WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s closest campaign advisers, top government officials and even his family were systematically dismantling his false claims of 2020 election fraud ahead of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. But the defeated president was becoming “detached from reality” clinging to outlandish theories to stay in power.
That’s the assessment from former Attorney General Bill Barr testifying at Monday’s House hearing investigating the insurrection.
“I was somewhat demoralized because I thought, ‘boy if he really believes this stuff, he’s lost contact with … he’s become detached from reality,'” Barr said in a recorded deposition.
The panel is delving deeper into what it calls the “big lie,” the defeated Republican president’s false claims of voter fraud, laying out the case that Trump ignored all evidence the 2020 election was legitimate.
“The Trump campaign legal team knew there was no legitimate argument; fraud, irregularities or anything to overturn the election. And yet, President Trump went ahead with his plans for January 6 anyway,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.
The panel says Trump’s falsehoods provoked a mob of his supporters to attack the Capitol.
Two Trump campaign camps
Former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said after the election there were competing camps. One was Stepien’s camp, which he called “Team Normal” and the other camp pushing conspiracy theories.
“I didn’t think what was happening was necessarily honest or professional at that point in time so that led to me stepping away,” Stepien said.
Witnesses are also being called to testify about Trump’s response to the election results. The former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Bjay Pak, said Barr asked him to investigate conspiracy theories about ballot stuffing in Atlanta.
“We found that the suitcase full of ballots — the alleged black suitcase that was being seen pulled from under the table — was actually an official lockbox where ballots were kept safe,” Pak said.
Al Schmidt, a Republican former city commissioner of Philadelphia, said he investigated claims of dead people voting in Pennsylvania.
“Not only was there not 8,000 dead voters voting in Pennsylvania, there wasn’t eight,” Schmidt said.
Both of those conspiracy theories were being pushed publicly by Trump ally Rudy Giuliani.
The House Select Committee will hold another hearing Wednesday with former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen scheduled to testify.