9 takeaways from the 2nd Jan. 6 committee hearing: Spotlight on Trump’s ‘Big lie, big ripoff’

The key quote on Monday was from former Attorney General Bob Barr on Trump’s election fraud claims: “If he really believes this stuff ... he’s become detached from reality.”

SHARE 9 takeaways from the 2nd Jan. 6 committee hearing: Spotlight on Trump’s ‘Big lie, big ripoff’
Video from an interview with Ivanka Trump, former President Donald Trump’s daughter and advisor, is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022

Video from an interview with Ivanka Trump, former President Donald Trump’s daughter and advisor, is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

WASHINGTON — With testimony from former President Donald Trump’s own inner circle, the Jan. 6 committee on Monday built the case that Trump was told multiple times by close advisors that his claim the election was stolen from him was bogus — even as it persists to this day and has been used to raise $250 million for a fake “Official Election Defense Fund.”

Top takeaways from the committee’s second hearing:

  1. Key quote: “I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff.” — Former Attorney General Bob Barr in a Jan. 6 committee video deposition about Trump’s refusal to accept findings that his claims of election fraud were false.

Barr’s powerful deposition was the star of the hearing.

2. Birth of the “Big Lie,” election night Nov. 3, 2020: In additional video clips of depositions, the committee methodically showed how Trump willfully ignored anyone who told him he was on a path to lose the election. That includes Ivanka Trump, husband Jared Kushner, campaign manager Bill Stepian, campaign advisor Jason Miller and more.

Yet he went out to declare victory that night, setting the stage for his election denial drive that led to his attempts to overturn the results, all culminating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to prevent Congress from finalizing Joe Biden’s presidential election.

Many of Trump’s supporters continue to believe his lies. Look no further than the Sun-Times/WBEZ poll showing among Illinois Republican voters surveyed, some two-thirds believe Trump won the 2020 election.

On election night, Trump was egged on by Rudy Giuliani, who was portrayed as a drunk fool at the hearing.

As committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., laid out, in her “just the facts,” way, “Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night, and instead followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani, to just claim he won, and insist that the vote counting stop — [and] to falsely claim everything was fraudulent.”

3. New: “Team Normal,” a term surfacing in the hearing to describe the legal team Trump dumped when they would not go along with his baseless claims of election fraud.

4. New: “Whack-a-mole,” the term Barr used in his deposition to describe how as soon as he swatted down one “B.S.” scheme, Trump would pop up with another.

5. Is this criminal: The Jan. 6 panel can and likely will refer their findings to the Justice Department, so prosecutors can determine if Trump could be charged with a crime. Panel member Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., in a sense spoke to Trump’s intent — a potentially important factor — when she said, “The election fraud claims were false. Mr. Trump’s closest advisors knew it. Mr. Trump knew it.”

6. Smoking gun vs. connecting the dots: The Jan. 6 committee in its first two hearings is putting together a compelling story about Trump’s efforts to overturn an election he lost — with the new element on Monday about how along the way he systematically ripped off donors.

So far, there is no specific piece of hard evidence — a recording or a document where Trump admits he lost but said he was going to persist anyway. These series of hearings are constructed so that when they are done, the totality of Trump’s actions to cling to power — backed by evidence and testimony — nails the case.

7. Trump’s grifting: In a 12-page statement emailed after the hearing Monday, Trump repeated debunked election lies. The email had a donation link to “Save America,” a political action committee that Lofgren threw a klieg light on at the hearing for basically only enriching Trump advisors and consultants.

8. “Big lie, big ripoff”: “Trump used the lies he told to raise millions,” Lofgren said. A committee investigator in a video framed the case: In scores of email fundraising appeals, donors were urged to give to something called the “Official Election Defense Fund.” The committee found no such fund existed.

But Save America does exist, created by Trump on Nov. 9, 2020.

The money did not go to litigate the election. Here are a few donations cited at the hearing: $1 million to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows charitable foundation. $1 million to the America First Policy Institute which employs several Trump administration officials.

And over $5 million to Event Strategies, Inc. the company that ran Trump’s Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse preceding the Capitol attack.

9. Red Mirage, explained: Trump and his loyalists assert someone rigged the vote because he was ahead in early vote counts. 

Democrats tend to use mail ballots. Republicans do more same day voting. Each local election jurisdiction has its own system of what gets counted first.

A “red mirage” occurs when same day votes are reported first, showing a Republican ahead based on incomplete returns. A “blue mirage” is when mail ballots are counted and reported first.

It’s the final result — not the momentary mirage — that matters.

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