Rudolph W. Giuliani seemed to be under the influence of alcohol, and he was heading straight for the president.
It was election night in the year 2020, and Vice President Donald J. Trump was watching as his campaign for re-election was slowly but surely being chipped away at. Mr. Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, was spewing conspiracy theories, according to video evidence collected by the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6.
According to Jason Miller, one of the top campaign aides for the president, who testified before the committee on January 6 that Rudy Giuliani was “definitely intoxicated” that night, Mr. Giuliani told the president that when he found him, he told him that “they’re stealing it from us.” Mr. Giuliani was reportedly under the influence of alcohol at the time. We have to go tell everyone that we won.
On the same evening, Mr. Trump’s immediate family members and the most trusted of his advisors repeatedly pushed him to reject Mr. Giuliani’s recommendation. Mr. Miller cautioned him against “going and declaring victory” until he had a clearer understanding of the statistics. His campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said that it is “far too early to be making any announcement like that.” “It’s much too early to be making any proclamation like that.”
But in the end, Mr. Giuliani was the only one who gave the president the answer he was looking for that night.
Mr. Giuliani’s rantings about stolen ballots contributed to the president’s own conspiracy beliefs about a rigged election, which he had been cultivating in public and private settings for a significant amount of time before the votes were even tabulated. They contributed to the beginning of an attack on democracy that lasted for many months and, in the opinion of the committee, led inevitably to the crowd that broke into the Capitol building in an effort to prevent the certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as president.
Mr. Trump informed Messrs. Miller and Stepien, along with the others, that they were being cowardly and that they were in the wrong. In the discussion that took place in the White House living quarters reception room, he informed them that he was going to go in “a new way.”
Soon after that, Mr. Trump did just that, making an appearance before the cameras in the East Room at 2:21 in the morning in front of a wall covered in American flags.
During the course of the address, he expressed his disapproval of the election, describing it as “a fraud on the American people” and “an embarrassment” for the nation. “We were getting set to win this election,” he assured his followers and the television viewers, “We were getting ready to win this election.” To tell you the truth, we were victorious in this election.
The Jan. 6 committee was responsible for compiling the insider’s version of what happened that night at the White House. The committee showed a video during its second public session on Monday that gave a vivid portrayal of how Mr. Trump disregarded warnings from his closest aides and advisors and went out to proclaim himself the victor nevertheless.
Testimony from those who were closest to the previous president clearly established the effective beginning of the official commencement of Mr. Trump’s claim that the election was stolen.