Former President Donald Trump has decried the congressional inquiry into the riot by his supporters last year at the United States Capitol as a “mockery of justice”.
In a rambling, 12-page missive, Trump said on Monday that instead of focusing on the country’s larger problems, the Democratic-led panel was “a kangaroo Court, hoping to distract the American people from the great pain they are experiencing”.
“The truth is that Americans showed up in Washington, DC in massive numbers … on January 6th, 2021, to hold their elected officials accountable for the obvious signs of criminal activity throughout the Election,” Trump added.
Trump’s comments came following a hearing of the US House Select Committee on the January 6 attack where the dominant theme was that the former president had been informed by advisers and officials that his 2020 election fraud claims were false.
The event is the second out of six hearings that will stretch throughout June to support the case that the riot at the seat of US democracy in Washington, DC was the culmination of a seven-step conspiracy by Trump and his inner circle to overturn his defeat to Joe Biden.
The committee played multiple videos and presented testimony from several witnesses saying that they told the former president that there was no widespread fraud.
Appearing in a pre-recorded deposition at a congressional hearing into the 2021 assault on the US Capitol, former Attorney General William Barr described his then-boss as having no interest in the facts that debunked his groundless narrative.
“I was demoralised because I thought, boy … he’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” Barr told the House committee.
“When I went into this and would tell him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in the actual facts,” said Barr, who likened addressing Trump’s avalanche of false allegations to playing the game “whack-a-mole”.
Videotaped accounts show campaign manager Bill Stepien saying that he repeatedly counselled Trump not to declare victory on election night because he had not won, but that he went ahead anyway.
“He thought I was wrong, he told me so, and that they were going to go in a different direction,” Stepien said.
Republican lawmaker Liz Cheney said Trump chose to listen to the advice of “apparently inebriated” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani “to just claim he won, and insist that the vote counting stop – to falsely claim everything was fraudulent”.
Trump started pushing what came to be known as his “Big Lie” at about 2:30am on November 4, 2020, prematurely declaring victory on the night of an election he ultimately lost to Biden by seven million votes.
Barr said in his testimony that Trump claimed major fraud “right out of the box on election night … before there was actually any potential of looking at evidence.”
The committee says the initial claim of fraud grew quickly into a conspiracy to cling to power by Trump and his inner circle – and a fundraising campaign that raised $250m between election night and the Capitol insurrection.
The committee’s senior investigative counsel Amanda Wick said much of the cash was funnelled into a political action committee that made donations to pro-Trump organisations.
All but one of the 62 lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign were dismissed, the vast majority by Republican-appointed judges, while the one that was upheld did not affect the outcome.
The next hearing is set for Wednesday. The committee does not have the authority to charge individuals with crimes, but it can make recommendations to the Justice Department.