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Takeaways from fourth day of Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot hearings

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An audio recording of a phone call between former U.S. President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is played during the fourth of eight planned public hearings of the U.S. House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 At

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By Richard Cowan and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The fourth day of the hearings in the U.S. Congress on the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters featured testimony by election officials from the states of Arizona and Georgia.

Here are five takeaways from the fourth of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Jan. 6’s hearings this month:

TRUMP CLAIM REJECTED

About an hour before the hearing started, Trump in a statement attacked Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers, a Republican who had been a Trump backer in the 2020 election. Trump lost Arizona to Biden.

Trump said that during a November phone call, Bowers “told me that the election was rigged and that I won Arizona.”

Bowers, speaking in forceful tones, rebutted Trump’s statement.

“I did have a conversation with the president. That certainly isn’t it,” Bowers told the committee. “Anyone, anywhere, anytime who said that I said the election was rigged, that would not be true.”

GIULIANI: THEORIES BUT NO EVIDENCE

Bowers also recounted attempts to get state legislators to hold public hearings into fraudulent voting.

Bowers said that during a meeting with officials in Phoenix after Biden was certified winning Arizona, Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani said, “We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence” to prove election fraud.

An attorney for Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I did not feel that the evidence, in its absence, merited a hearing and I didn’t want to be used as a pawn,” Bowers testified. He added, “You’re asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath,” he said he told Giuliani.

At another point in the hearing, the committee played video of Giuliani saying Trump’s camp had proof of illegal immigrants and dead people casting ballots in Arizona.

Witnesses said they never received evidence backing up those allegations.

ELECTION WORKER TARGETED

Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, told the committee she faced repeated threats after Trump and his associates accused her of participating in a cover-up of the “stolen” election.

“A lot of threats, wishing death upon me, telling me that I’ll be in jail with my mother … Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920. … A lot of them (the threats) were racist. A lot of them were just hateful,” Moss said.

She said Trump used her name 18 times on a call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “I felt horrible. I felt like it was all my fault,” she said. She regretted having decided to be an elections worker.

TRUMP CRIMES?

One outstanding question is whether the select committee after the hearings will recommend criminal charges against Trump for his role in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

In Tuesday’s hearing, the committee expanded its case about possible criminal activity, such as conspiracy to defraud.

It presented testimony from Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who recounted a conversation with Trump.

McDaniel said Trump mostly turned the call over to John Eastman, a Trump adviser, who talked about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather “contingent electors” in states where Trump was challenging results. Committee members have characterized them as “fake” slates of electors.

“I think more just helping them reach out and assemble them, but my understanding is the campaign did take the lead and we just were helping them in that role,” McDaniel said in describing the RNC’s role on behalf of Trump.

Representative Adam Schiff, a Democratic member of the panel, quoted federal judge David Carter as saying Trump likely violated multiple federal laws, including conspiracy to defraud the United States.

DELIVERING FAKE ELECTORS?

The committee showed texts from an aide to Republican Senator Ron Johnson to an aide to then-Vice President Mike Pence saying that the senator wanted to hand-deliver a fake elector certificate to Pence.

Asked for a comment, Johnson spokesperson Alexa Henning referred to a tweet she wrote:

“The senator had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office,” Henning said on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR).

U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, chairperson of the Jan. 6 committee, said “pressuring public servants into betraying their oath was a fundamental part of the playbook” to secure a Trump victory.

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