US lawmakers investigating the deadly riots at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 have focused their attention on President Donald Trump’s pressure on the US Department of Justice to overturn the 2020 election.
The House committee on Thursday held its fifth public hearing this month, once again exposing what it knows about Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the US presidential election he lost to Joe Biden.
This time, the hearing focused on Trump’s attempt to get the Justice Department to “legitimize its lies” about voter fraud, panel chairman Bennie Thompson said.
“When these and other efforts failed, Donald Trump sought to replace Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen, the acting attorney general, with an attorney who believed he would inappropriately put the full weight of the Justice Department behind the effort to nullify the election,” Thompson said.
Here’s a look at five key takeaways from this month’s fifth public hearing:
“Just say the election was corrupt,” says former US official told by Trump
The panel presented a handwritten memo by former US Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, in which he quoted Trump as saying: “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
Donoghue confirmed to the panel that the statement was an exact quote from Trump.
Donoghue said the Justice Department investigated several claims but found no cases of fraud that came close to changing the election results. The department told Trump, he added.
“There were isolated cases of fraud; none of them came close to questioning the outcome of the election in any individual state,” Donoghue told US lawmakers.
Trump Contacted DOJ Daily Over Fraud Claims, Jeffrey Rosen Testifies
Former acting US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen testified Thursday that Trump contacted him daily in the weeks leading up to the unrest on Capitol Hill and “claimed that he thought the Justice Department had not done enough” to investigate his charges. false claims of voter fraud.
“Between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, the president called or met with me practically every day, with one or two exceptions, like Christmas Day,” Rosen, who held the post for the past few years, told the committee. days of the Trump administration. .
Rosen said Trump raised the prospects of having a special voter fraud attorney, holding a meeting with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, filing a lawsuit in the US Supreme Court and making a public statement about the fraud claims, among other things.
“I will say that the Justice Department denied all of those requests … because we didn’t think they were appropriate based on the facts and the law as we understood it,” Rosen said.
Trump team named Jeffrey Clark as attorney general to overturn vote
The panel said it has been examining efforts to install former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general to help overturn the election.
Lawmakers and witnesses argued that Clark was unqualified for the job and was only suggested because he would have supported Trump’s fraud claims.
In a video of his testimony before the committee, Giuliani said, “I remember telling people that someone should be put in charge of the Justice Department who is not afraid of what is going to be done to his reputation.”
Donoghue said Republican Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania mentioned Clark during a Dec. 27 call in which Perry raised allegations of voter fraud in the state. “At the beginning of the call, Congressman Perry said that he was calling at the request of the president,” Donoghue told the panel.
“He said something like, ‘I think Jeff Clark is great and I think he’s the kind of guy who can go in and do something about it.’ And this came on the heels of the president mentioning Mr. Clark on the afternoon call later that day.”
Donoghue also testified Thursday that Trump appeared to threaten to fire him along with Acting Attorney General Rosen for refusing to back up his claims of unsubstantiated voter fraud. “He said, ‘People tell me I should get rid of you two. I should take you out and make a change in leadership, put in Jeff Clark and maybe something will finally get done,’” Donoghue said.
He recalled telling Trump in response: “Mr. President, you must have the leadership that you want, but you must understand that the United States Department of Justice operates on facts, evidence, and law.
“And that’s not going to change, so you can have whatever leadership you want, but the position of the department is not going to change.”
Take a look at what attorneys general, both Democrats and Republicans, have said about sticking to their oaths to the Constitution: pic.twitter.com/PmFz54LsP4
— January 6 Committee (@January6thCmte) June 23, 2022
Draft letter at heart of Clark’s effort to undo Trump’s electoral loss: Panel
A draft letter from Clark and his adviser, Ken Klukowski, falsely alleging voter fraud to be sent to the Georgia state legislature emerged at the center of Thursday’s hearing.
Had this letter been published on official Justice Department letterhead, it would have falsely informed all Americans, including those who might be willing to come to Washington on January 6, that President Trump’s voter fraud allegations were likely very real,” the committee commissioner said. said President Liz Cheney.
Donoghue said Clark emailed him and Rosen the draft letter on Dec. 28. “It was so extreme for me [that] It was hard for me to understand at first,” Donoghue testified.
Donoghue said he told Clark that “for the department to insert itself into the political process in this way … would have had serious consequences for the country. It is very possible that it has led us to a constitutional crisis, and I wanted to make sure that you understood the seriousness of the situation.”
Clark has declined to say whether he discussed his draft Justice Department letter with Trump. In a video of his testimony before the committee, Clark invoked the Fifth Amendment and “executive privilege” to avoid answering questions.
“Fifth and executive privilege again, simply reaffirmed by an abundance of caution,” he told the panel.
GOP Lawmakers Call for Pardons: Former Trump White House Official
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the committee during an interview that Republican congressmen Matt Gaetz and Mo Brooks “argued for a blanket pardon” in relation to Jan. 6.
“Mr Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon and had been doing so since early December. I’m not sure why,” Hutchinson told the panel, according to a video of his testimony played during Thursday’s hearing. “Mr. Gaetz approached me to ask if he could meet with Mr. Meadows to receive a presidential pardon.”
When asked if other lawmakers have contacted her about pardons, Hutchinson said Congressmen Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert and Scott Perry have, too. Congressman Jim Jordan “talked about pardons from Congress, but he never asked me for one. It was more for an update on whether the White House was going to pardon members of Congress,” he said.
Hutchinson added that Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of Trump’s top allies, has asked the White House counsel for a pardon.
“The only reason I know of to ask for a pardon is because you believe you have committed a crime,” House committee member Adam Kinzinger said Thursday.