Fmr. Philadelphia city commissioner describes 'specific, graphic' threats made after Trump tweet

"We took seriously every case that was referred to us, no matter how fantastical," Schmidt said of election fraud claims.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Al Schmidt testifies before committee investigating Capitol riot
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Former Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt testified before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.

WASHINGTON (WPVI) -- Former city commissioner Al Schmidt, who helped oversee the 2020 election in Philadelphia, testified before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection on Monday about false claims of dead people voting, and the threats he and his family received after former President Donald Trump tweeted about him.

Schmidt, who was the only Republican on the election board, faced down criticism as Pennsylvania's election was called for Biden.

"Looking back, it's easy to see how one step led to another. How lies about 2020 led to threats against election officials, and that would lead to what occurred in Washington, D.C. on January 6," said Schmidt in an interview with Action News Monday night.

It was just a week ago the committee asked Schmidt to testify.

"In a lot of ways it's absurd we're still talking about the 2020 election. But at the same time, because people still seemingly have questions and doubts about it, it's important it be addressed and that's what this committee was doing," said Schmidt.

During Monday's hearing at the Capitol, committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California began by addressing the claims former President Trump made about election fraud in Philadelphia.

That includes allegations that dead people were casting ballots.

The committee showed video testimony of former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr, who refuted claims by Trump that more people in Philadelphia voted than there were voters.

He called the claim "absolute rubbish."

"The turnout in Philadelphia was in line with the state's turnout, and in fact it was not as impressive as many suburban counties," Barr said.

Lofgren then turned to claims made by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

"In fact, Mr. (Rudy) Giuliani told Pennsylvania state legislators that 8,000 dead people voted in Pennsylvania," Lofgren said.

Schmidt said there was no evidence to support that claim.

"Not only was there not 8,000 dead voters voting in Pennsylvania, there wasn't evidence of eight," Schmidt said. "We took seriously every case that was referred to us, no matter how fantastical, no matter how absurd, including these."

Lofgren then turned to a tweet from Trump on November 11, 2020 in which the former president said Schmidt was "being used big time by the fake news media to explain how honest things were with respect to the election in Philadelphia."

"He refuses to look at a mountain of corruption and dishonesty. We win," Trump tweeted.

Lofgren then asked Schmidt about the threats he received.

"As a result of that tweet, and the CNN interview you gave that stated the dead voter claims were false, you and your staff were subjected to disturbing threats," Lofgren said.

Schmidt said there were threats prior to Trump's tweet, but he described them as "pretty general in nature."

But, after Trump tweeted about him, Schmidt said the threats took a more threatening tone.

"After the president tweeted at me by name, calling me out in the way that he did, the threats became much more specific, much more graphic, and included not just me by name but included members of my family by name, their ages, our address, pictures of our home. Just every bit of detail you could imagine," he said.

The committee showed messages Schmidt and his family received, including one that read: "Heads on spikes. Treasonous Schmidts."

Schmidt now serves as the CEO of election watchdog group Committee of Seventy.

As he mulls another White House run, Trump insists the committee's investigation is a "witch hunt." Last week he said Jan. 6 "represented the greatest movement in the history of our country."

Nine people died in the riot and its aftermath, including a Trump supporter shot and killed by police. More than 800 people have been arrested in the siege, and members of two extremist groups have been indicted on rare sedition charges over their roles leading the charge into the Capitol.