WASHINGTON. The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol plans Thursday to release new evidence of how President Donald Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him stay in office after he lost the 2020 election, aides said. Wednesday.
At its fifth public hearing this month, scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Thursday, the commission plans to hear testimony from three former senior Justice Department officials who are expected to lay out ways Mr. Trump attempted to abuse the attorney general’s office to bring him down. defeat, an exceptional case of interference by the president in the work of the country’s law enforcement agencies for personal purposes.
Committee aides said the commission would detail how Mr. Trump unsuccessfully pushed department officials to falsely claim widespread electoral fraud, filed lawsuits in his campaign’s favor, and appointed a conspiracy theorist as a special adviser to investigate the election. He will also trace his failed attempts to send false letters to government officials to rig elections and, finally, to replace an acting attorney general who refused to go along with his plans.
Mr. Trump eventually backed down after agency officials threatened mass resignations, but the committee presents his actions as a critical link in the former president’s multi-level effort to disrupt the election.
Witnesses to testify are Jeffrey A. Rosen, former Acting Attorney General; Richard P. Donoghue, former Acting Deputy Attorney General; and Steven A. Engel, former Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel.
House Committee Hearing Topics January 6
Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican and committee member, is expected to play a central role in questioning witnesses and presenting evidence. He hinted that the hearings could reveal more information about members of Congress who asked for clemency after Jan. 6.
The story of Mr. Trump trying to interfere with the Justice Department to stay in office was well documented by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 6, but House investigative aides said the hearing Thursday will contain new revelations.
Time and time again, department officials told Mr. Trump after the election that his allegations of widespread fraud were false and encouraged him to backtrack on some of his most extreme proposals.
One dramatic moment occurred at a meeting in the Oval Office on January 3, 2021, when Jeffrey Clark, the department’s obscure lawyer who was strategizing to keep Trump in office, suggested that the agency issue a legal opinion to the vice president. President Mike Pence advises him on what he can do during a joint session of Congress scheduled three days later, when lawmakers were due to meet for the official vote count that would confirm Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
“This is an absurd idea,” Mr. Engel intervened, according to testimony he gave to the committee. “It is not the job of the Department of Justice to provide legislative officials with legal advice as part of their duties.”
Mr. Trump then stepped forward and told Justice Department officials, who had repeatedly told him that his claims of widespread fraud were false, that they should not be talking to Mr. Pence.
“No one should be talking to the vice president here,” Trump said, according to Engel.
Mr. Trump continued to repeatedly push Mr. Pence to try to reverse the election results.
Also at that meeting, Mr. Trump offered to fire Mr. Rosen, who advised him that the 2020 election was not stolen, and replace him with Mr. Clark, who was willing to take his orders.
“Sir, I would resign immediately,” Mr. Donoghue said, according to testimony he gave. “There’s no way I’m going to sit a minute under that guy,” he said of Mr. Clark.
Mr. Trump then turned to Mr. Engel and said, “Steve, you’re not retiring, are you?” Mr. Engel replied: “Of course, Mr. President. You leave me no choice.
Justice Department officials also witnessed communications between Pat A. Cipollone, a White House attorney, and Mr. Trump. The Committee has called on Mr. Cipollone to testify publicly, but he has so far refused.
Mr. Cipollone opposed a plan put forward by Mr. Clark, who wanted to send official letters to several state legislatures falsely warning them that the election results might have been stolen and urging them to reconsider the confirmed election results.
“The letter this guy wants to send is a murder-suicide pact letter,” Mr. Cipollone told Mr. Trump, according to Mr. Donoghue. “It will harm anyone who touches it. And we must have nothing to do with this letter. I never want to see this letter again.”
The commission plans to hold at least two more hearings in July, according to chairman, Representative Benny Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi. These sessions are expected to detail how the violent extremist mob attacked Congress and how Mr. Trump did nothing to stop the violence for more than three hours.