At Jan. 6 hearing, a spotlight on two election workers who faced down Trump and his allies' demands
- Election officials testify they were threatened by Trump supporters at 4th Jan. 6 panel hearing.
- Fulton County, Ga., election worker Ruby Freeman was forced to flee her home for 2 months.
WASHINGTON — Amid a roster of high ranking election officials at the House hearing on Jan. 6 Tuesday, including Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, two Fulton County, Georgia election workers stole the show with their testimony.
Lawmakers who attended the fourth hearing of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection praised those election officials, who testified that they refused to comply with Trump and his allies in overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“We saw the very best of humanity in the state election officials who were fearful for danger, who were fearful that someone would get hurt.” Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Penn., told USA TODAY.
Fulton County election workers Wandrea “Shay” Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman, faced violent threats after Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and counsel to then-President Donald Trump, accused them of committing voter fraud.
A video recording of Freeman giving Moss a ginger mint became to focus of a right wing conspiracy theory after Giuliani said the mint was a USB port. The theory has since been debunked, but Moss was forced to leave a job she loved and Freeman fled her home for two months due to the volume of threats.
“Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you?” Freeman said in pre-recorded testimony.
Dean said Trump supporters who threatened Moss and Freeman "cared nothing for destroying their lives."
“What we saw today was such a contrast of the very best of Americanism and the very worst,” Dean said of the witnesses.
Gabriel Sterling, Georgia Secretary of State chief operating officer, also testified along with Bowers and Raffensperger.
During the hearing, the committee played a phone call between Trump and Raffensperger in which the former president was heard telling the Georgia secretary of state, "I need 11,000 votes."
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Biden carried the state by about 12,000 votes, Raffensperger said.
Testimony also revealed that the contact information for numerous election officials was released to the public, allowing them to become direct targets of Trump supporters who believed the former president's election fraud claims.
Raffensperger, along with Bowers and Sterling, each described the costs to their personal lives for refusing to comply with the strategy devised by the Trump team to locate or revise vote counts to allow him to win the election. Raffensperger's wife received "sexualized" texts and his daughter-in-law's home was broken into, he said.
Sterling testified that he lost his temper when members of his staff were threatened. One man's name trended online along with an image of a noose and the message: "You committed treason. May God have mercy on your soul.”
Bowers said he received over 20,000 emails and tens of thousands of voicemails and texts after the election. Protesters, among them Jacob Chansley — also known as the "QAnon Shaman" who was convicted for his participation in the Capitol riot — were also shown on video at the Arizona House of Representatives building calling for Bowers by name.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., called today's testimony "particularly compelling," in light of the witnesses' experiences
"Republicans and Democrats (were) both in a position to say they did their duty based on what was right," Cheney said.
"The fact is, the lie lives on. And with it, so does the danger," committee member Adam Schiff, D-Calif. told reporters after the hearing.
"I think what these witnesses (were) apparently indicating: If the president of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, can come down like a ton of bricks on the election worker like Wandrea Moss or Ruby Freeman, then they can come down on anyone."
Reach out to Chelsey Cox on Twitter at @therealco.