It makes me mad because I — I was hanging on every word he was saying.Former President Trump supporter Stephen Ayres testifying during the seventh hearing of the House Select Committee investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021 about how he feels about President Trump still discussing fraud claims concerning the 2020 presidential election.
- Ayres — who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building for entering the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — testified: "… I was, you know, pretty hardcore into the social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I followed … President Trump … on all the websites … He basically put out, you know, come to the Stop the Steal rally … and I felt like I needed to be down here," referring to Washington D.C. on January 6, when former President Trump held a rally right before a joint session of Congress was scheduled to certify the 2020 election results.
- NBC News reports Ayres, who testified he lost his job and sold his house following Jan. 6, is "one of more than 840 people who have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack." His sentencing is scheduled for September.
- When asked if he still believes the election was stolen, Ayres said "… Not so much now.” As for what he wants Americans to learn from his story, he responded: "… for me I felt like I had, you know, like horse blinders on. I was — I was locked in the whole time. Biggest thing for me is take the blinders off, make sure you step back and see what's going on before it's too late."
Why It Matters: In the seventh hearing on the events of January 6, 2021 the House Select Committee focused on former Pres. Trump's words, primarily on Twitter and in his Jan. 6 rally speech, and how that impacted events leading up to and on January 6. Other testimony largely reflected what has been shared in previous hearings regarding several of former Pres. Trump's closest advisors, who told him there was no widespread evidence of election fraud.
A few notable quotes from the hearing:
- The committee shared a photo of a tweet that former Pres. Trump posted on December 19, 2020, in which he wrote: "… Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
- A former Twitter employee who oversaw "platform and content moderation policies" during 2020 and 2021 anonymously testified the following in regards to this tweet: "After this tweet … it became clear not only were these individuals ready and willing, but the leader of their cause was asking them to join him in this cause and in fighting for this cause in DC on January 6 as well. I will also say what shocked me was the responses to these tweets …"
- The committee also played a clip from former Chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence for Washington D.C. Donell Harvin, who testified the following on the impact of Pres. Trump's Dec. 19 tweet: "We got derogatory information … suggesting that some very, very violent individuals were organizing to come to D.C., and not only were they organized groups to come to D.C., but these groups, these nonaligned groups were aligning. All the red flags went up at that point. You know, when you have armed militia collaborating with white supremacy groups, collaborating with conspiracy theory groups online, all toward a common goal, you start seeing, what we call in, you know, terrorism, a blended ideology, and that's a very, very bad sign."
- At the end of the hearing, vice chairman of the special committee, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), noted Pres. Trump made a phone call to a witness whom the public has not yet heard from. The witness did not answer the call and instead alerted his lawyer, who then alerted the committee. Cheney said the committee has notified the Justice Department, concluding: "We will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously."
- Pres. Trump's spokesman Taylor Budowich responded to this allegation on Twitter: "Liz Cheney continues to traffic in innuendos and lies that go unchallenged, unconfirmed, but repeated as fact because the narrative is more important than the truth.”
- Pres. Trump has continued to denounce the House Select Committee and the hearings about January 6.
Trump Spurred Far-Right Groups to Violence on Jan. 6, Committee Says (The Wall Street Journal)
Jan. 6 takeaways: 'Screaming' and a Trump tweet never sent (Associated Press)
Click HERE to watch the hearing in full, and to view previous hearings.
Transcript of Hearing: Here's every word from the seventh Jan. 6 committee hearing on its investigation (NPR)
by Jenna Lee,