Harris’s presence indicates he was more closely involved in efforts to nullify the 2020 election results than previously known, making him one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress as the president tried desperately to cling to the power, despite being told by White House and Justice Department attorneys that there was no evidence of widespread election fraud.
“In the weeks following the election, the White House has worked closely with President Trump’s allies in Congress to spread his false claims and encourage the public to fight the Jan. 6 result,” said Representative Stephanie Murphy (D -Fla.), who along with Representative Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) presided over Tuesday’s hearing. “We know that the president has met several members to discuss Jan. 6 well ahead of the joint session.”
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Murphy said White House visitor logs showed the president had a “private meeting with Republican members of Congress on Dec. 21,” a meeting that also included Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump attorney. Rudy Giuliani were present. The meeting had previously been disclosed in then news coverage and more recent court documents.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) had sent an email to Meadows to set up the meeting, according to the committee, with the subject line “White House meeting December 21 regarding January 6.” In the email, Murphy noted, Brooks said he hadn’t asked anyone to join him in the “January 6 effort” because he believed “only citizens can exert the necessary influence over senators and congressmen to to participate in this fight against mass voter fraud and election theft.”
Witnesses told the Jan. 6 committee that the meeting focused in part on “the role of the vice president in the counting of the electoral votes,” Murphy said. The participants discussed what has become known as “the Eastman theory”: that Pence could unilaterally decide which electoral votes refuse or accept to keep Trump in power. Trump and his attorney John Eastman have repeatedly pressured Pence to either discard results in disputed states or delay proceedings so that the disputed states can reexamine the results and potentially send alternative voters to Trump — plans whose lawyers are the White House have stated that they considered illegal.
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Murphy said requests for clemency came from Brooks and “other members of Congress who attended this meeting.” The Jan. 6 committee previously named five Republicans who reportedly asked for Trump’s pardon, even though Harris was not with them.
Jan 6 panel names five Republicans who reportedly asked for Trump’s pardon
Harris did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Former Justice Department attorney Richard Donoghue testified last month that, according to notes he took from the conversation, Trump told him on December 27 that the Justice Department should “just say the election is corrupt + the rest to me and the R [Republican] congressmen.”
Harris, despite previously saying he would stick to a six-term limit, is aiming for a seventh term in Congress this year. He is unopposed in the July 19 primary in Maryland, but two Democrats are vying to defeat him in November, each of whom called Harris a “traitor” when his involvement in meetings with Trump was revealed on Jan. 6.
“Yesterday we learned that my opponent, Andy Harris, in the White House colluded with Trump to nullify a free and fair election,” Heather Mizeur, the former Maryland House delegate for Takoma Park, who spent nearly $2 million has picked up in her race, tweeted on Wednesday morning. “He is a traitor to our country and with your help I will release him in November.”
Harris “dishonored his office, broke his oath and chose to pursue power over the rule of law,” Dave Harden, a former Foreign Service officer who hoped to defeat Mizeur in the Democratic primaries, tweeted on Wednesday. “He has put us to shame.”
Along with Harris, Representatives Brian Babin (Tex.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.), Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Scott Perry (Pa.) attended the December 21 White House meeting personal. Republican delegate Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) was also there.
In a taped interview in March, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Meadows aide, said several other members who were not physically present called in during the course of the meeting. She said she was not at the meeting all the time, but that during the parts she witnessed, “a few members expressed their views and thoughts on January 6, what they thought the role of the vice president might be.” may be,” according to a transcript of her interview in court documents.
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“They felt he had the authority to … send votes back to the United States or voters back to the United States, more along the lines of the Eastman theory,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said that as far as she can remember, none of the lawmakers disagreed, according to the transcript.
Harris objected to the election results hours after the crowd of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and had a heated verbal altercation with a Democrat on the floor of the House in the early morning of Jan. 7, prompting colleagues to intervene.
Democrats were eager to defeat Harris in November, especially after the Maryland General Assembly drafted a new district map that would have allowed Democrats to win in Harris’s Eastern Shore-anchored 1st district. However, those hopes were largely dashed when a Maryland judge found that card was an illegal gerrymander and ordered that a new one be drawn.
Now, under the final map, the district is solidly red and political observers consider Harris to be safe in November.