Mr. Bowers read through an account of being called by Mr. Trump on a Sunday after returning from church when the defeated president presented his proposal to have the state replace his voters for Mr. Biden with those who favored Mr Trump.
“I said, look, you’re asking me to do something that’s against my oath,” Mr Bowers told the committee.
Mr. Bowers insisted on seeing Mr. Trump’s voter fraud evidence, which he said Trump’s team had never produced beyond vague allegations. He recalled Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, telling him at one point, “‘We have a lot of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.'”
Mr Trump wanted Mr Bowers to hold a hearing at the state Capitol, but the Republican leader said there was already a “circus” atmosphere during the election. The panel showed video footage of protesters at the Arizona State House, including a key figure, the cocked hat wearing Jacob Chansley, who was later arrested during the Jan. 6 riot.
Mr Trump nonetheless pressed the Arizona official, including on a follow-up call, suggesting he expected a better response from a fellow Republican.
But Mr Bowers testified under oath that because of his faith, including a belief that the US Constitution is divinely inspired, what the President was asking him to do was “alien to my very being”.
The violence of thugs
Republican Liz Cheney, vice chair of the panel, hugged Mr Bowers during a break in the hearing.
She implored Americans to heed the evidence presented, saying, “Donald Trump didn’t care about threats of violence. He did not condemn them, he made no effort to stop them”.
“We can’t let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.”
The public hearing, the panel’s fourth this month, stems from its year-long investigation into Mr. Trump’s unprecedented bid to stay in power, a sprawling ploy the Jan. 6 committee chairman likened to an “attempted coup”.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger testified to Mr Trump’s phone call asking him to “find 11,780” votes that could topple his state to prevent Mr Biden’s election victory.
Mr. Raffensperger and his deputy Gabe Sterling were key witnesses, along with Wandrea Moss, a former Georgia election worker who, along with her mother, said she faced such severe public harassment from Trump allies. that they felt unable to lead a normal life.
Although the committee cannot charge Mr. Trump with any crime, the Justice Department is closely monitoring the panel’s work. Mr. Trump’s actions in Georgia are also under investigation by the grand jury, with the district attorney due to announce his findings this year.
Mr Trump defended himself on social media, describing his phone call to Mr Raffensperger as “perfect”, in the same way he described his 2020 call with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky which resulted in his first impeachment.
During the call days before the January 6 attack, Mr Trump repeatedly cited refuted fraud allegations and raised the prospect of a ‘criminal offence’ if Georgian officials did not change the count. of State. The state had counted its votes three times before certifying Mr Biden’s victory by a margin of 11,779.
Conservative law professor John Eastman, Trump’s lawyer, pushed fake voters in the weeks after the election. Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman summoned hundreds of voters in a Jan. 2, 2021 call, encouraging them to send in alternative lists from their states where Mr. Trump’s team alleged fraud.
The bogus voters idea was designed to issue a challenge on Jan. 6, 2021 when Congress met in joint session, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding over what is usually a ceremonial role to accept state vote counts. . But the effort fell apart, as Mr Pence refused repeated requests from Mr Trump to simply stop certifying Mr Biden’s victory – a power he believed he did not possess in his purely ceremonial role. .
At least 20 people linked to the fake voter scheme have been subpoenaed by the House panel. The committee says it will also show it has gathered enough evidence through its more than 1,000 interviews and tens of thousands of documents to link the various efforts to overturn the election directly to Mr. Trump.