The Gist

 

Georgia has already drawn focus in the first two days of congressional hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and with key Georgia witnesses expected to testify, the Peach State is set to play a central role.

 

Why it Matters

 

When the January 6 House Select Committee got to work, Georgia was clearly on their minds.

As the bipartisan committee began to publicly present its findings last week, the Peach State received more than a mention. Key Georgia witnesses and testimony are lining up to back allegations against ex-President Donald Trump and his allies. 

Committee vice-chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) summed up the crux of the accusations against the former president as nothing less than a carefully planned coup attempt that resulted in the deadly attack on the Capitol. 

“Over multiple months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the Presidential election and prevent the transfer of Presidential power,” she said at the opening of the session. The bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the attack has honed in on the role of then-President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn 2020 election results in key states, including Georgia.

According to the George Washington University Center on Extremism, 825 individuals have been arrested in connection with the Capitol attack. Among them, 20 are from Georgia, hailing from 15 counties in the state. 

Georgia came up within the first half-hour of the first hearing last Thursday when Cheney, in her opening remarks, previewed evidence of Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. 

Georgia was also mentioned yesterday with the testimony of Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney Byung “BJay” Pak, who investigated and debunked claims by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani of fraudulent ballots being counted at the State Farm Arena.  

Hearings are expected to continue for several weeks.

BJay Pak testifying before the House Select Committee on June 13. Click the image to view his testimony. (CSPAN)

What’s Happening


Cheney said the House Select Committee would show that “Trump corruptly planned to replace the Attorney General of the United States so the U.S. Justice Department would spread his false stolen election claims.”

Part of the plot, Cheney said, involved promoting Justice Department lawyer Jeff Clark to the role of Acting Attorney General.

“President Trump wanted Mr. Clark to take a number of steps, including sending [a] letter to Georgia and five other states, saying the U.S. Department of Justice had ‘identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election.’ “

Cheney, who called the letter a “lie,” said the Department of Justice repeatedly told President Trump it found “no credible fraud that could impact the outcome of the election.”

While some details are known, the full extent of the former president’s pressure campaign, and the specific involvement of some Georgia officials and politicians, are still unclear.

President Joe Biden narrowly won the state in 2020 by 11,779 votes or 0.23%. Multiple recounts and audits affirmed that victory.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is now focusing a separate investigation on a Jan. 2, 2021 Trump phone call that allegedly pushed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to change the presidential election result.

Raffensperger, who is expected to testify before the committee on June 21, is running for reelection and last month fended off a primary challenge from GOP congressman Jody Hice who advanced false claims about the 2020 election. Similarly, Georgia Republicans holding statewide office also found themselves facing primary challenges in late May from Trump-aligned candidates who embraced election conspiracies. Trump-aligned Republicans were largely defeated at the primaries with two exceptions: GOP nominee for U.S. Senate Herschel Walker and Lt. Governor nominee Burt Jones. 

Jones, a state senator representing the Jackson area, was stripped of his committee assignment for advancing false election claims. Jones and other legislators endorsed multiple efforts to overturn the 2020 election including signing onto failed lawsuits and letters to officials. The Washington Post last week reported that Jones was a “fake elector,” part of a plot to submit alternate, pro-Trump electors to recast Georgia’s electoral votes.  


Georgia witnesses

 

Day one of the hearings featured Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards. Edwards is a Georgia native from the Atlanta area and is a University of Georgia graduate. Day two’s witnesses included BJay Pak, the former state representative and ex-US District Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Pak resigned from his post on Jan. 4, 2021, two days before the Capitol attack. Pak has previously told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2021 that he had been told to resign if he did not publicly state that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia.  

“The FBI interviewed individuals … and determined that nothing irregular happened during the counting, and the allegations by Mr. Giuliani were false,” Pak said. 

Along with Raffensperger, Deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Sterling is also scheduled to testify June 21.

 

Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards testifies before the select committee on January 9. Click the image to view her testimony. (CSPAN).

What’s next?

 

The next hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET Thursday, June 16. (Note: Wednesday morning's planned hearing has been postponed the committee announced Tuesday).

Hearings can be viewed on major television networks, except for Fox News. 

Hearings will also be live-streamed in full on C-SPAN, the Select Committee's YouTube channel, and PBS’s YouTube channel.  


Join the Conversation

What do you want to know about Georgia's connections to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol? Share your thoughts: Alessandro@stateaffairs.com or on Twitter: @alemzs