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Several former White House insiders have been lauded for telling the committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021 that they warned then-President Donald Trump that his claims about the November 2020 election were outlandish.
Sure, it’s great that these people – including then-Attorney General Bill Bar, White House attorney Eric Herschmann and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien – said they told the president and his team that their election conspiracy theories were bonkers, and that Trump needed to concede his electoral defeat. They testified under penalty of perjury after they had been subpoenaed by the committee.
It would have been far better if they had forcefully and clearly told the American people that the claims made by Trump, before and after the election, were not only untrue, but also outlandish in many cases.
By not speaking out earlier, they allowed the so-called “big lie” that the election was fraudulent and that Joe Biden was not the confirmed winner to take hold.
Recent polling found that a significant percentage of voters believe the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. A whopping 70 percent of Republicans don’t believe Biden was legitimately elected president, even though numerous recounts, audits and court challenges have confirmed Biden’s victory.
This continued denial not only has serious repercussions for the next presidential election, in 2024. It threatens to erode the underpinnings of our entire electoral system.
If a large number of people do not believe in the integrity of our elections, they will use that belief to question any outcomes they do not support.
“I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit,” Barr said in pre-recorded video shown by the committee last Monday. “And I didn’t want to be a part of it. And that’s one of the reasons that went into me deciding to leave when I did.”
Barr, who told the committee he was concerned that the president had become detached from reality, did resign as attorney general in December 2020, but he had only tepidly denounced Trump’s claims of election fraud before his resignation. In fact, his resignation letter praised Trump rather than raise any concerns about the president’s false claims or detachment from reality.
Stepien – who told the committee he divided Trump’s advisors into “Team Normal” and “Team Crazy” following the 2020 election – also privately shared his misgivings about the Trump team’s stolen election delusions. But, he didn’t share them with a wider audience because he didn’t want to anger Trump, The Washington Post reported.
Even Trump’s son-in-law, and advisor, Jared Kushner told the committee that he told the president he disagreed with theories and strategies pushed by Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Guiliani.
Yet, Trump continues, even now, to push such debunked theories, continuing to falsely claim that he won the 2020 election.
The testimony shared by the House Committee is important in detailing the lying and dysfunction of the Trump White House and campaign. But, it may have saved the country a lot of grief – and violence – if people like Barr, Stepien and Kushner had spoken the full truth a lot earlier.