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Takeaways: Trump’s Mind ‘Made Up,’ The Giuliani Factor

Stepien said his group of advisers was dubbed “team normal.” Another White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, said that the theories of fraud — including Powell’s assertions that voting machines were rigged to switch votes — were “nuts.”

Former Attorney General William Barr, who  at the time that there was no evidence behind Trump’s fraud claims, said the president was increasingly becoming “detached from reality.”

A MONTHSLONG CAMPAIGN

Trump’s claims of fraud did not start after election day. The committee showed clips where Trump previewed his strategy in speeches throughout his 2020 campaign. In August of that year, he told an audience that fraud was the only way he would lose.

Stepien told the committee that he and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy had met with Trump in the summer of 2020 and made a two-pronged case for why he should stop criticizing mail-in voting. He and McCarthy told Trump that he was leaving “a lot to chance” and that there were GOP party workers on the ground who could help get mail-in votes for Trump.

McCarthy, who has declined to cooperate with the Jan. 6 panel despite a subpoena, was “echoing the same argument,” Stepien said.

“But the president’s mind was made up,” Stepien said.

THE ‘RED MIRAGE’

Chris Stirewalt, a former political editor for Fox News Channel, testified in person at the hearing. Stirewalt made the election night call that President Joe Biden won Arizona – a moment that prompted “anger and disappointment” in Trump’s inner sanctum at the White House, Miller said.

Stirewalt explained that the network, along with others, had expected that there would be a so-called “red mirage” at the beginning of the evening as in-person Republican votes came in, and many of the mail-in votes that would be counted later on would lean Democratic. He noted it happens every election.

Trump had not only exploited that pattern to make false claims of fraud, but contributed to it in his campaign to call mail-in voting into question.

“We had gone to pains, and I’m proud of the pains, we went to, to make sure that we were informing viewers that this was going to happen because the Trump campaign and the president had made it clear that they were going to try to exploit this anomaly,” Stirewalt said.

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