The Jan. 6 Commission surprised many on Sunday by placing former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien on its list of witnesses for Monday’s hearing.
It turns out that just hours before the hearing began, Stepien informed the panel he would be unable to give his live testimony. Stepien was subpoenaed and his lawyer said he intended to comply with the subpoena.
Stepien’s attorney Kevin Marino told reporters that Stepien’s wife was in labor. He also shot down questions on whether doctors induced Stepien’s wife.
“Mr. Stepien was here in town with me preparing for his testimony and response to his subpoena,” Marino said. “He got a call, this morning, 6 o’clock, telling him that she had gone into labor and he should go to the hospital immediately, so we immediately advised the committee and he went to be with her.”
Stepien previously gave testimony behind closed doors to the committee. The committee played clips from his recorded testimony during Monday’s hearing. The testimony indicated that Stepien advised Trump not to declare victory on election night as the results were “too close to call.”
He said Trump did not follow his advice.
“The president disagreed with that. I don't recall the particular words. He thought I was wrong. He told me so. And that they were going to go in -- he was going to go in a different direction,” Stepien told the panel.
Stepien said as the days passed after the election and more mail-in ballots were counted, his outlook on Trump getting reelected in 2020 was “bleak.”
“Very, very bleak. We told him that the group that went over there outlined my belief in chances for success at this point. And then we pegged it at, you know, 5 maybe 10 percent based on recounts that were, you know, either automatically initiated or could be initiated based on, you know, realistic legal challenges,” he told the committee.
Stepien portrayed himself as a foil to Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who peddled some of the more outlandish claims of election fraud.
“I didn’t think what was happening was necessarily honest or professional at the time,” he said. “I didn’t mind being characterized as ‘Team Normal.’”
Stepien said the actions of Trump’s legal team, led by Giuliani, caused him to leave the campaign.