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Jan. 6 Hearing: Top aide to Sen. Ron Johnson tried to send fake electors to Pence

ron johnson
Posted at 2:52 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 17:07:36-04

Sean Riley, a top aide to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., sought to send a slate of fake Wisconsin and Michigan electors to Vice President Mike Pence just after noon on Jan. 6, 2021, according to texts obtained by the January 6 committee and displayed during a hearing Tuesday and reported by NBC News.

The Democrat-led commission is holding its fourth of eight hearings Tuesday outlining what led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

According to texts revealed during Tuesday's hearing, Riley, Johnson's chief of staff and a former special assistant to then-President Donald Trump, texted Chris Hodgson, Pence's director of legislative affairs, saying "Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise."

Hodgson responded: "What is it?"

Riley messaged back: "Alternative slate of electors for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them."

Hodgson replied: "Do not give that to him."

Alexa Henning, a spokesperson for Sen. Johnson, issued a response to the news:

News of the texts revealed during the hearing brought swift condemnation from Democratic candidates running for Senator Johnson's seat.

During Tuesday's hearing, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers outlined the pressure he received to help overturn the results of the election.

Bowers, a Republican who campaigned for Trump, said he was presented with multiple allegations of widespread voter fraud, but the Trump campaign could not back up its allegations.

"No one ever presented me such evidence," he told the committee.

He said he was presented with a plot to toss out electors for Joe Biden and replace them with electors for Trump.

"You're asking me to do something that would break my oath and I will not break my oath," Bowers said about the plan.

Bowers said he had a conversation with Rudy Giuliani in which Giuliani claimed there were thousands of dead people who voted and thousands of undocumented immigrants who voted. Bowers said he asked for names, which Giuliani said he had. Bowers said he never received names from Giuliani or the Trump campaign.

The committee revealed Tuesday that false electors showed up on Dec. 14 in multiple states and submitted a slate of fake electors to the National Archives in hopes of getting Vice President Mike Pence to accept the electors on Jan. 6. Arizona was among the states.

Tuesday’s hearing features four witnesses, including two top Georgia election officials, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his leading deputy during the 2020 election Gabe Sterling.

In the days leading up to the insurrection, a tape surfaced of President Donald Trump's conversation with Raffensperger asking him to “find” enough votes for him to flip the election.

The committee’s previous hearing focused on Trump and attorney John Eastman's pressure to Vice President Mike Pence to reject Electoral College votes.

“One pressure campaign, as we saw last week, on the vice president to ignore the Constitution put the vice president's life in danger,” committee member Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, told CNN’s State of the Union. “And, this week, we will hear about how a similar pressure campaign directed against state and local elections officials put their lives in danger.

“And, similarly, the president was told this scheme is essentially something that his own lawyers couldn't justify.”

Georgia was among six states Trump won in 2016 that Joe Biden flipped in 2020. Biden won the state by a .23% margin.

After Georgia officials declared Biden was the winner, Sterling said he, his family, and other election officials were the targets of death threats. He decried Trump and his campaign for alleging the 2020 election was stolen.

Sterling said in late 2020 that Trump has the right to contest the election in court, but added, “You need to step up and say this, is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone's going to get hurt. Someone's going to get shot. Someone's going to get killed, and it's not right."

The Trump campaign issued a statement decrying the violence.