Trump has become ‘detached from reality’, says former justice chief


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Washington (AFP) – Former US President Donald Trump lost touch with reality as he flooded his aides with conspiracy theories about voter fraud following his election loss to Joe Biden, his top enforcement official says laws in videotaped testimony revealed on Monday.

Appearing in pre-recorded deposition at a congressional hearing into the 2021 assault on the US Capitol, former attorney general Bill Barr described his then-boss as having no interest in the facts who debunked his groundless story.

“I was demoralized because I was thinking, boy…he’s cut himself off from reality if he really believes this stuff,” Barr told the House committee to investigate the insurrection of the January 6 from Trump supporters.

“When I went in there and told him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never any indication of interest in the actual facts,” said Barr, who compared responding to Trump’s flurry of false allegations with the “whack-a-mole” game.

The panel is holding six hearings throughout June to lay out its argument that the riot at US Democracy headquarters in Washington was the culmination of a seven-step plot by Trump and his entourage to undo his defeat against Biden.

Trump ignored repeated warnings from top aides against the false claim that the November 2020 election was stolen, according to testimony released by the panel.

“We will tell the story of how Donald Trump lost the election – and knew he had lost the election – and in the wake of his defeat decided to lead an attack on our democracy,” the president said. Committee Democrat, Bennie Thompson, in his opening remarks.

The second of six scheduled hearings showed video accounts of the former president’s advisers, including Barr and campaign manager Bill Stepien, saying they repeatedly advised him not to declare victory on election night because he hadn’t won — but Trump went ahead anyway.

“He thought I was wrong, he told me, and they were going to go a different direction,” Stepien said.

“Distant Conspiracies”

Thompson’s deputy on the panel, Republican lawmaker Liz Cheney, said Trump chose to listen to the advice of “apparently drunk” former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani “to simply pretend that he had won, and insisting that the vote count stop – to falsely claim it was all fraudulent.”

Trump began pushing what became known as his “big lie” around 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2020, prematurely declaring victory on election night that he ultimately lost to Biden by seven million voice.

Former US President Donald Trump prematurely and falsely declared victory on election night November 4, 2020 Drew Angerer GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

Barr said in his testimony that Trump claimed major fraud “right out of the box on election night … before there was actually any potential for review of the evidence.”

Giuliani and his associates, including attorney Sidney Powell, would go on to promote debunked theories of massive voter fraud that put them at odds with White House lawyers Stepien called “Team Normal.”

Cheney exposed “remote conspiracies” – called “absurdity” by Barr – of fraud involving voting machines “with a deceased Venezuelan communist allegedly pulling the strings”.

‘Big scam’

The committee says the initial fraud complaint quickly turned into a plot to cling to power by Trump and his inner circle – and a fundraising campaign that raised $250 million between election night and the Capitol insurrection.

The committee’s lead investigative attorney, Amanda Wick, said much of the money went to a political action committee that donated to pro-Trump organizations.

“As early as April 2020, Mr. Trump said the only way to lose an election would be through fraud,” said Zoe Lofgren, a Democratic panelist.

Committee member Zoe Lofgren told the hearing that Trump
Committee member Zoe Lofgren told the hearing that Trump’s ‘big lie was also a big scam’ MANDEL NGANAFP

“The big lie was also a big scam,” she said, promising to show how the Trump campaign raised hundreds of millions of dollars from supporters who were falsely tricked into believing their donations would be used for the legal fight against allegations of fraud.

All but one of the 62 lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign were dismissed – the vast majority by Republican-appointed judges – while the one that was upheld did not affect the outcome.

Eleven lawyers faced disciplinary proceedings for “bad faith” legal efforts to nullify the election.

Powell filed four federal lawsuits in staunchly Democratic cities that were all dismissed as frivolous, and in Detroit a judge ordered that she face penalties for “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

The panel ended the hearing by returning to the Capitol riot, showing footage of crowd attendees explaining how Trump’s voter fraud allegations motivated their actions.

“I know exactly what’s going on right now. Fake elections,” one said.


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