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The ground has shifted for Colorado election deniers

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The ground has shifted for Colorado election deniers

Jun 23, 2022 | 6:30 am ET
By Quentin Young
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The ground has shifted for Colorado election deniers
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J. Michael Luttig, former U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the Fourth Circuit, testifies before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 16, 2022, in Washington, D.C. The bipartisan committee, which has been gathering evidence for almost a year related to the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, is presenting its findings in a series of televised hearings. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

A cascade of shocking revelations has flowed from the hearings of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Much of the information was previously known in outline, but evidence and testimony presented at the hearings has confirmed key points and provided crucial new details to the following narrative: Former President Donald Trump knew that he lost the 2020 election but in a single-minded bid to retain power pushed false claims that the election was stolen and conspired to pursue illegal and violence-prone efforts to overturn the results.

The hearings have revealed the gargantuan deceit of Trump and his allies, including coup-memo author and former University of Colorado Boulder scholar John Eastman and Colorado lawyer and Trump lackey Jenna Ellis. As the hearings have progressed (there’s more to come), they have altered the context in which every “big lie” proponent must be viewed.

We now understand that Trump’s closest advisors explained to him that he lost the election. That makes everyone outside his inner circle who parroted election-fraud claims a dupe.

We now have it on the authority of Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, the chair of the committee, that Trump was the corrupt leader not just of a mob of rioters but of “domestic enemies.” That makes every seditionist an accomplice in a war-like act against the United States.

This applies to several influential figures in Colorado.

Primary among them is U.S. Rep Lauren Boebert. The hearings have shown that Trump, based on an unconstitutional plan devised by Eastman, corruptly pressured former Vice President Mike Pence to block certification of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, and he was responsible for putting Pence in mortal danger when the vice president refused. The plan was diabolical, and Boebert was in on it.

“VP Pence needs to be Thomas Jefferson in this moment,” Boebert tweeted on Jan. 2, referring to a debunked precedent involving the third president. “We have your back if you’ve got ours, @VP.”

This was a threat. We now know that Trump’s attempt to strong-arm Pence was so sinister that the vice president’s chief of staff before the insurrection warned his lead Secret Service agent of a potential security threat.

Boebert, a Republican, is one of the most vocal Colorado election deniers. She helped foment anger among the Jan. 6 attackers and voted to overturn electoral results in favor of President Joe Biden from Arizona and Pennsylvania. She is a domestic enemy.

With the hearings, these election deniers now find themselves not just in the dishonest realm of conspiracy theory but also criminality and war.

State Rep. Ron Hanks rivals Boebert in his election denialism. While Boebert on Jan. 6 was inside the U.S. Capitol committing sedition, Hanks was just outside the building committing sedition. He was among the mob of Trump extremists and, though he says he didn’t enter the Capitol, he got as close as the steps of the building, past police cordons. 

He has never wavered in asserting the falsehood that Trump won the 2020 election. Even more alarming, he recently has suggested he wouldn’t accept future election results. He is a domestic enemy.

Shawn Smith, a Colorado Springs-based former Air Force colonel who leads the “election integrity” group Cause of America, funded by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, is among the most influential election-denial figures in the state. Videos show that on Jan. 6 he was part of a violent mob in a physical confrontation with police officers trying to clear Trump supporters from an area near the side of the U.S. Capitol. He is a domestic enemy.

The betrayal committed by these democracy-despising Coloradans cuts especially deep considering that they all swore an oath to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

There are many other notable examples in the state of people who were conned by Trump, or all too eager to believe his lies.

They include Republican state Rep. Dave Williams, whose primary political characteristic is unseemly fealty to the former president. He is one of the Legislature’s most outspoken election deniers. During this year’s legislative session, Williams introduced an amendment to a voting rights resolution that would have thanked Hanks and “the millions of other Americans who joined him on January 6, 2021″ to try to “secure our elections.”

Another example is Tina Peters, the Trump-devoted Mesa County clerk under felony indictments related to an election security breach in her own office.

What they all have in common is that the ground has shifted under their feet. Claims that the 2020 election was stolen were never credible. But with the hearings, these election deniers now find themselves not just in the dishonest realm of conspiracy theory but also criminality and war, marked already by a violent attempt to overthrow the government of the United States and the threat of future insurrectionist activity.

“Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy,” retired federal judge J. Michael Luttig, a revered conservative, said during the Jan. 6 hearing last Thursday. “That’s not because of what happened on Jan. 6. It’s because to this very day the former president his allies and supporters pledge that in the presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.”

Colorado is home to many of those Trump allies.

They wanted to overturn the 2020 election. The Jan. 6 hearings have shown the depth of their betrayal. Residents of the state must remain vigilant against what further harm they intend to inflict.