Axios Sneak Peek
June 22, 2022
Welcome back to Sneak. Smart Brevity™ count: 956 words ... 3.5 minutes.
🏛️ Situational awareness: The Senate is voting to begin debate on the long-awaited legislative text for a bipartisan gun bill crafted in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting. Details.
1 big thing: Jan. 6 bombshells
The House Jan. 6 committee carefully laid out today the stunning extent of former President Trump and his allies' campaign to pressure election officials to act on their false claims of voter fraud, Axios' Alayna Treene writes.
The big picture: Yet again, it was conservative Republican witnesses — Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, top Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling and a host of Trump associates testifying behind closed doors — that provided the most damning testimony.
Four key takeaways
1. Trump's direct involvement.
- Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel revealed in a taped deposition that Trump personally connected her on a phone call with conservative lawyer John Eastman — the architect of the "alternate elector" scheme — to ask the RNC to help coordinate false sets of electors.
- Bowers testified he received a call from Trump and Rudy Giuliani urging him to replace Biden's electors in Arizona. "I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to," Bowers wrote in a personal journal at the time.
2. Key figures knew plan was illegal.
- Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified that Meadows, Giuliani and several of Giuliani's associates were in a meeting in which the White House counsel's office informed them the alternate elector scheme was "not legally sound."
3. GOP lawmakers implicated.
- Sen. Ron Johnson's (R-Wis.) chief of staff texted an aide for then-Vice President Mike Pence telling him that the senator needed to hand Pence an "alternate slate of electors" from Michigan and Wisconsin during the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress. The Pence aide replied, "Do not give that to him." Johnson told reporters today he was "basically unaware" of the exchange.
- Bowers testified that he received a call from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) urging him to support decertifying Arizona's electors.
4. Outlandish gambits.
- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the committee obtained text messages indicating Meadows wanted to send Georgia election investigators "a sh**load of POTUS stuff, including coins, actual autographed MAGA hats, etc."
- Michigan GOP chair Laura Cox testified that a Trump campaign representative told her fake Republican electors were planning to hide in the Michigan Capitol overnight to satisfy the requirement they meet in the state Senate chamber. "I told him in no uncertain terms that was insane and inappropriate," she said.
What to watch: Members of the committee are now discussing upending the hearing schedule, citing a flood of new evidence.
2. Part II: The human toll
Wandrea "Shaye" Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, former election workers in Georgia, recounted in devastating detail the racist harassment and death threats they received after being named in a Trump-backed conspiracy theory about vote-rigging:
"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. ... 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."— Shaye Moss at Jan. 6 hearing
"There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one."— Ruby Freeman in taped deposition
3. 🏛️ Charted: Lawmaker threats surge
Capitol Police investigations related to threats against members of Congress increased by 144% between the first year of former President Trump's term and the first year of President Biden's, Axios' Andrew Solender writes.
- In the first three months of this year alone, Capitol Police have opened cases into more than 1,800 threats.
4. 👀 Oz drops Trump branding
Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, is quietly shifting his campaign messaging away from former President Trump after narrowly winning his GOP primary, Andrew reports.
Why it matters: Oz's transition for the general election highlights the tightrope many Trump-endorsed candidates have attempted to walk — embrace the former president where it counts, while keeping him at arm's length in situations where his brand is toxic.
- That same strategy was employed by Virginia's Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, during his successful campaign last year.
Flashback: Trump was a heavy staple of Oz's primary campaign, showing up frequently in his ads run even before the former president endorsed him in mid-April.
- After the endorsement, Trump was a near-ubiquitous fixture in Oz's spots: even a series of six-second issue ads on guns, abortion and energy began with "endorsed by President Trump."
- Oz's Twitter account mentioned Trump more than 70 times between the endorsement on April 9 and primary day, May 17.
Flash forward: The ad Oz's campaign ran after winning the Republican nomination didn't mention or include footage of Trump.
- Oz's social media banners now say "Thank you, Pennsylvania," and feature a solo photo of him without Trump. His website no longer has a pop-up fundraiser appeal touting his Trump endorsement.
- Oz's Twitter bio no longer advertises him as the "Trump Endorsed Candidate for U.S. Senate," and he hasn't tweeted about Trump since May 17.
5. 💵 Greenback history
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