Jan. 6 committee hearing puts Arizona’s ‘consequential’ 2020 election results in spotlight
PHOENIX – Arizona’s “consequential” 2020 presidential election results, and how they were reported, were in the spotlight for part of Monday morning’s Jan. 6 committee hearing.
Fox News Channel was the first media outlet to call Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden on election night, setting off a firestorm at and around the conservative network.
Former Fox political editor Chris Stirewalt, whom the channel laid off about two months after the election, appeared before the committee to answer questions about how that call was made.
“We knew it [Arizona] would be a consequential call because it was one of five states that really mattered” in addition to swing states Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania, he said.
Did former President Trump have any basis to declare victory in the 2020 election?
Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien and former Fox News Political Editor Chris Stirewalt: pic.twitter.com/li48PrwsPC
— January 6th Committee (@January6thCmte) June 13, 2022
Stirewalt testified that Fox was working off different data and research than its competitors, which allowed the network to correctly call Arizona first. He said his decision team was unanimously in favor of making the call when it did.
“We looked around the room, everybody says ‘yay,’ and on we go,” he said. “And by the time we found out how much everybody was freaking out and losing their minds over this call, we were already trying to call the next state. We had already moved on.”
The committee played a clip of Fox calling Arizona for Biden, with anchor Bret Baier calling it “a big get.”
Bill Stepien, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, said “there was surprise at the call.” Jason Miller, a Trump campaign senior adviser, said it “completely” shifted the attitude at the White House.
Miller said there was “both disappointment with Fox and concern that maybe our data or our numbers weren’t accurate.”
Stepien and Miller appeared in clips from their previously recorded testimony. Stepien had been scheduled to appear in-person but canceled Monday morning after his wife went into labor, delaying the start of the proceedings by 45 minutes.
The nine-member House committee interviewed more than 1,000 people during its 11-month investigation and is presenting its findings in a series of hearings. Monday’s was the second of seven scheduled hearings.
The bipartisan panel has been making a case that Trump is responsible for the events of Jan. 6, 2021, because his repeated false claims of voter fraud, both before and after the election, provoked a mob of his supporters to violently attack the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying Biden’s victory.
Monday’s hearing showed how campaign advisers, top government officials and family members were dismantling Trump’s false claims of voting fraud on election night but he went ahead and tried to claim victory the next day, alleging the the election was stolen.
“My belief, my recommendation was to say that votes were still being counted, it’s too early to tell, too early to call the race,” Stepien said.
But Trump “thought I was wrong. He told me so.”
Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., opened the hearing by saying Trump “betrayed the trust of the American people” and “tried to remain in office when people had voted him out.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.