Updated Jun 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Jan 6. panel witnesses recount post-election threats of violence

Photo of Wandrea Shaye Moss speaking
Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Georgia election worker Wandrea’ ArShaye "Shaye" Moss testified Tuesday that the threats of violence she faced in the aftermath of the 2020 election "turned my life upside down" as she and her mother Ruby Freeman struggled to escape unwanted visibility spurred on by attacks from former President Trump and his allies.

Why it matters: At the Jan. 6 select committee's fourth hearing, multiple election officials spoke about the intense harassment and protests targeting them in the aftermath of the election.

What they're saying: After then-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani released a video claiming Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman were colluding to commit voter fraud, the two Black women became targets of threats and hateful messages, many of which were racist, Moss testified.

  • "A lot of threats wishing death upon me. Telling me that, you know, I'll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, 'Be glad it's 2020 and not 1920."
  • At one point, Trump supporters showed up at her grandmother's home and attempted to push their way through the door, Moss said.
  • "This woman is my everything. I've never even heard her or seen her cry ever in my life, and she called me screaming at the top of her lungs ... [They claimed] they were coming in to make a citizen's arrest. They needed to find me and my mom."
  • "I felt horrible," said Moss, who had earlier told the committee she pursued her job in part because she recognized that voting hadn't been an option for her forebears.
  • "It's turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don't transfer calls. I don't want anyone knowing my name," she said. "I've gained about 60 pounds. I just don't do nothing anymore. I don't want to go anywhere. I second-guess everything that I do."
  • "It's affected my life in a major way. In every way. All because of lies. For me doing my job. Same thing I've been doing forever."

Her mother had to leave her home for two months after the FBI issued a warning about her safety being compromised. In a clip aired at the hearing, Freeman told the committee that she has lost her "sense of security."

  • "Now I won't even introduce myself by my name anymore. I get nervous when I bump into someone I know in the grocery store who says my name. I'm worried about who is listening. I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders .... I've lost my name and I've lost my reputation."

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said he and his family also faced a barrage of violent threats, including sexual harassment and a home break-in, after he refused to aid in former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. "My email, my cell phone was doxed and I was getting texts all over the country and then eventually my wife started getting texts," Raffensperger said.

  • "Hers typically came in as sexualized texts which were disgusting ... They started going after her I think just to probably put pressure on me: 'Why don't you quit and walk away.'"
  • "And then some people broke into my daughter-in-law's home," he said. "My son has passed and she's a widow and has two kids and so we're very concerned about her safety also."

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) fought back tears as he testified that it is now a "pattern in our lives" to worry about what will happen on Saturdays because so many different groups have set up shop outside his home and caused public disturbances with their protests.

  • They've brought video panel trucks to blare claims that Bowers is "a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt politician," left literature on his property and argued with Bowers and his neighbors, he said.
  • In one incident, a man who had a pistol verbally threatened his neighbor, Bowers added.
  • "We had a daughter who was gravely ill who was upset by what was happening outside and my wife was and is a valiant person, very strong."
  • "It was disturbing," he said as he struggled to speak evenly. "It was disturbing."

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting implementation manager, recounted a call he received from the project manager at Dominion Voting Systems after the election. "She was oddly audibly shaken ... and informed me about a young contractor they had who had been receiving threats from a video that had been posted by some QAnon supporters," he said.

  • He later searched the man's name, a first-generation American, and found a tweet which he called "the straw that broke the camel's back."
  • "It said, 'You committed treason, may god have mercy on your soul' and a slowly twisting gif of a noose," he added, noting that the tweet and a profound impact on him, it pushed him to make a public statement calling on Trump to condemn the threats.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said while protests were underway outside her home, "The uncertainty of that was what was the fear. Like, are they coming with guns? Are they going to attack my house?"

  • "Donald Trump did not care about the threats of violence," said Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). "He did not condemn them. He made no efforts to stop them. He went forward with his fake allegations anyway.”

Worth noting: Cheney embraced Bowers after his testimony.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

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