On election night, many aides advised Trump against declaring victory but instead waiting for his campaign team to get more data. Fox News, a favorite outlet for Trump, had called Arizona’s race for Biden, but votes were still being counted elsewhere. Instead of listening to his own campaign advisers, however, the irate ex-president relied on the advice of Rudy Giuliani, who was repeatedly described by witnesses as ‘drunk’ and had told a crowd of his most loyal supporters still gathered in the White House, “frankly, we won this election”.
According to testimony presented by the committee, or recounted in personal accounts elsewhere, aides and advisers who so far have called Trump’s claims unproven and his conspiracy theories false include:
Former Attorney General Bill Barr
Barr told the committee that after the November election he had three discussions with Trump about the results.
“I made it clear that I disagreed with the idea of saying the election was stolen and posting this stuff that I told the president was bullshit. I didn’t want to be part of it and that’s one of the reasons I decided to leave when I did,” Barr said. “I observed, I think on December 1, you can’t live in a world where the administration in power stays in power based on their view not supported by specific evidence that there has been election fraud.”
Bill Stepien, former Trump campaign manager
In a deposition recorded in February, Stepien said he was among those who advised Trump not to declare victory on election night.
“The president didn’t agree with that,” he said. “I don’t remember the specific words. He thought I was wrong, he told me, and they were going to go in another direction.
Then, later in November, Stepien described Trump’s chances of legally winning the election as “very, very, very bleak.”
He said a group had told Trump they thought his odds of winning were about “five, maybe ten percent based on recounts that were automatically thrown or could be thrown based on realistic legal challenges”.
Trump’s own family may have publicly supported the president, but privately they have come to terms with the loss. However, it’s unclear if they told Trump to move on. At the same time that Trump was contesting the election, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner were preparing move to miami.
Trump’s daughter said she privately accepted assessments that her father had lost the election as early as December. In an excerpt from a recording of her video deposition, she said Barr’s statement that he had found no evidence of voter fraud impacted her thinking.
“It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying,” Trump said.
Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue
The former Justice Department official was the subject of claim after claim of voter fraud with Trump, he told the committee. He told Trump, “most of the information you get is wrong.”
“I tried, again, to put that into perspective and try to put it in very clear terms to the president. I said something like, ‘Sir, we’ve done dozens of surveys, hundreds of interviews. The main claims are not supported by the evidence developed. We looked in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada,” Donoghue said in a taped interview shared by the committee. “’We do our job. Much of the information you get is wrong.
Matt Oczkowski, Trump campaign data expert
Trump adviser Jason Miller, who remains close to the ex-president, said he was in the Oval Office when Trump learned days after the election that county-by-county and state-by-state results won’t were not in his favour.
“At one point in the conversation, Matt Oczkowski, who was the chief data officer, was brought in, and I remember him telling the president in pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose,” Miller told the committee.
On the GETTR social media sites and on Twitter, Miller said Trump disagreed with Oczkowski’s evaluation.
“He believed that Matt was not looking at the prospect of legal challenges and that Matt was only looking from what those numbers showed, as opposed to broader things to include election legality and integrity,” Miller wrote, “problems that, as a data guy, he may not have been monitoring.
Alex Cannon, Trump campaign lawyer
Tasked with investigating allegations of voter fraud, Cannon said he told advisers to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that he found no evidence of voter fraud. He said the same to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who asked him, “So there’s no there?”
At some point later, Pence asked him for an update on the campaign’s results.
“I don’t remember his exact words, but he asked me if we found anything, and I said that I personally couldn’t find anything sufficient to alter the election results,” Cannon recalled. “He thanked me. It was our interaction.
Cannon also suggested that Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro played a role in promoting widespread fraud conspiracies and said Navarro dismissed a Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency report that concluded that “the election was safe”.
“I believe Mr. Navarro accused me of being a Deep State agent working with [CISA director] Chris Krebs versus the President.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway
Although Conway did not intervene in the January 6 hearings (she left the White House in the summer of 2020), she wrote in her recently released memoir, “Here’s the Deal,” that she was one of rare people to have told Trump he lost.
“I may have been the first person Donald Trump trusted in his inner circle who told him he missed this time,” Conway wrote.
“The team had failed on November 3, and they failed again afterwards. By not confronting the candidate with the grim reality of his situation, that the evidence had not surfaced to support the claims, they denied him the evidence he sought and the respect he was due. Instead, pleading after sycophant after showman, they genuflected in front of the Resolute Desk and promised the President goods they couldn’t deliver.
Trump denied that Conway ever told him lost.