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The 2nd hearing from the Jan. 6 committee will focus on Trump's election lies

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The January 6 committee is underway this morning with their second hearing focused on President Trump's election lies. It's not going as expected. Trump's former campaign manager was set to testify until his wife went into labor this morning. That delayed the start of the hearing. Here to bring us up to date, we turn to NPR's Susan Davis. Susan, so what's the plan now if Bill Stepien, Trump's former campaign chief, is not going to be there?

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Well, the committee already spoke to Stepien back in February, so they had to switch gears pretty quickly. But they're going to play video from his depositions. His lawyer is also expected to make a statement on his behalf before the committee. Today's hearing, as they've laid out, is really focused on the fact that the people around the president, including his own legal team, were telling him he had lost the election. And yet he kept going and kept going with his election lies despite those legal challenges. And the bottom line for the committee is how all of that led to people attacking the Capitol on January 6. This is committee vice chair Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LIZ CHENEY: Mr. Chairman, hundreds of our countrymen have faced criminal charges. Many are serving criminal sentences because they believed what Donald Trump said about the election, and they acted on it.

MARTINEZ: So what else are we hearing this morning?

DAVIS: Well, we're expected to see several video montages going back to months before the election showing how Trump sort of set the ground about the election, saying it would be fraudulent if he lost months before the election. The committee is sort of building this hour-by-hour, week-by-week case following election night to show how the president, as early as that evening of the election, started making false claims about how even late that morning he claimed victory, even though the votes were still being counted in a lot of states. The committee is going to hear from Chris Stirewalt. He is a former political director from Fox News. He was fired from the network after the election in part because Trump allies were angry at how the network had called Arizona for Joe Biden - rightfully called the state for Joe Biden.

We're also going to hear from a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta who resigned after reporting coming under pressure to investigate false claims of voter fraud. And the committee is going to hear from Ben Ginsberg. He's a familiar name to a lot of people. He's a veteran Republican election lawyer. He was involved in the 2000 recount in Bush v. Gore. He was on the Bush campaign team. And the committee is also going to hear from Al Schmitt, another Republican. He was a Philadelphia city commissioner who defended the vote there as the Trump team was claiming that there was a lot of vote fraud in Philadelphia, and there was not.

MARTINEZ: Now, this is the second hearing; expect two more this week. What's on deck?

DAVIS: Well, on Wednesday, there will be another hearing focused on Trump's efforts, this time to pressure the Justice Department and install an attorney general who would be basically willing to act on those lies. There was a memorable clip played in the first primetime hearing featuring the attorney general at the time, Bill Barr, saying that Trump's claims were BS. Our own national correspondent Carrie Johnson confirmed that the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, who stepped in for Barr, is expected to testify before the committee. And Thursday's hearing is going to focus on the pressure campaign against former Vice President Mike Pence to try to obstruct the electoral vote count on January 6. We don't know who among the Pence orbit might be testifying, but some of his aides did testify behind closed doors under deposition earlier this year as well.

MARTINEZ: That's NPR's Susan Davis. Susan, thanks a lot.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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