The House’s Jan. 6 fifth public hearing of the committee will examine former President Donald Trump’s attempt to install loyalists in leadership positions in the Justice Department so they can use the full weight of the federal law enforcement apparatus to pressure state legislatures to void the 2020 election.
Thursday’s session of the panel will feature a trio of senior Justice Department officials from the Trump era, including Jeffrey Rosen, who served as acting attorney general after the resignation of William Barr, the former assistant attorney general by acting Richard Donoghue and Steven Engel, the former assistant district attorney. general who ran the DOJ’s office of legal counsel during the final days of the Trump administration.
All three have previously spoken at length about Mr. Trump’s actions in the days leading up to the Capitol riot, each having previously testified in depositions taken as part of a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into Mr. Trump to cling to the presidency against the wishes of American voters.
The Senate investigation found that Mr. Trump “repeatedly asked DOJ leadership to endorse his false claims that the election was stolen and to assist him in his efforts to overturn the election results. as soon as Mr. Rosen took charge of the department, including seven separate phone calls and meetings between the two men in December 2020.
Mr. Trump also tried to pressure Mr. Rosen into resigning in another Oval Office meeting on Jan. 3, 2021 — just three days before the Capitol attack — to replace him with then-acting leader Jeffrey Clark. of the Civil Division of the DOJ.
Mr. Clark had ingratiated himself with the then president by promising to use the authority of the acting attorney general’s post to send a letter to swing state officials claiming to inform them that the department had “taken note” of what amounted to a litany of false claims that were then being circulated by Mr. Trump’s allies in Congress and in the conservative media.
During testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Rosen told senators that Mr. Clark approached him and revealed that Mr. Trump planned to elevate him to Mr. Rosen’s position. But the plan never went into effect because Mr. Rosen, Mr. Donoghue and other senior DOJ officials – as well as then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone – threatened to resign in mass.
A select committee aide who briefed reporters on Thursday’s hearing plans said the panel would use the 3 p.m. to pressure the Department of Justice to help cancel the 2020 election.” .
“We will look specifically at how the president tried to abuse the department to advance his own agenda in order to stay in power at the end of his term. And we’ll see how that’s really different from historical precedent and how the president was using the DOJ for his own purposes.”
Specifically, the aide said the hearing would examine Mr. Trump’s attempts to pressure the department into filing baseless lawsuits in the name of or in conjunction with his failed re-election campaign, how he attempted to appoint a ‘special advocate’ – attorney Sidney Powell – to pursue his baseless claims and how the department resisted his efforts.
While the previous Senate investigation revealed some details about Mr Clark’s attempt to take control of the Justice Department, the aide said the select committee would shine a spotlight on his machinations.
“There are parts of the story that have yet to be told. So we will provide greater context with … more detail, and show how this hearing builds on the previous one and fits into the overall story that the select committee presents,” they said.
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