas to Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Leader of the House GOP Kevin McCarthy, and Andy Biggs of Arizona. 

Biggs was called out by name during Tuesday’s hearing when Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers testified under oath that Biggs called him on Jan. 6 and urged him to decertify the state’s electors at the eleventh hour. 

“I said I would not,” Bowers said. 

Court records show Meadows’ aide Cassidy Hutchinson testifying to the committee that Biggs was one of at least 10 Republicans who met with Meadows on Dec. 21 to discuss how to overturn the election. 

Also in attendance, Hutchinson said, were Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Jody Hice of Georgia, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. 



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