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Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Bill Stepien, will no longer testify before the House Jan. 6 committee, the panel announced Monday.
The committee had revealed on Sunday that Stepien would be appearing as a witness at the public hearing scheduled to take place Monday. But just an hour before the hearing was slated to begin, the panel issued an email update notifying reporters of the change of plans.
“Due to a family emergency, Mr. William Stepien is unable to testify before the Select Committee this morning,” read the email from the committee. “His counsel will appear and make a statement on the record.”
There was some speculation as to whether Stepien, a behind-the-scenes veteran of Republican campaigns, would be a “friendly” witness, as he’d reportedly been subpoenaed to appear before the committee. House investigators were expected to press Stepien on what Trump’s inner circle knew about the results of the election they lost, even as their candidate actively contested the outcome.
Monday’s hearing will mark the second in a new series of panels that the select committee plans to hold this month. During the initial primetime hearing on June 9, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and vice chairwoman, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., outlined how the committee plans to use the hearings to reveal what it has learned over the past 11 months about the Jan. 6 attack.
Committee aides told reporters that Monday’s hearing would be focused on the “big lie,” or “the decision by the former president to ignore the will of the voters, to declare victory in an election that he’d lost, to spread claims of fraud,” and to continue to do so after his attempts to litigate those claims in court were unsuccessful.
The committee staffers also said the panel “will reveal information about how the former president’s political apparatus used these lies about fraud to drive fundraising” and bring in millions of dollars between the election and Jan. 6, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a violent attack aiming to stop the certification of then-President-elect Joe Biden’s win. (The aides spoke on background, meaning that their names would not be used.)