Donald Trump’s defense seems to falter ahead of the Jan. 6 hearings

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A Trump defense effort appears to falter ahead of Jan. 6 committee hearings

An effort by Donald Trump’s lawyer to publicly rebut the Jan. 6 committee appears to be sputtering, even as the former president presses allies on Capitol Hill to mount a vigorous defense on his behalf.

For more than a month, Florida-based Trump lawyer Peter Ticktin, a high school classmate of the ex-president’s, has been circulating an open letter requesting videos that might portray the actions of Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, in a positive light and cast doubt on the official version of events.

Addressed to “all Patriots,” Ticktin’s letter has been shared widely on far-right media outlets including the Gateway Pundit and other venues. It begins: “If you are reading this, you probably know that our election was stolen and that the whole January 6th ‘Insurrection’ was not what the Left want us to believe it was.” He goes on to request footage supporting a version of events that has been widely debunked.

In an interview with Grid about the letter, Ticktin would not estimate the number of clips he has received, saying only that “more than a dozen videos” have been submitted so far.

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By contrast, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol has received more than 14,000 hours of security camera footage and over 140,000 documents.

Citing attorney-client privilege, Ticktin would not say whether he was engaging in the video collection effort at Trump’s request or whether he has updated the former president on the status of the effort.

“The thing that we’re interested in is showing who’s actually responsible for what happened on Jan. 6,” he said. “They were outside agitators. And that’s what we’re looking for.”

“Another narrative”

Ticktin’s letter appears to reflect an organized effort to recast the attack as a peaceful protest, prompted to violence and lawbreaking by left-wing operatives and the police themselves.

The letter contains 13 bullet points describing types of information sought, including footage of: “Trump Protestors being peaceful,” “Trump Protestors helping police and fellow protestors,” and “Antifa, BLM, or other agitators antagonizing the crowd.”

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It goes on to request footage of “Police or anyone else waving/encouraging people to go into the Capitol building,” and “police beating or antagonizing Trump supporters.”

Such conspiracy theories were popular on the right in the immediate aftermath of the historic attack. They have been consistently debunked by analysts and fact checkers based on extensive video footage from security cameras in the Capitol and social media posts by the rioters.

Indeed, the events of Jan. 6 have been extensively reported on and corroborated with documentation, video and eyewitness accounts: Trump, in a 75-minute speech on Jan. 6, repeated false claims about election fraud and urged his supporters to go to the Capitol, according to a bipartisan Senate report released last year. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the deadly insurrection in a February address.

Ticktin’s letter also appears to distort the facts of two deaths of pro-Trump activists that occurred amid the attack, those of Ashli Babbitt and Rosanne Boyland. His letter requests footage of “the shooting (or apparent shooting) of Ashli Babbitt” and footage of “the beating of Rosanne Boyland by police or any other video of Ms. Boyland, including Trump supporters trying to save her.”

Babbitt, who was wearing a Trump flag in the style of a cape, was fatally shot by the Capitol Police as she attempted to break into the Speaker’s Lobby at the Capitol. Rosanne Boyland, according to D.C.’s medical examiner, died due to “accidental acute amphetamine intoxication.”

At least one of the videos Ticktin received appears to have come from a right-wing independent online media personality Bobby Powell, who posted a video to the video-hosting site Rumble on May 16 about his extensive efforts to mail a piece of footage to numerous members of Congress and right-wing media personalities.

“I was beginning to give up hope anyone would do anything about the footage that I recorded in D.C. of two federal agents attacking the Capitol until today, the day that Donald Trump — the 45th and 47th president of these United States — got a copy through his lifelong friend and attorney, Peter Ticktin,” Powell said in his video, which includes a picture of Ticktin in his office holding a thumb drive.

Ticktin would not say what, exactly, he planned to do with the footage he has received. While his letter spells out what he wants the footage he’s soliciting to show, he accused the Jan. 6 committee of trying to create a narrative of what happened that day.

“They want to go after who they want to go after,” Ticktin told Grid. “They’re not looking for the truth. They’re only looking to evidence that would support their narrative.”

Republicans plot pushback

Ticktin’s effort is not the only rebuttal effort to the committee’s findings from Trump and his allies. From Capitol Hill, some Republicans are reportedly planning counter-messaging in response to the hearings.


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The Republican National Committee is encouraging its members to label the committee’s work as “partisan” and call Democrats “the real election deniers,” according to documents first obtained by Vox.

Key figures in the pushback will be some of Trump’s biggest allies in Congress, including Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. The four are reportedly expected to help develop and deliver the Republican messaging response to the public hearings.

“We’re working very closely with President Trump and his team, with Leader Kevin McCarthy, with Jim Jordan, and really all of the House Republicans will be pushing back in a rapid response fashion,” Stefanik said in an interview Sunday on Breitbart News.

The GOP’s defensive line includes subjects of interest to the select committee. The panel issued subpoenas in May to five Republican members of Congress, including Jordan and McCarthy, seeking information related to the Jan. 6 attacks.

Banks and Jordan both contested the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, and were originally chosen by McCarthy to sit on the committee. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected them, citing “concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members,” McCarthy pulled all of his selections. Banks, Jordan and McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment.

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“Dems think people care about J6″

As the first hearing approaches, members of Congress with ties to Trump are already engaging in a messaging campaign centered largely on changing the subject.

“Americans are suffering from out of control inflation & gas prices, high crime, no baby formula, & open border causing record fentanyl deaths. Dems think people care about J6,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tweeted on Monday.

McCarthy called the upcoming hearings “political theater” in a Monday tweet. McCarthy previously expressed concern about the Jan. 6 attacks, telling GOP colleagues in a private Jan. 8, 2021, phone call that he planned to recommend the president resign, according to a recording obtained by the New York Times.

Trump’s office and the Republican National Committee did not respond to requests for comment.

The Jan. 6 committee is expected to present an overview of the findings from its 10-month investigation starting with a prime-time hearing beginning at 8 p.m. on Thursday, followed by additional hearings throughout the summer.

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Members of the committee have promised the hearings will present the public with revelatory new findings. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., has said the findings will “blow the roof off the House.” In an interview with CBS, committee member Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said she was confident the hearings would grab the attention of the American people.

“People must watch,” she said, “and they must understand how easily our democratic system can unravel if we don’t defend it.”

Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.

  • Steve Reilly
    Steve Reilly

    Investigative Reporter

    Steve Reilly is an investigative reporter for Grid focusing on threats to democracy.