The House committee hearing on January 6 today focuses on former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark

The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol focused Thursday’s hearing on the efforts of then-President Donald Trump and a former Justice Department official. Jeffrey Clark to pressure the department to help nullify the 2020 election results.

Trump wanted to fire acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen – who had just taken office in December 2020 after the Attorney General Bill Barr’s resignation became official – and to replace him with Clark, an environmental lawyer who had never prosecuted a criminal case. Representative Adam Kinzinger, who led the interrogation on Thursday, said Clark’s only qualification was that “he would do whatever the president wanted him to do.”

Clark’s installation and the pressure campaign on the Justice Department was “essentially a political coup,” said committee chairman Representative Bennie Thompson.

In video testimony, former White House attorney Eric Herschmann said of Clark that “the best I can say is that the only thing you know about environmental and electoral challenges is that they both start with an ‘E’.”

Three former Justice Department officials testified before the committee on Thursday — former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue, former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and former assistant attorney general Steven Engel. Donoghue showed handwritten notes he had taken during a call with Trump, in which the former president said, “Suffice it to say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the [Republican] Congressmen”.

Capitol Riot Investigation
Steven Engel, former Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, from left, Jeffrey Rosen, former Acting Attorney General, and Richard Donoghue, former Assistant Attorney General, are sworn in to testify.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP


Trump’s determination to install Clark as the country’s top law enforcement officer was apparent — the White House call logs as of January 3, 2021 shown by the committee already referred to Clark as the acting attorney general. But all the deputy attorneys general had threatened to resign if Clark was installed to head the Justice Department, former assistant attorney general Steven Engel, who headed the Office of the Legal Counsel, testified on Thursday, and that reality convinced Trump to reconsider.

Donoghue testified on Thursday that Clark wanted to send a letter to the Georgia Legislature from the Department of Justice questioning the integrity of the election, a move that “may well have led us into a constitutional crisis” had that plan been allowed to go ahead. in front of. said Donoghue.

After the 2020 election, Trump relentlessly pressured the Justice Department to investigate his allegations of voter fraud, even after they had been investigated and refuted. At one point, when the Justice Department refused to act on a conspiracy theory claiming that Italian satellites were swapping votes from Trump to Biden, the Defense Department did some investigations. Donoghue dismissed the theory as “absurd”.

Kinzinger said the panel learned that former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller ended up calling the attaché in Italy to investigate the Italian satellite allegation.

Donoghue’s handwritten notes noted that Trump told top Justice Department officials, “You may not be following the internet the way I do.”

“This is one of the best examples of how far President Trump would go to stay in power,” Kinzinger said. “Searching the internet to support your conspiracy theories.”

Meanwhile, CBS News learned that there was a search of Clark’s home Wednesday morning.

It was also revealed on Thursday that Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz and other members of the Republican Party of Congress have asked the White House for pardon, according to recorded communications and recorded testimonies from former White House aides.

Five days after the Capitol Hill attack, Representative Mo Brooks sent the White House a letter “at the request of Matt Gaetz” recommending that the president give “general pardons to the following groups of people: every congressman and senator who voted to reject the Electoral Colleges of Arizona and Pennsylvania.”

Brooks, meanwhile, responded to the revelation of his apology in a text message to CBS News: he said that “there was a concern that Democrats would abuse the justice system by prosecuting and imprisoning Republicans who acted in accordance with their duties.” constitutional or statutory under 3 USC 15.”

The committee did not set dates for the next hearings, which Thompson said earlier this week would likely be in July.

Ellis Kim contributed to this report.

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