New Theme Emerges in Jan. 6 Hearings: 'Team Normal'

Campaign manager Bill Stepien says this team counseled Trump to avoid the fraud strategy
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2022 6:40 AM CDT
New Theme Emerges in Jan. 6 Hearings: 'Team Normal'
In this image from video released by the House Select Committee, Bill Stepien, former Trump campaign manager, speaks during an interview with the House select committee.   (House Select Committee via AP)

Day Two of the Jan. 6 hearings is in the books, and former President Trump considers the proceedings a "Kangaroo Court." Here's a look at other assessments and takeaways the morning after:

  • Big theme: The House panel on Tuesday brought forth witness after witness who said they told Trump he should not declare victory before the results were final and to stop making unproven claims of voter fraud, write Mike Lillis and Rebecca Beitsch at the Hill. Trump repeatedly rejected the advice. “My recommendation was to say that votes are still being counted. It’s too early to tell, too early to call the race,” final campaign manager Bill Stepien said in videotaped testimony. “He thought I was wrong. He told me so and, you know, that they were going to—he was going to go in a different direction." Aide Jason Miller: "There were suggestions by, I believe it was [former New York City] Mayor [Rudy] Giuliani, to go and declare victory and say that we’d won it outright,” Miller said. "I remember saying that … we should not go and declare victory until we had a better sense of the numbers.”

  • The teams: One phrase that emerged is "Team Normal." That's how Stepien described the group including himself vs. the one led by Giuliani (who was described by Miller as being at least a little drunk on election night). “We call them kind of my team and Rudy’s team,” Stepien said in videotaped testimony. “I didn’t mind being characterized as being part of Team Normal.” The panel "is hoping that the description of the two competing groups in Mr. Trump’s orbit is evidence that Mr. Trump made a choice—to listen to the group led by Mr. Giuliani instead of to those who ran his campaign and worked in his administration," writes Michael D. Shear at the New York Times.

  • The money: The panel made the case that Trump essentially fleeced MAGA, writes Domenico Montanaro at NPR. An investigator told the committee that the Trump camp raised a lot of money from supporters through his claims of voter fraud—$150 million in the first week after the election alone—but the money went to a new PAC for purely political purposes, not to court fights. "So not only was there the big lie; there was the big rip-off,” said Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “Donors deserve to know where their funds are really going.” Panel members have said this issue might be perhaps the only one that could sour Trump supporters on him. More here, including one inner circle member who collected $60,000 for speaking for 150 seconds on Jan. 6.
  • Strategy: "We are still at the beginning of the story," write Norman Eisen, Noah Bookbinder, and Fred Wertheimer at CNN. "But the two hearings so far make it clear that in the coming weeks we will receive a voluminously supported and tightly woven story of a carefully planned attack on American democracy—and a potential criminal conspiracy." (Read Trump's rebuttal to this line of thought.)
  • What's next: The panel's next hearings are 10am Wednesday and 1pm Thursday, per USA Today.
(More Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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