Lawmakers investigating Thursday’s attack on the US Capitol detailed Donald Trump’s efforts to enlist the Justice Department in his plan to reverse his defeat to Joe Biden – a move to replace his head with a loyal one. who was “interfering with the outcome of the presidential election. ,
In the fifth hearing of its year-long investigation into the January 2021 uprising, a House of Representatives panel described pressure on Trump officials to escalate his false claims that his presidency was stolen by widespread voter fraud.
“Donald Trump didn’t want the Justice Department to investigate. He wanted the Justice Department to help legitimize his lies, calling the election blatantly corrupt,” said committee chairman Benny Thompson.
Lawmakers revisited tensions between prosecutors in days when Trump tried to install his own man at the top of the department.
“It was a brazen attempt to use the Justice Department to advance the president’s personal political agenda,” Thompson said.
Underlining the intensity of Trump’s pressure on the department, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said that in late December 2020 and early January 2021, the president contacted him almost daily.
“At one time he had raised the question of being a special counsel for electoral fraud…. They raised whether the Justice Department would file a lawsuit in the Supreme Court,” Rosen said.
“On a couple of occasions, there were questions about making a public statement or holding a press conference.”
The DOJ followed a flurry of claims of Trump’s election fraud, but Rosen said no evidence had been presented to officials.
Oval Office Showdown
At the time, Trump began to elevate a little-known mid-level department official named Jeffrey Clark, who embraced the outgoing president’s conflicting principles.
Trump pushed for Clark to install Rosen as attorney general, and Clark reversed the department’s conclusion that there was no evidence of fraud that could influence the election.
But Trump was forced to back down from a revolt in the senior ranks of the department at an Oval Office meeting on January 4, which was detailed by witnesses.
Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue, Steven Engel and another high-ranking White House lawyer named Pat Cipollone threatened to resign en masse, warning that if Trump went ahead with his plan he would face “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people.” Will take top federal prosecutors with them. ,
“I said that Jeff Clarke is not even capable of serving as attorney general. He has never been a criminal lawyer. He has never conducted a criminal investigation in his life,” Donoghue recalled telling Trump.
Donoghue said he told Clark: “You’re an environmental lawyer. How can you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when the oil spill happens?”
He also recalled Clarke’s warning that his mission to advance Trump’s election fraud claims was “no less than the interference of the United States Department of Justice in the outcome of the presidential election.”
‘Facts, Evidence and Law’
Under live questioning, Donoghue confirmed that he had reprimanded Trump after the then-president insisted that the department could only “say that the election was corrupt” and “leave the rest to me.”
Rosen said Trump had asked him to seize voting machines from state governments during a December 31 meeting and Rosen again declined, explaining that there was no justification for doing so.
Donoghue recalled Trump being agitated and told both officials that they had been advised to sack him and promote Clark.
“I replied, as I think I did before…’ Mr. President, you must have the leadership you desire, but understand that the United States Department of Justice is based on facts, evidence, and law. works. And they’re not going to change.'”
Clarke did not appear before the committee and asserted his Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating himself more than 100 times during his statement.
Federal investigators searched Clark’s home on Wednesday in a case that made headlines.
The US attorney in Washington did not comment on the cause of action, but the Center for Renewing America, where Clarke works, confirmed the finding, calling it a “weapon of the government.”
Adding to the drama, Hollywood actor Sean Penn was at Thursday’s hearing as a guest of former police officer Michael Fanon, who was seriously injured on January 6 and testified about his ordeal last year.
Trump wanted the Justice Department to advance his political agenda.
Read all the latest news, breaking news, watch top videos and watch Live TV right here.