White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Eric Trump, and campaign manager for Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign Bill Stepien, listen as President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters during a campaign stop. Evan Vucci/AP Photo
Bill Stepien invoked the Fifth Amendment rather than comply with a legislative subpoena to testify about Bridgegate, the 2013 scandal in which staffers and political appointees of New Jersey’s GOP Governor Chris Christie closed down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to tie up traffic and punish a Democratic political rival. Now, the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol has subpoenaed Stepien, who is scheduled to testify on Monday, though it’s unclear how cooperative a witness he may be.
Christie, for whom Stepien worked as a campaign manager, told the New York Times in 2020 when Trump hired Stepien to replace Brad Parscale as campaign manager that Stepien “is a guy who is, in my experience with him, allergic to press attention, or public attention of any kind really.”
Nonetheless, Stepien was smack in the middle of the Trump campaign machinations on election night in November 2020, and members of Congress are likely keen to hear about what went on inside the White House that night. Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Phillip Bump reported in their book I Alone Can Fix It that as the election returns rolled in, Stepien cautioned Trump that the early returns may look favorable, but that there would still be mail-in ballots to be counted that might favor Biden, and that the margins could shrink considerably, something Trump apparently didn’t want to hear. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, according to Leonnig and Bump, urged Stepien to “just say we won,” regardless of what the vote tally in various states turned out to be.
The House committee kicked off anticipated hearings on Thursday with a prime-time performance that garnered more than 20 million viewers. Six more days of testimony are scheduled, starting Monday with Stepian and Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor. Stirewalt was part of the team that made Fox the first network to declare that Joe Biden had won the state of Arizona, a decision that Trump viewed as premature and left him apoplectic. Fox fired Stirewalt in January 2021 after the pro-Trump “stop the steal” frenzy had created a backlash against the network for correctly calling the hotly contested swing state for Biden.