Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the Georgia secretary of state, testified on June 21 during a public hearing before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. The series of questions focused on efforts by former President Donald Trump and his associates to change the outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia, and the threats to officials and election workers that followed.
After establishing the integrity of the vote that favored Biden as the winner, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked the two officials about misinformation spread by Trump and his associates, including a video showing election workers putting ballots away under a table that inspired a conspiracy theory. The footage, which attorney Rudy Giuliani called a “smoking gun,” actually showed “normal ballot processing,” Sterling said. But combating Trump’s misinformation was like “trying to empty the ocean with a shovel,” Sterling said, who described having to try to convince family members of the truth.
“Often times I felt our information was getting out, but there was a reticence of people … to believe it because the president of the United States, who many looked up to and respected, was telling them it was not true, despite the facts,” Sterling said, noting that the facts didn’t matter as much to people who felt in their “heart” that Trump had been cheated.
“Our job, from our point of view was to get the facts out, tell the truth, follow the Constitution, follow the law, and defend the institutions, and the institutions held,” he added.
Schiff explained how Trump “continued to push the false claim that he won the state of Georgia,” and shared clips of the president asking a Georgia elections investigator for her help in the vote count, as well as one where Trump told Raffensperger that it was “dangerous” for him to say there was nothing wrong with the election results.
Before discussing the threats and harassment that Raffensperger and his family faced from Trump supporters, Schiff asked him if there was any way that he could have lawfully changed the result of the Georgia election by recalculating the vote totals.
“The numbers are the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. We had many allegations and we investigated every single one,” he responded.
The hearing was the fourth of several planned by the Jan. 6 committee to present its findings to the public. It focused on Trump’s efforts to pressure state legislators and local election officials to change the results of the 2020 presidential election. In the year since its creation, the committee has conducted more than 1,000 interviews, seeking critical information and documents from people witness to, or involved in, the violence that day.