Donald Trump had a “direct and personal role” in the attempt to defraud the United States with a fake elector scheme, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney said in her opening statement.

Cheney said during the January 6th committee hearing on Tuesday that not only did Trump play a personal role in the fake electors scheme, but also former Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman played a direct role in the scheme to defraud the United States.

Liz Cheney: “Today we will begin examining President Trump’s effort to overturn the election by exerting pressure on state officials and legislatures.

Donald Trump had a direct and personal role in this effort as did Rudy Giuliani, as did John Eastman. In other words, the same people who were attempting to pressure vice president Mike Pence to reject electoral votes illegally, were also simultaneously working to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election at the state level. Each of these efforts to overturn the election is independently serious. Each deserves attention both by congress and by our Department of Justice.

Eastman’s involvement is detailed in the coup memo, which contained a a timeline of how Trump and Eastman planned to use the Electoral Count Act to steal the election. The memo was written by Kenneth Chesebro and sent to Rudy Giuliani.

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) quoted a federal district Judge who said it was likely that Trump and others violated multiple federal laws with their scheme: “According to federal district Judge David Carter, President Trump and others likely violated multiple federal laws by engaging in this scheme to defraud the United States.”

Schiff said Trump’s pressure campaign involved Trump pressuring individual state legislators, urging them to go into session in order to declare him the winner or send two slates of electors to Congress so then VP Pence could choose the one declaring Trump the winner. When that didn’t work, Trump’s coup camp came up with the idea of sending fake slates of electors and made phony certificates associated with these fake electors.

Schiff cited Judge Carter, who in a previous filing called Trump’s and others’ coup attempt a “coup in search of a legal theory.” “President Trump’s pressure campaign to stop the electoral count did not end with Vice President Pence. It targeted every tier of federal and state elected officials. Convincing state legislatures to certify competing electors was essential to stop the count and ensure President Trump’s reelection.”

At issue here is establishing that Trump and others were directly involved in the pressuring and interference of the peaceful transfer of power, interference with election duties, interference with the counting of the votes, and election fraud. If the committee proves that they were directly involved (and there was already evidence of this via Trump’s call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is a witness at today’s hearing) they could face serious charges, provided our democracy does its job.

The Brookings Institute concluded in an October 2021 analysis based on the then available information that “Trump’s post-election conduct in Georgia leaves him at substantial risk of possible state charges predicated on multiple crimes. These charges potentially include: criminal solicitation to commit election fraud; intentional interference with performance of election duties; conspiracy to commit election fraud; criminal solicitation; and state RICO violations.”

We are in deep waters of crime here, a criminal attack on our democracy that has no precedence in scale. Watergate is looking charming and sweet in retrospect.

Donald Trump had a direct and personal role in a scheme to defraud the United States. If that’s not perfectly fitting for the guy who branded himself as America itself while constantly undermining and using the country for his own benefit, I don’t know what is.