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Jan. 6 hearing to focus on efforts to pressure states to block election certification

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Today we hear the story of a phone call.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

It's the call former President Trump placed to a Georgia election official after he lost the 2020 election. Trump asked Brad Raffensperger to change the numbers and claim he'd won Georgia by a single vote.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.

FADEL: The Republican election official refused since, like thousands of other officials, he knew Trump lost. The House committee investigating the January 6 attack today calls on the man who received that call. He's one of several witnesses who will testify about Trump's efforts to snatch the electoral votes of several states.

INSKEEP: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh joins us now. Good morning.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How does Raffensperger fit in with today's witnesses?

WALSH: Well, today's hearing is really all about this pressure campaign in multiple states. Brad Raffensperger is the Georgia secretary of state, who we heard on the phone with President Trump. He recently won a primary against a pro-Trump candidate. His deputy, Gabriel Sterling, is also going to appear. Sterling warned about violence or even someone getting killed if that pressure to push false election claims continued.

INSKEEP: Yeah, I remember those public warnings that he gave at the time. Aren't there a lot of officials across the country who received threats?

WALSH: There were. And we're going to hear about it from a couple more. Shaye Moss is a former Georgia election worker from Fulton County. She faced death threats along with her mother after Trump called her out by name and accused her of tampering with the election results. She and her mother were forced to go into hiding. We're also going to hear from Rusty Bowers today. He's a Republican who is the Arizona House speaker. Select committee aides note that Trump reached out to him personally, and so did Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. He came under pressure in the run up to January 6 and even in the months since the attack.

INSKEEP: Yeah. Now, what did Trump and his allies do in other states besides Georgia?

WALSH: Well, there was this whole scheme across several swing states to create this slate of fake electors. Congressman Adam Schiff, a member of the panel who's going to lead the questioning, previewed on CNN on Sunday about this direct link to the former president.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ADAM SCHIFF: We will show evidence of the president's involvement in this scheme. We'll also, again, show evidence about what his own lawyers came to think about this scheme.

WALSH: The panel is going to detail how there was this effort to interfere with the count of the electoral votes in Congress with those fake electors on January 6. We heard a lot about Trump outside legal advisor John Eastman in the last hearing. Today, we expect we're going to hear more about White House chief of staff Mark Meadows's role in this effort to push false claims and these false electors. Meadows's role especially in Georgia - Schiff told The Los Angeles Times that text messages show that Meadows pledged to send autographed red MAGA hats to people in Georgia who were involved in the audit of the election results.

INSKEEP: OK, well - free hat if you just overturn an election, I guess. This is characteristic, it seems to me, of the extra details that are coming out of these hearings. The broad outlines of the story I think we knew, but the details can be new. Where does the investigation go next?

WALSH: Well, Schiff said they're still pushing to get other people to come in. He didn't rule out a subpoena for Vice President Mike Pence. Another member of the panel, Zoe Lofgren, says the panel is going to start sending documents over to the Department of Justice for its own sprawling investigation. And Thursday's hearing is actually going to focus on the pressure campaign at DOJ to pursue false election fraud claims.

INSKEEP: Deirdre, thanks so much.

WALSH: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Deirdre Walsh
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.