Russell “Rusty” Bowers, Speaker of the Republican House of Representatives in Arizona, paused repeatedly, apparently trying to calm down during his testimony Tuesday, when he described the consequences of refusing to break his oath by declaring Donald Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump and his lawyers were central to an intense pressure campaign against Bowers after it became apparent that Joe Biden had won several key states, including Arizona. In the final weeks of his presidency, Trump leaned on a number of government officials to persuade them to publicly state that election fraud had annulled Biden’s victory, but they refused. Bowers was among them, as he testified at the fourth public hearing held by the House Committee to Investigate the Attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
“There was… there was no conclusive evidence… nothing that could tell me, ‘You have doubts. Renounce your oath. I won’t do it,” Bowers said of Trump’s claims of fraud.
He said that his belief in the Constitution, which he called “divinely inspired”, was “a dogma” of his faith.
“And so for me to do this because someone just asked me to do it is foreign to my very being,” Bowers said. “I will not do it.”
The Trump team has argued many times in court that various forms of electoral fraud took place in 2020. However, the courts repeatedly ruled against him, determining that there was no such evidence.
Bowers described conversations with the Trump team in which he asked if he could see the evidence that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani claimed. Giuliani said he would produce it, but never did, Bowers testified.
The Arizona MP also opposed attempts by Trump’s allies to persuade him to hold a vote to decertify the state’s electoral roll so that a pro-Trump electoral roll takes their place.
Bowers said John Eastman, Trump’s lawyer, told him, “Just do it and let the courts sort it out.”
Bowers recounted his response: “You are asking me to do something that has never been done in the history of the United States.”
At another point, Bowers read a short passage from his personal diary, which was written in late 2020 at the request of committee member Adam Schiff (D-CA).
“I don’t want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with the laws to which I swore allegiance, ”read Bowers. He explained how his office received more than 20,000 emails and “tens of thousands” of voice messages and text messages from Trump supporters at the time.
The “circus”, as he called the aftermath of the election, even appeared on his doorstep. Bowers testified that Trump supporters came to his home, upsetting his chronically ill daughter. (She died a few weeks after.)
“At home … there is a new pattern in our lives to worry about what will happen on Saturdays because different groups come to us,” Bowers testified. “They had truckloads of video panels with videos of me declaring me a pedophile and a pervert, a corrupt politician.”
“So it was worrying,” he said. “It was disturbing.”
Shortly before the hearing began, Trump issued a disparaging statement in which Bowers called him “the last [Republican in name only] playing along with the Non-Selection Committee” is his nickname for the House committee. Trump claimed that Bowers told him in November 2020 that the election “was rigged” and that Trump “won in Arizona.”
He concluded with a clear threat: “Bowers must hope there is no record of the conversation.”
Under oath, Bowers hit back. He said that while he did have a conversation with the president, “it’s definitely not the case.”
“Anywhere, anyone, at any time, said that I said that the elections were rigged, that would not be true,” Bowers testified.
The House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol is expected to hold another hearing on Thursday as it continues its investigation.