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- The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack voted unanimously to subpoena former President Donald Trump.
- The Oct. 13 hearing could be its last as the panel assembles a final report on its key evidence and findings.
- Before Election Day, Trump planned to declare victory before all the votes were counted.
In its final hearing before the midterm elections, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol made its case that former President Donald Trump knew he had lost, lied to his followers about it, and tried every possible device to overturn the results of a legitimate election.
At the hearing’s end, the committee passed a resolution to subpoena Trump.
"We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion, and every American is entitled to those answers," said committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.
In the two-hour plus session, committee members took turns describing new details culled from video footage, thousands of emails, texts and other documents, some obtained from the Secret Service since the last hearing in July. They described Trump’s plan in the days, even months, before Election Day to declare victory regardless of the actual count.
Perhaps the most unexpected revelation was Trump’s Nov. 11, 2020, order to immediately withdraw all U.S. troops from Somalia and Afghanistan before Jan. 20, 2021, President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
"These are the highly consequential actions of a president who knows his term will shortly end," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.
The order was never followed.
The hearing contrasted Trump’s response to the violence at the Capitol with that of congressional leaders on the scene. Trump made no effort to connect with security forces during the rampage. Video showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer making calls to muster reinforcements from the National Guard and various police forces.
The committee painted a picture of a man hyperfocused on rousing his base with the false narrative of a stolen election, intent on pressuring state officials, the Justice Department and, ultimately, Congress to break the law so he could stay in office.
As early as July, according to what Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale told the investigators, Trump talked about declaring victory regardless of the actual votes.
The committee showed an Oct. 31 memo from a member of Trump’s inner circle, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, suggesting language for a Trump speech.
"We had an election today — and I won," Fitton’s memo suggested.
Fitton followed up with an email to Trump special assistant Molly Michael on Nov. 3, saying "just talked to him about the draft below."
It was so likely that Trump would prematurely declare victory, that Vice President Mike Pence’s counsel Greg Jacob described how he mapped out a strategy to keep Pence at arm’s length from anything Trump might say.
As results were still being tallied, Trump falsely tried to claim victory.
"We will win this," Trump said. "As far as I’m concerned, we already have."
About a week after the election, then White House communications director Alyssa Farah said she walked into the Oval Office. Trump was watching Biden on the television.
"He said, do you believe I lost to this effing guy?" Farah told investigators.
U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told of a meeting when Trump cast a foreign policy decision as no longer his problem.
"He says words to the effect of, ‘Yeah, we lost. We need to let that issue go to the next guy,’" Milley said. "Meaning, President Biden."
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told how she asked Meadows if Trump thought he had lost. And Meadows told her that Trump did.
"He said, ‘A lot of times, he will tell me that he lost, but he wants to keep fighting it,’" Hutchinson said.
The committee gave example after example of how Trump ignored the facts his top officials told him to his face. There were allegations of fraud in Detroit and Antrim County, Michigan, of more absentee votes cast in Pennsylvania than ballots requested. All of them were false. The committee juxtaposed officials giving Trump the facts, and him repeating the myths to his supporters.
On the allegations of vote switching in Dominion voting machines:
Former Attorney General Bill Barr: "I told him it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time on that."
Trump, nine days later: "We have a company that's very suspect. Its name is Dominion. With a turn of a dial or the change of a chip, you could press a button for Trump and the vote goes to Biden."
On the story of a suitcase of ballots in Georgia:
Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue: "I said, no, sir, there is no suitcase. You can watch that video over and over. There is no suitcase. There is a wheeled bin where they carry the ballots. That's just how they move ballots around that facility. There is nothing suspicious about that at all."
Trump, 10 days later: "Election officials pulled boxes — Democrats — and suitcases of ballots out from under a table. Also saw on television, totally fraudulent."
As committee member Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., put it, "Trump maliciously repeated this nonsense to a wide audience over and over again. His intent was to deceive."
PolitiFact staff writer Tori Gantz contributed to this report.
See sources in story.