Rep. Jody Hice, who’s main the Republican main in Georgia’s secretary of state race, was among the many members of Congress who performed a far greater position than beforehand understood in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, in response to current testimony supplied to the Home committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot and reported Saturday by The New York Times.
Hice and different members of the Freedom Caucus, a right-wing band of Republican lawmakers, participated in strategic dialogue with Trump chief of employees Mark Meadows that centered on pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence to ignore electoral votes from states Trump misplaced and substitute them with pretend slates of votes exhibiting Trump had as an alternative gained, the Instances reported based mostly on testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Meadows aide.
The testimony was included in a court docket submitting that was unsealed final week.
Different members of the group, together with Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) are extra well-known than Hice, and have beforehand been linked to the occasions of Jan. 6.
However Hice’s involvement is particularly notable given that he’s now in search of to turn into the highest elections official in Georgia, one of many states wherein Republicans tried to overturn the 2020 contest. He’s probably the most prominent and well-positioned candidate amongst a slate of Republican election deniers now seeking secretary of state positions in key battleground states throughout the nation, together with Arizona, Colorado, Michigan and Nevada.
Hice victories within the Might GOP main and November’s basic election would put a Trump ally who seemingly performed an intimate position in efforts to invalidate the 2020 election in control of future contests. And it could achieve this in a key swing state that has turn into a selected focus for right-wing efforts to take over the machinery of American elections within the wake of Trump’s defeat.
The lawmakers’ scheme to exchange authentic electors with pretend slates of pro-Trump electors has turn into a central focus of the Home committee investigating the riot.
The Republicans talked about in Hutchinson’s testimony, together with Hice, had “appeared to embrace,” the Instances reported, the plot Trump legal professional John Eastman outlined to overthrow the election in his now-infamous “coup memos,” which outlined the pretend electors technique and others for invalidating the election outcomes.
Even earlier than the newest revelations, Hice’s candidacy had stirred fears in Georgia and amongst election observers nationwide that he might doubtlessly use the secretary of state’s workplace to undermine future elections, or doubtlessly refuse to certify the outcomes of any consequence he didn’t like.
Hice introduced his bid for the workplace in March 2021, simply two months after voting in opposition to the certification of election outcomes on Jan. 6, the day of the riot. It was a direct problem to incumbent Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, the Republican who bucked Trump’s calls to “discover” the 12,000 votes crucial to vary the end result of the election in Georgia, which President Joe Biden gained. In the course of the two months between the election and Jan. 6, Raffensperger repeatedly refuted Trump’s claims that Georgia’s contest (and the election as a complete) had been marred by fraud, and along with GOP Gov. Brian Kemp licensed the outcomes.
Hice, who obtained Trump’s endorsement the day after launching his marketing campaign, has stated that Raffensperger “compromised” the integrity of the Georgia election by refusing to overturn it.
Lower than a month from the Might 24 main, Hice led Raffensperger, 35%-18%, in a recent Landmark Communications poll of possible Republican voters. A 3rd of these voters stay undecided and one other 13% favor one of many different two candidates within the GOP main.
Hice raised more than $1.6 million by the top of January, outpacing Raffensperger and all different GOP candidates within the race. His candidacy and people of different election deniers in search of secretary of state positions has attracted donations from distinguished billionaire conservatives who beforehand funded efforts to overturn the final election.
Hice’s congressional workplace didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark concerning the testimony.
The morning of Jan. 6, Hice tweeted that the battle to forestall the certification of the 2020 outcomes was a “1776 second” for Congress. He deleted the tweet after the riot occurred, and a spokesperson stated then that he condemned the riot itself. However within the wake of the riotous effort to overturn the election, Hice nearly instantly voted a second time to problem the certification of the outcomes.
“There isn’t any room for debate concerning the general integrity of the 2020 election vote depend, and somebody who claims there’s or who says they’re ‘simply asking questions’ concerning the vote counts can’t be trusted to manage a good election,” Rick Hasen, an election legislation professional on the College of California-Irvine, wrote recently.
“Victories for Large Lie proponents,” Hasen wrote in response to Hice’s lead in GOP main polls, “could be very harmful for democracy.”