Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who was subpoenaed to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee Tuesday, says he believes the panel is serving a productive purpose — but wishes it was reaching some of the conservative viewers who need to hear it most.
Driving the news: “I wish that Fox News would have carried all of it, because I think it would have helped our party heal, given [people] more facts,” Raffensperger told Axios in an exclusive interview after his testimony.
“They can hear the information, and they can make their own determination,” he said, citing his own campaign against election disinformation during his re-election primary.Gabriel Sterling, the secretary of state’s chief operating officer, who was also subpoenaed Tuesday, agreed: “Nearly all the witnesses have been Republicans telling the truth,” he told Axios. “But the problem it has now is it is somewhat partisan.”
Context: Fox News declined to carry the committee’s first prime-time hearing live, instead allowing Tucker Carlson — who has promoted conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack — to air his show in its usual time slot.
The network has carried the other three daytime hearings live, with commentators often disparaging the committee as partisan and failing to break new ground.
The big picture: At Tuesday’s hearing, the committee sought to portray the extent of the pressure campaign former President Trump and his associates levied on state officials including Raffensperger, Sterling and Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who also testified live.
The intrigue: Responding to one viral revelation from the hearing, Sterling told Axios they were not previously aware that White House staff had discussed sending “a sh**load of POTUS stuff,” like coins and autographed MAGA hats, to Georgia election investigators.
Sterling, however, said it’s “hard to think of that as bribery. Kind of a low bar.”
Raffensperger also clarified one statement by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who said White House staff tried to contact Raffensperger’s office 18 times by call and text to set up the now-infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump pressured him to “find” 11,000 votes.
Raffensperger told Axios they believe most of those calls were to a secretary of state press line, where voicemails were not checked during that period. Raffensperger himself, he said, received just a few messages from then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to which he did not respond.
Of note: Raffensperger called Bowers, whom he testified beside, “a person of deep character.” He pointed out that Bowers invoked the same passage from Ronald Reagan’s inauguration about the peaceful transfer of power that Raffensperger cited in his own book.
What’s next: Raffensperger and Sterling said after this testimony, they’re determined to move on from the fallout of the 2020 election that has catapulted them to national prominence. “It’s been a year and a half, people. It’s been more than that,” Sterling said.
“We’re moving on because the No. 1 issue we’re facing in Georgia right now is the lawsuit from Fair Fight Action,” Raffensperger said, referencing the lawsuit launched by Stacey Abrams after she lost her 2018 race. Closing arguments are set for Thursday.Raffensperger said he also plans to prioritize business licensing reform during his ongoing re-election campaign, something he spoke about on the 2018 trail as well.