The Lead

U.S. House committee examines efforts to pressure GOP state officials — including in Pa. — to overturn 2020 election

By: - June 21, 2022 3:04 pm

Pa. House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, speaks at a Capitol news conference on April, 17, 2019. (Capital-Star file photo)

Pennsylvania’s highest-ranking House Republican received daily calls from then-President Donald Trump’s campaign, seeking his support in efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

In a Tuesday hearing, the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack at the U.S. Capitol showed testimony from House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, and played voicemails left by Trump lawyers who pushed unsubstantiated claims of a fraudulent election.

“Mr. Speaker, this is Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis,” Giuliani said during a voicemail to Cutler. “We’re calling you together because we’d like to discuss, obviously, the election.”

The panel played a series of messages Cutler received in November 2020, including one where Giuliani said he had “something important to call to your attention — I think really changes things.”

Cutler, who previously spoke to the U.S. House committee, told the panel he thought the calls were “inappropriate” and had his attorneys ask the Trump allies to stop calling, but they continued.

“I understand that you don’t want to talk to me now,” Giuliani said in another message to Cutler. “I just want to bring some facts to your attention and talk to you as a fellow Republican.”

Trump eventually reached out twice to Cutler himself in December 2020, with his spokesperson Michael Straub telling the Washington Post that the former president said: “I’m hearing about all these issues in Philadelphia and these issues with your law. What can we do to fix it?”

Straub — who was not on the calls but was briefed later — told the Post that Cutler told Trump the General Assembly did not have the authority to overturn the state’s slate of electors.

Cutler was one of the 64 legislative Republicans who sent a letter urging Congress to object to the commonwealth’s electoral votes, which went to now-President Joe Biden.

In a statement issued hours after the hearing, Cutler said he was interviewed by the U.S. House committee twice but was not contacted ahead of Tuesday’s hearing “or made aware of what portions of my interview would be included in the public proceedings.”

“As the committee’s investigation is still ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to provide any additional comments about my testimony at this time,” he said.

The U.S. House committee also played never-before-seen testimony from Cutler, where he discussed the aftermath of Trump ally Steve Bannon calling for protests outside Cutler’s home and district office. He also outlined the consequences of having his personal information — his email, cell, and home phone numbers shared publicly online.

“In fact, we had to disconnect our home phone for about three days because it would ring all hours of the night and would fill up with messages,” Cutler said.

The U.S. House committee focused less on Pennsylvania’s “alternative” slates of electors compared to other swing states where bogus electors signed documents wrongly declaring Trump as the winner of the 2020 election.

In Pennsylvania and Nevada, the Republican electors hedged the language on their false certificates to say they would cast electoral votes for Trump only if legal challenges to the election succeeded in court.

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