Throughout the testimony presented in the Jan. 6 select committee hearings, former President Donald Trumpwho may yet face criminal charges stemming from the emerging evidence, has sought to shape public perceptions about the Republican witnesses who have appeared.
During some of the testimony, such as Tuesday’s blockbuster appearance by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, Trump offered real-time responses on social media. During other parts, such as last Thursday’s appearance by former Justice Department officials who testified that Trump had asked them to “just say the election was corrupt,” the former president issued a series of statements attacking what he calls “the UNSELECT committee” itself.
Despite polls showing that a majority of Americans now believe Trump should be prosecuted by the Justice Department for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, the former president continues to assert that he did nothing wrong in regard to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“This is merely an attempt to stop a man that is leading in every poll, against both Republicans and Democrats by wide margins, from running again for the Presidency,” Trump said in a falsehood-laden, 12-page statement issued after the second day of testimony earlier this month. In fundraising emails, Trump has also repeatedly attacked the two Republican representatives on the committee as “Crazy Liz Cheney” and “Cryin’ Adam Kinzinger.”
As he did during the two impeachment hearings that took place during his presidency, Trump has gone after those who have offered testimony against him. In doing so, he has sometimes drastically revised his own past statements on those individuals, some of whom he had lavishly praised when they worked for him.
During his testimony to the select committee that was played during the first hearing on June 9, former Trump Attorney General William Barr testified that his department had investigated the former president’s claims of voter fraud and told him there was no evidence supporting Trump’s assertions.
Barr then described how Trump had “become detached from reality” about his election loss and had no “interest in what the actual facts were.” The idea that fraud had cost Trump the election was “bullshit” and “complete nonsense,” Barr testified.
Before the 2020 election, Trump lavished praise on Barr, calling him “a very straight shooter” and “a man with incredible integrity.”
Quickly responding to the June 9 hearing, during which portions of Barr’s testimony were shown, Trump called him “a coward” and a “weak and frightened Attorney General.”
Three days later, with Barr’s comments dominating news coverage, Trump used a different phrase to describe his former AG, referring to him as a RINO, which stands for “Republican in name only.”
“Former A.G. Bill Barr, a RINO if there ever was one, didn’t have the courage or stamina to go after voter fraud — Was afraid he was going to be impeached,” Trump wrote in a statement posted to his social media platform, Truth Social. “NO GUTS, NO GLORY!!!”
Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, also made a taped appearance during the first select committee hearing. As with Barr, her testimony to the committee was played for the country to see. The portion of her testimony that struck a nerve came when she was asked for her response to Barr’s Dec. 1, 2020, statement that there was no evidence of significant election fraud.
“It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying,” she said to the committee.
Trump has long praised Ivanka, who was the only child of his to formally join his administration. In a 2019 interview with the AtlanticTrump gushed over his daughter, saying he had considered her for the role of president of the World Bank. “She would’ve been great at that because she’s very good with numbers,” he said.
After seeing her during the select committee hearing, he quickly sought to downplay his daughter’s remarks.
“Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at, or studying, Election results. She had long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General (he sucked!),” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers testified in person before the select committee on June 21, recounting how Trump and his allies waged a pressure campaign to convince him to replace Arizona’s electors even though there was no evidence that voter fraud resulted in Joe Biden’s win there.
In anticipation of Bowers’s testimony that Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani called Bowers to try to convince him to overturn Arizona’s election results, the former president released a statement attacking him.
“Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers is the latest RINO to play along with the Unselect Committee,” Trump said in a statement.
Bowers testified that he told the then president and Giuliani, “You’re asking me to do something that is counter to my oath,” and said he refused to go along with the plot because he “didn’t want to be used as a pawn.” However, he later told the Associated Press that if Trump was the Republican nominee in 2024, he’d likely vote for him again.
A former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified under oath and in person Tuesday that Trump knew some of his supporters were armed before he directed them to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6; that she was told about Trump wrestling with his Secret Service detail for control of his limousine; that the former president threw dishes at the wall after learning Barr would not back his conspiracy theories about a stolen election; and that Meadows and Giuliani had inquired about presidential pardons.
As her testimony unfolded, Trump sought to downplay Hutchinson’s role in his administration despite the fact that her office was just steps away from his.
“I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and ‘leaker’), and when she requested to go with certain others of the team to Florida after my having served a full term in office, I personally turned her request down,” Trump wrote in a statement.
“Why did she want to go with us if she felt we were so terrible? I understand that she was very upset and angry that I didn’t want her to go, or be a member of the team. She is bad news,” he wrote.