After more than a year and a half of investigating, and just weeks before Republicans take control of the House, it’s finally here: The January 6 Select Committee’s final report.
Much of the committee’s understanding of the insurrection, including its most dramatic discoveries about Trump’s behavior that day, was unveiled in a series of hearings. But the report helps deepen our understanding of key episodes in Trump’s election-theft effort.
Here are five aspects of the report that stood out to us. For more, check out our breaking-news liveblog from Thursday night, when the report was released.
Fresh Evidence The Fake Electors Scheme Came From The Top
As the Trump campaign barreled past all barriers in its quest to reverse the election result, it began to look towards Mike Pence as the “arbiter” who could deliver it from defeat.
The idea that Biden electors in states Trump lost could be replaced with fake, “alternate” electors that would vote for Trump had been kicking around the White House for weeks, but it was given legal heft by various Trumpworld attorneys, including Ken Chesebro and John Eastman, who drafted memos to put the scheme in motion.
Per the report, Eastman and Trump spoke over the phone for 23 minutes on Dec. 23, 2020 — the same day that the right-wing attorney drafted a memo outlining the theory.
Footnotes to the report say that Eastman also spoke with Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn the same day, and also had lengthy calls with Chesebro.
The National GOP Was Neck-Deep In The Fake Electors Scheme
The report shows just how deeply involved the national Republican Party was in Trump’s scheme to slot in fake electors.
In one sense, the party’s involvement was obvious from the start: proposed electors tend to be state party officials, lobbyists, and others who have influence within the party.
But the report provides new details which tie the scheme to national party leadership.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, for example, personally gave Trump an update on the fake elector effort on the evening of Dec. 14, the day that the slates all voted.
Her involvement was previewed on Monday, when the committee released the executive summary, which stated that Trump “solicited the RNC’s assistance with the scheme. McDaniel agreed to provide that assistance.”
The full report goes further. McDaniel’s message purportedly said that “President Trump’s electors voted” both in “states that he won” and also in six “contested states.” It’s a funny formulation — both a cop to Trump’s ego and a partial admission that the effort was all a sham.
Trump’s executive assistant replied to McDaniel 101 minutes later, the report says. “It’s in front of him!” she wrote.
A Trump Aide Allegedly Had A Wild-Even-For-The-Trump-Team Plan To Throw Out Votes Due To ‘Socialism’
Vince Haley, deputy assistant to the president for policy, planning, and speechwriting, appears to have laid out the Trumpian view of reversing the election result in the starkest terms.
“Imagine if every red state legislature slated zero electors. It would reveal that we are a red country,” Haley suggested, per the committee. “To do this we would have to jack this to the nth degree as a battle of tribes.”
The panel found that Haley went further, arguing flatly that Trump didn’t really need “election fraud” as an argument to appoint Trump, and not Biden, electors.
Rather, all they needed was the argument that doing so would prevent socialism, Haley posited.
“[I]ndependent of the fraud — or really along with that argument — Harrisburg [Pennsylvania], Madison [Wisconsin], and Lansing [Michigan] do not have to sit idly by and submit themselves to rule by Beijing and Paris,” the panel cites Haley as saying less than a week after the election.
Channeling both the political movement and also the technology of the early 20th century, Haley also proposed that “radio hosts” go out and “rally the grassroots to apply pressure to the weak kneed legislators in those states.”
“Yes!” replied Johnny McEntee, the White House director of personnel, according to the committee. “Let’s find the contact info for all these people now.”
Haley then sent McEntee names and phone numbers of state legislators in swing states, the report says. The names were “…for POTUS to invite them down for a WH meeting,” he purportedly explained.
Trump later called several of the legislators.
New Evidence Team Trump Knew Rudy Giuliani And Sidney Powell’s Claims Were Bunk
One new tidbit in the report comes to us from Hope Hicks.
The day after Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani held their infamous RNC press conference (the one at which Giuliani had his unfortunate hair dye incident), the White House held a call with Powell to discuss some of her theories, the report says. Powell repeated her ideas about how Dominion voting machines were under the sway of dead Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.
Hicks recalled to the committee that, while Powell was speaking, Trump muted his speakerphone and laughed at Powell. “This does sound crazy, doesn’t it?” he remarked to the room.
But, the committee points out, he quickly threw himself into boosting that same conspiracy theory.
Later, while Giulani barnstormed the country with overheated claims about the Biden campaign corralling the dead to defeat Trump in a corpse-ridden voter fraud scheme, the insiders in the Trump admin were snickering.
Eric Herschmann, a White House attorney, and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows laughed at Rudy’s claims of ten thousand or more “supposed dead people voting in GA,” with both deadpanning that it “is not accurate.”
Meadows commented that his son had identified, via obituaries, 12 voters who died pre-election but had ballots tabulated, leading Herschmann to suggest, seemingly in jest, that the younger Meadows help Giuliani identify the other ten thousand.
That same claim about ten thousand dead Georgia voters is the one Eastman included by incorporation in a federal lawsuit, after he himself also admitted that the claim was inaccurate.
Herschmann and Meadows may have been in on the joke, so to speak; unlike Eastman, however, they didn’t stake a potential perjury claim on it.
No Mention, Yet, Of Ginni Thomas, Clarence Thomas
Politico’s Kyle Cheney notes that Ginni Thomas does not appear to be in the report. Neither, for that matter, does Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
You might recall that Ginni Thomas texted copiously with Meadows in the weeks after the election. She also tried to whip up support among state lawmakers for Trump’s bogus election fraud claims. And while these efforts may have simply been zealous activism, Trump’s lawyers mused privately about Clarence Thomas’s orientation toward their cause in a way that led to speculation they had a source close to the justice himself.
“I understand that there is a heated fight underway” within the Supreme Court, Eastman wrote in one December email.
Chesebro wrote in another message that he believed Thomas would be the most likely to “issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt.”
“I think I agree with this,” Eastman replied to Chesebro.
Ginni Thomas ultimately testified before the panel in September. But she apparently didn’t make the cut for the final report and, so far, transcripts of or notes on her testimony have not been released. Whether that’s because she had nothing to add, or for some other reason, remains unclear. It’s also possible that we’ll get additional materials from the committee over the next few days.