Under pressure from Trump, Benz threatened to cancel the election, the committee asks

WASHINGTON, June 16 (Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump has pressed his vice president, Mike Pence, to reverse his 2020 election defeat. Attack on US Capitol on Thursday, 2021.

Members of the Democratic-led House of Representatives say Trump continued his pressure campaign despite knowing that a violent mob of his supporters threatened Capitol when Benz and lawmakers met to formally certify President Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 election.

The nine-member panel, using the first three of at least six public hearings this month, has created a case that Trump’s attempts to thwart his defeat are tantamount to unlawful conduct beyond ordinary politics.

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Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, while repeating his false accusations that he lost the election because of widespread fraud that benefited the Democrats. Trump and his supporters – including several Republicans in Congress – dismissed the Jan. 6 group as a political witch hunt.

The certification vote on Jan. 6 caught Trump’s attention as a last chance to retain the presidency despite his election defeat.

Mark Short, Benz’s chief executive, testified in a video that Benz told Trump “several times” that he did not have the authority to suspend voting in Congress at the request of the Republican president.

Pence’s lawyer Gregory Jacob, a key supporter of the theory, and lawyer John Eastman admitted that his plan to stop Pence’s proceedings with the president two days before the attack violated the law.

Eastman argued that Benz could reject some state decisions if he thought they were illegal, giving Republicans in those states a chance to declare Trump the winner despite the actual number of votes cast.

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Pence’s advisers told the panel that the idea had no basis in law.

“These arguments were pleasing to the U.S. president aside, it was breathtaking,” said former U.S. Court of Appeals judge J.J. Said Michael Luttick, informal Benz consultant.

Trump is widely expected to run for president again in 2024, and committee members and witnesses have warned that he will not accept defeat, regardless of the actual outcome.

“Almost two years after that bad day in January 2021, still, Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and current threat to American democracy,” Lutick said.

The panel showed Eastman an email the president had apologized to former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer. Eastman never got it.

‘Hang Mike Pence’

There were several cold clips of thousands of Trump supporters descending on the Capitol after a rally, in which Trump repeatedly criticized Pence, chanting that Pence should be pulled out of the building or hanged.

At 2:24, Trump tweeted that while the attack was going on, Benz did not have the “courage” to stop counting.

Trump White House employee Sarah Mathews testified in the video, “By tweeting he felt like he was pouring gasoline on the fire.

Representative Pete Aguilar said a witness told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the Broad Boys, one of the right – wing groups involved in the Capitol attack, would have killed Pence if he had been able to access them.

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Team members said Trump’s comments against Pence provoked the crowd.

The group displayed photos of Benz staying during the riots. Jacob, who was with Benz at the time of the attack, said he refused to leave and did not want to give protesters the satisfaction of forcing himself out of the building. “The Vice President does not want any chance of the world seeing the Vice President leave the U.S. Capitol,” he said.

The attack on the Capitol delayed election certification for several hours, injuring more than 140 police officers and leading to several deaths.

Even after police suppressed the attack and recaptured Capitol, Eastman continued to put pressure on Pence’s team to defeat the referendum.

Eastman wrote to Jacob at 11:44, “I ask you one last time, Vice President, if you can do what we have asked him to do for these two days – suspend the joint session and send it back to the states.” In an email published by the pm Committee.

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Report by Patricia Zengerle, Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu; Additional Report by Catherine Jackson; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Alistair Bell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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