Special coverage with Salon's Heather Digby Parton on overwhelming evidence Trump knew there was no fraud, then raised $250 million for phony 'Official Election Defense Fund'; Also: Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2022, 6:03pm PT  

On Day 2 of public hearings in the U.S. House, Donald Trump's greatest con continues to unravel. On today's BradCast, we get you all caught up on today's public hearings by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the attempt by the former President to steal the 2020 election by defrauding the nation. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The witnesses who testified live today, as our guest HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo pointed out, were all Republicans. And they all made clear that Trump not only lost the 2020 election, but he lied over and again about fraud, even though he was told...over and again, by his closest campaign advisers, top government officials and even his own family, that he lost fair and square. He knew his claims were, as his own Attorney General Bill Barr described it, "bullshit". Nonetheless, he kept barraging his supporters via email for more and more money for his "Official Election Defense Fund". But, as the Committee's Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) pointed out: There was no "Official Election Defense Fund" and the $250 million in small dollar donations Trump raked in all went to him, not to legal challenges of the 2020 election.

Once again, a mix of live and videotaped witness testimony put the lie to Trump's Big Lie fraud claims and the false notion that he believed them to be true. He didn't. He knew better. He just didn't care. Live witnesses today who underscored those points: Chris Stirewalt, the former Fox "News" political director who made the correct Election Night call that Trump had lost Arizona; BJay Pak, Trump's own U.S. Attorney in Georgia who investigated all of the many claims by Trump supporters of fraud in Atlanta, finding none of them to be true. He was forced to resign thereafter; Trump's own 2020 Campaign Manager, Bill Stepien, was scheduled to testify, but his wife suddenly went into labor on Monday morning, so the Committee relied on his video taped testimony in which he explained that he repeatedly told Trump that his claims of fraud were bogus; Philadelphia's Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt who debunked Rudy Giuliani's false testimony to the PA legislature that more than 8,000 "dead people" voted in the state in 2020. "Not only was there not evidence of 8,000 dead voters voting in Pennsylvania," Schmidt testified, "there wasn't evidence of 8."

The most damning testimony may have come from Trump's former Attorney General Bill Barr, who said on tape that he and the DoJ tracked down every claim made by Trump and his supporters and found none of them to be true. "Boy, if he really believes this stuff," Barr testified thinking, "he's become detached from reality." No matter how "crazy" he told Trump the allegations were, it made no difference. Barr debunked the notion that the Dominion Voting systems company stole the election for Joe Biden, and even went on to dismantle the easily-debunked 2000 Mules movie which pretends to document tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots cast unlawfully by thousands of people in swing-states. Barr's debunking of that film, which he laughs out loud about, was suspiciously similar to our own debunking on this program several weeks ago.

Even longtime, top GOP election attorney Ben Ginsberg --- who successfully lead the RNC's fight to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to steal the 2000 election for George W. Bush --- testified live on Monday that there was "no credible evidence of fraud produced by the Trump campaign or his supporters." He also made clear that dozens of lawsuits rejected by the courts (including by many Trump-appointed judges) did, in fact, examine the merits of the challenges and found no basis for them.

"I think what is important, and I was really glad to see, that they decided to take one of these hearings and really attack the Big Lie itself," Parton tells us today. "Because I don't think you can really prove the case about Trump's coup plot without attacking that as well. They went from the very beginning. Trump was undermining the election 18 months before the election took place."

Parton also praised the panel's highlighting of Trump's "'willful blindness,' in which he is shown to have been told by everyone that the election was not stolen. We're talking about his own campaign team, people in his family, the Dept. of Justice, various officials around the country. They all said the same thing. Ginsberg pointed out the courts also said the same thing. [Trump] refused to see it, and in fact continuously got more and more angry, apparently, continually ignored what they said, and went toward the people who told him what he wanted to hear."

"That's actually a legal concept, where someone does have an obligation --- they have a responsibility to at least have some recognition of the facts of a case. You're not allowed to go into a court and say, 'I didn't know,' when you've had dozens of people telling you something. So that's leads to maybe a potential criminal referral."

She also explained how she was "shocked" by the Big Lie fund-raising scam. "We all sort of knew this but it hadn't really been a focus until now," she observed. "But I think this is super-important, because this could go toward a real fraud investigation, a real case of wire fraud, where they defrauded millions of devoted followers with a Big Lie. And, in fact, a lot of the people who were involved in that fundraising, they also knew it was a Big Lie because they just testified to it. This is kind of a big deal."

Finally today, we open the phones to see how listeners are responding to what the House panel has been unpacking over the first two hearings, with at least another four still to come...

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