On today's BradCast: Special Coverage of gripping Day 4 public testimony in the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee's investigation of the January 6th insurrection and Donald Trump's repeatedly failed attempts to steal the 2020 election from the American people. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) led the bulk of the questioning of witnesses on Tuesday, observing at one point that "the system held, but barely", thanks to "people of courage, Republicans and Democrats, who put their oath to the country and Constitution above any other consideration."
We may take some issue with part of that on tomorrow's BradCast, with a guest who may rebut at least some of the testimony offered by the two Republican state officials from Georgia who testified on Tuesday, Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger and Deputy Sec. of State (who served as the voting system manager in 2020) Gabriel Sterling. But there should be no question of the selflessness of the two other live witnesses, Arizona's Republican state House Speaker Rusty Bowers and now-former Fulton County, GA election worker Wandrea "Shaye" Moss.
All four of them endured unrelenting and unforgivable attacks and threats and lies from Trump --- and from his attorney Rudy Giuliani and their mobs of thuggish supporters --- in his criminal attempts to fraudulently flip the results of the 2020 election in both of the swing-states focused on today. In the case of Moss in Atlanta, as one of our guests suggests today, she and her mother, Ruby Freeman (and eventually even her grandmother), were targets of nothing less than "a form of terrorism" by the President of the United States. All for the crime, as Moss explained, of "doing my job." It was a job that she loved. For ten years. Because she was able to help people vote. Now, as she testified this afternoon, she's barely able to leave the house, is constantly forced to look over her shoulder more than a year and a half since the election, is afraid to go out with her mother (for fear she might mention her name out loud), has gained 60 pounds, and has left her job for Fulton County that she loved so much. The terror visited on her and her mother was too much to bear.
Moss and Freeman were the targets of the oft-repeated Trump/Giuliani lie that they had hidden ballots in a "suitcase" under a table at the State Farm Arena counting room in Atlanta on Election Night, before "physically" forcing observers and the media to leave the room, and then counting those fraudulent ballots ("all for Joe Biden," as Trump lied) multiple times. All of those claims were easily rebutted lies. All of them. As Raffensperger and Sterling (who both voted for Trump) and even Trump's own advisors told him repeatedly. Trump knew they were lies, even before he continued to repeat them over and over, mentioning Ruby Freeman's name 18 times during his infamous recorded phone call with Raffensperger, threatening him with potential criminal penalties if he didn't "find" 11,780 votes --- one more than Trump needed --- to steal the election from Biden in the Peach State.
Bowers, also a Trump voter in Arizona, faced similar lies --- about hundreds of thousands of votes cast by undocumented immigrants and thousands of dead voters --- as he refused Trump's entreaties to convene a special session of the state legislature in order to select Electors for the disgraced President instead of the ones for Biden that the state's voters actually voted for. Bowers, elected to the state legislature in 1993, refused to violate the law and his sacred oath to both the state and U.S. constitutions.
It was an emotional --- and, at times, harrowing --- day in the hearing room, as the House panel laid out the pathetic story of the loser Trump's relentless attempts to force local officials to do his unlawful bidding, to trick several swing-state Republicans into signing up as fraudulent Electors, and as he threatened those who wouldn't play ball with the violence of his mobs.
We're joined today for our special coverage with smart analysis of the entire hearing by old-school progressive bloggers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and "DRIFTGLASS" of the Professional Left Podcast.
"What we're seeing over and over again [is that] Donald Trump was deeply, deeply immersed in this. He was calling these legislators and basically trying to order them to overturn the election on his behalf," Parton observers. "But there is also this undercurrent here that we're seeing through all of this, that this was always leading to violence. The violence was building from the time of the election. What [the Committee] did today, in particular, was talking about the threats of violence to all of these people. [Trump and his supporters] were inciting a form of terrorism against these people."
As Driftglass characterizes the case being laid bare by the Committee to date: "Donald Trump was the ringleader of this. He's the 'don'. He's the man calling the shots, dispatching his men into the field to threaten everybody. This is an army of raptors testing the fence --- 'Where can we find a break?' --- with the intention in mind at all times to retain power by any means necessary. And it was very clear that behind this was a mob of Brownshirts. He made it clear how deeply he was enjoying the idea scaring the crap out of people and ruining their lives for daring to stand in his way of holding onto power."
"Today was heartbreaking," he argues. "How could you be a citizen, love democracy, and watch these two very different people --- this old, bald, white guy, and these lovely African-American mother and daughter --- who go to very different churches, I'm sure, but have the same reverence for the Constitution and fidelity to duty, and believe this is a holy, sacred thing they're doing, and how completely they were undercut by that."
There is, of course, much much more in our coverage today. I hope you'll tune in...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)