Then-President Donald Trump’s effort to steal a second term inflicted a deep emotional toll on anyone who stood in its way, from state House speakers to on-the-ground election workers.
On Tuesday, the congressional Jan. 6 Committee brought those experiences to the forefront, highlighting the non-stop — and increasingly destructive — tactics of a candidate hell bent on stealing an election.
‘What Will Happen On Saturdays?’
Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House, was first up on Tuesday, and detailed his repeated refusals to entertain the notion that the legislature had the power to summarily ignore the will of the people and overturn the election results.
But as his refusals piled up, so too did the pressure on Bowers: Protesters, including the so-called “QAnon Shaman” who later played a leading role in the Capitol attack, occupied the Arizona legislative building as armed men stood outside. Rudy Giuliani, who made repeated unsuccessful overtures to Bowers, now appealed to his partisanship: “Aren’t we all Republicans here? I’d think we’d get a better reception,” Bowers recalled him saying. Bowers’ office received thousands of emails, voicemails and texts, leaving staff effectively unable to communicate.
His experience was mirrored in that of Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R), who the committee said received daily voicemails from Giuliani and fellow Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis in the last week of November 2020, and, after he told them to stop calling, was met with in-person protests at his home and office advertised by Trump ally Steve Bannon.
As time wore on, the protests grew closer to home for Bowers, too. He said that “up until even recently, it is the new pattern, or a pattern in our lives, to worry what will happen on Saturdays.” Protesters, Bowers said, have come by his home with video panel trucks and loudspeakers, referring to him as a pedophile and threatening him and his neighbors. At one point, he described an armed man wearing “Three Percenters” militia group attire threatening his neighbor.
Separately, Bowers described his gravely ill daughter “who was upset by what was happening outside.” His daughter, Kacey Rae Bowers, died on Jan. 28, 2021.
Bowers said his faith allowed him to maintain his oath to the United States and Arizona constitutions. But the stress he was under at the time was reflected in a journal entry: “It is painful to have friends who have been such a help to me turn on me with such rancor.”
‘All Because Of Lies’
Perhaps no state received more attention in Trump’s election theft effort than Georgia, where the Trump campaign used a misleadingly spliced video of an Atlanta vote-counting center to falsely accuse poll workers there of engaging in a massive voter fraud scheme.
Shaye Moss, one of those workers, appeared before the committee Tuesday. Her mother, Ruby Freeman, also appeared in video testimony. Freeman and Moss worked together, and Freeman was singled out by Trump multiple times in his call demanding that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “find” the votes necessary for him to win the state.
Moss and Freeman’s lives were turned upside down by the misleadingly edited video, which Giuliani showed to the Georgia legislature. Right-wing blogs soon used it to identify Moss and Freeman by name, leading to a relentless harassment campaign by Trump supporters. At one point, Moss testified, her grandmother answered the door of her home only to be overtaken by people demanding to know where Moss and Freeman were, saying they were there to carry out a citizen’s arrest.
Freeman, in her video testimony, said she’d stopped wearing shirts with the name “Lady Ruby,” which she’d previously used to advertise her small business, lest she be recognized in public. “I’ve lost my name and I’ve lost my reputation, I’ve lost my sense of security — all because a group of people starting with Number Forty-Five and his ally Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen,” Freeman said.
Moss, for her part, told the committee Tuesday that “I haven’t been anywhere at all” since being targeted by Trump. “I just don’t do nothing anymore, I don’t want to go anywhere, I second-guess everything that I do. It’s affected my life in a major way, in every way, all because of lies. For me doing my job, the same thing I’ve been doing forever.”
That harassment campaign went up to the top of the state’s election apparatus, with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who also testified Tuesday, telling the committee that he and his wife’s cell phone numbers were doxxed after the 2020 election, with both of them receiving texts from around the country, including “disgusting,” sexualized texts to his wife.
“They started going after her, I think, just to probably put pressure on me — ‘Why don’t you just quit and walk away?’” he recalled, before describing how his harassers eventually started going after his widowed daughter-in-law — the wife of his late son — who has two kids.
“Some people broke into my daughter-in-law’s home,” Raffensperger said. “We were very concerned about her safety, also.”
Raffensperger said he refused to quit because “sometimes moments require you to stand up and just take the shots, if you’re doing your job.”
But Moss’s testimony pointed to a broader, growing issue in American election administration: “There is no permanent election worker or supervisor in that video that’s still there,” she said, referring to the Trump campaign’s efforts to baselessly allege a conspiracy with the misleadingly edited footage. That includes Moss herself, who left the job.