Donald Trump personally and also through his allies pressured dozens of state officials in the seven US states where he lost in the presidential elections of November 3, 2020. Even from the White House itself, then headed by the controversial New York tycoon, an illegal scheme of false pledges was promoted to replace those of his Democratic opponent to force the annulment of the election results.
The special commission of the US Congress investigating everything that happened around the brutal assault of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 by supporters of the former Republican president showed in its Tuesday session abundant evidence of the extensive dirty campaign that was carried out, in coordination with the White House, to coerce, intimidate and force numerous local and state officials to cooperate with his corrupt plot.
Officials at all levels of U.S. administrations received as many as 4,000 text messages, on their cell phones and even those of their family members, urging them to alter the outcome of the polls that was unfavorable to Trump. Other messages were intimidating and contained violent threats, even death threats. In turn, on the street, the intimidation campaign intensified through aggressive protests at workplaces and also the private homes of those officials, including election workers, who were targeted by the plotters of this apparent 'coup' attempt.
In parallel, Trump and his top advisors, including former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, set in motion the so-called "fake pledges" plan to replace the legitimate authorized ones drawn from the ballot boxes, which gave the victory to Joe Biden. According to their scheme, these "alternative" lists of electors were to be presented as "contested certifications" in the states in question for the certification of the election results to be made by Congress on January 6.
Such false certifications could have served the then Vice President, Mike Pence, as an excuse to declare such official results as objectionable and, consequently, to refuse to formalize Biden's victory, as his boss intended and urged him to do several times.
Simultaneously, numerous public officials related to that electoral process - whose testimonies were presented on video during the hearing - were harshly coerced to accept the illegitimate lists of Republican compromisers, willing to nominate Trump president. To add further confusion, Donald Trump's personal attorney, ex-politician Rudolph Giuliani and his group, were presenting legal challenges to alleged voter fraud with inconceivable theories to contest the results in the states still in question.
In one of the videos presented by the committee, testimony is heard from a Georgia election worker, Shaye Moss, who was falsely accused by Giuliani of sneaking in "suitcases" of votes favorable to Biden, a conspiracy debunked by election officials themselves. Moss and her mother, also an official, received racist threats and intense intimidation of their lives and that of their families, with traumatic consequences that still linger two years later.
Threats to a Secretary of State
The Commission also examined Trump's campaign of pressure on top officials in states he had lost, such as Arizona and Georgia. Two exception witnesses testified in person about it before Congress: the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffesnsberger, and his deputy Gabriel Sterling, both of whom were under intense pressure from Trump personally.
Both are Republicans and spoke about the strict review of the legitimacy of election results. They also did so of Trump's now-infamous January 2, 2021 coercion call, in front of witnesses, commanding Raffesnsberger to find 11,780 accurate votes, precisely those needed to overcome Biden's margin of victory. But upon his refusal, the Georgia Secretary of State received serious threats, including sexually demeaning comments against his wife. In addition, the home of his son's widow, with young children, was burglarized.
In the weeks that followed, Sterling vigorously denounced - in a press conference that went viral - Trump's campaign of lies about election theft in Georgia and urged him to recant in order to stop the violence he had unleashed. For their part, members of Trump's legal team, who do not deny the existence and elaboration of the illegitimate fake lists referred to above, dismissed as "distorted" the version of the plot presented by the Commission.