by Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Elections officials told the House Committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol how supporters of Donald Trump threatened, insulted and harassed them after they refused to help the former US president “overturn” the result of the 2020 presidential election.
Arizona House of Representatives Speaker Russell Bowers told the committee how Donald Trump supporters had compromised the smooth running of his office by inundating it with calls and emails.
“We received over 20,000 emails and tens of thousands of messages and text messages, which overwhelmed our offices. We were unable to work, or at least communicate,” said Russell Bowers.
The commission is now focusing on the pressure the former president exerted on representatives of several states as he sought to retain power after his defeat in the November 2020 election.
Russell Bowers said he was harassed in the weeks leading up to the attack on the Capitol, with protests held outside his home, a gunman attacking his neighbor, threats and insults against him continuing while his daughter was seriously ill.
“It was disturbing. Very disturbing,” said Russell Bowers, who campaigned for Donald Trump in 2020, indicating that he had wanted to see the former president re-elected.
Recounting conversations in which Donald Trump and his close advisers, including the former president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and adviser John Eastman, urged him to reverse the election results, Russell Bowers said their responding, “What you are asking me to do is against my oath and I will not betray my oath.”
Audio and video recordings in which people close to Donald Trump, and the former president himself, could be heard calling on officials to reverse the election results, were also played before the commission.
Elections officials in the state of Georgia have also testified to the pressure exerted on them and the false statements made by Donald Trump’s camp about the conduct of the elections in the state.
(With Doina Chiacu and contributions from Rose Horowitch and Linda So; French version Camille Raynaud)