Trump fires back at Jan. 6 committee, calls hearings 'disgraceful performance'

Trump is a central figure in the House panel's probe of the Capitol attack.

June 17, 2022, 4:39 PM

Former President Donald Trump on Friday fired back at the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

"There's no clearer example of the menacing spirit that has devoured the American left than the disgraceful performance being staged by the unselect committee," Trump said at a conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Nashville, Tennessee.

"They're con people," Trump continued. "They're con artists."

The committee has held three of the seven public hearings scheduled for this month, laying out what it says was a "sophisticated, seven-part plan" by Trump and his supporters to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.

Trump was well aware of the fact that he lost, the committee argued, using testimony from members of his inner circle. But he moved ahead anyway with an illegal plot to remain in power and raised millions of dollars in the process of pushing the "big lie" that he was the real winner.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr told the committee in a taped deposition that Trump's claims of election fraud were "bull----." Ivanka Trump, also previously deposed by the panel, said she agreed with Barr's conclusion that the election was not stolen.

Trump -- who already dismissed his daughter's testimony -- on Friday accused the committee of taking the taped depositions out of context.

"The committee refuses to play any of the tape of people saying the good things, the things that we want to hear," he said. "It's a one-way street. It's a rigged deal."

Trump also slammed Republicans who crossed him and sit on the committee: Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.
Mark Humphrey/AP

The latest hearing on Thursday zeroed in on the intense pressure Trump and others heaped on then-Vice President Mike Pence to single-handedly reject state electors and block the congressional certification of Biden's win.

The pressure campaign put Pence in danger, lawmakers and witnesses said, with the vice president forced to hide underground for more than four hours after coming within 40 feet of the mob of rioters at the Capitol.

When Pence refused to follow Trump's plan, a "heated" phone call ensued the morning of Jan. 6, Ivanka Trump and other witnesses told the committee. One Trump aide in the Oval Office at the time recalled Trump mockingly referring to Pence as a "wimp."

Trump said Friday he never called Pence a "wimp" but continued to badger his vice president for not sending election results back to state legislatures, something both Trump and Pence were advised repeatedly was illegal, according to testimony given at the Jan. 6 committee hearings.

"Mike did not have the courage to act," Trump said, likening him to a "robot" and "human conveyor belt" for following the advice of those who said he didn't have the authority to reject state electors.

Former Pence attorney Greg Jacob and former federal judge Michael Luttig explained to the committee for hours Thursday their assessments that the vice president did not have the authority to do what Trump was asking. Luttig warned that if Pence had followed through with it, it would've plunged the nation into a constitutional crisis.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.
Mark Humphrey/AP

Trump on Friday continued to air false, baseless claims about the 2020 election, telling the crowd he didn't believe he lost despite being defeated in both the Electoral College and the popular vote, as well as losing scores of lawsuits challenging election results.

The ex-president also touted the number of people at his rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, calling it the largest group he's ever spoken in front of and describing an atmosphere of "unbelievable love and patriotism."

Trump even went so far as to weigh whether his Jan. 6 speech drew as many people as the famous "I Have A Dream" speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963.

The House committee has used footage from the Ellipse speech in multiple hearings to bolster its assertions that Trump was pressuring Pence to overturn the election and encouraging his supporters to go march to the Capitol.

On Friday, Trump also teased a potential 2024 run for president, pledging that if he were elected again he would consider delivering pardons to those prosecuted for their involvement in the insurrection -- which Trump described as "a simple protest" that "got out of hand."

"Most people should not be treated the way they're being treated," Trump said.

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