Your Source for NPR News & Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

A recap of the second hearing held by the House Jan. 6 committee

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The House select January 6 committee says former President Trump misled campaign donors by using election lies to raise a quarter of $1 billion. This after he lost the election in 2020. Here's California Democrat and committee member Zoe Lofgren.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ZOE LOFGREN: So not only was there the big lie, there was the big rip-off.

MARTIN: Top Trump advisers told the select committee they repeatedly tried to steer Trump away from his efforts at undermining the democratic election. But NPR's congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales says he still raised millions off his election lies.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: We know about all this from campaign finance filings. And it was in the open Trump was sending dozens of fundraising emails to supporters like small donors as he pressed these election lies. At the time, NPR reported that almost none of that money was going to legal fights tied to the election. And during the hearing, Congresswoman Lofgren argued Trump shifted to a stop the steal operation after his loss to keep the money flowing. And this was part of a larger grifting operation.

MARTIN: OK. Explain what that means. What was the larger grifting operation?

GRISALES: Right. The panel said money was going to a Trump super PAC - and that is now his main political operation - and to pay down campaign debt and some expenses that included fees to the Trump Hotel. Lofgren also said after the hearing that Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.'s fiancee, made $60,000 for appearance fees for speaking at the rally before the attack.

MARTIN: We should say, that was a speech that was only 2 1/2 minutes long, right?

GRISALES: Exactly. Yes. Chairman Bennie Thompson told me details about this came from public and internal tax revenue records. And while details so far are limited, more is expected to be shared in future hearings and their final report.

MARTIN: OK, so many more questions in there. But let's pivot for a second because yesterday, we also learned a lot more about how Trump aides were trying to convince him to stop lying about the election. What emerged?

GRISALES: Right. On the night of the election, campaign manager Bill Stepien said he told the president not to claim victory.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL STEPIEN: Ballots were still being counted. Ballots were still going to be counted for days. And it was far too early to be making any proclamation like that.

GRISALES: We also learned from other testimony that former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said Trump should claim victory but apparently was intoxicated, a claim Giuliani disputes. In the end, Trump did falsely claim that victory. Former Attorney General Bill Barr said he met with Trump on three separate occasions to lay out how the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread election fraud. And in their final meeting, Barr said Trump made baseless claims that ballots were being manipulated.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAM BARR: I was somewhat demoralized because I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with - he's become detached from reality.

MARTIN: ok. But did Bill Barr explain why, if he believed this, he kept supporting the president publicly?

GRISALES: Right. This was the case for many Trump officials at the time. But Barr did say he spoke to a reporter in the midst of all this and then quit as it became clear nothing was changing.

MARTIN: So the House committee is alleging that Donald Trump used the big lie to take money from his supporters, small-donation givers. Is this a crime, Claudia?

GRISALES: Right. That remains to be seen. Thompson told reporters last night he doesn't see the panel issuing a criminal referral for Trump. But Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney quickly tweeted those discussions are still ongoing. In essence, the panel has laid out such a recommendation in court filings and these hearings even if they don't do it formally. That said, Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters yesterday he's watching these hearings. And ultimately, that decision to pursue a criminal case against Trump is in the Justice Department's hands.

MARTIN: NPR's Claudia Grisales, thank you.

GRISALES: Thank you much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.