The Jan. 6 committee will hear from former Justice Department officials who faced down a relentless pressure campaign from Donald Trump over the 2020 presidential election results while suppressing a bizarre challenge from within their own ranks.
The hearing Thursday will bring attention to a memorably turbulent stretch at the department as Trump in his final days in office sought to bend to his will a law enforcement agency that has long cherished its independence from the White House. The testimony is aimed at showing how Trump not only relied on outside advisers to press his election fraud claims, but also tried to leverage the powers of federal executive branch agencies.
The witnesses will include Jeffrey Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. Three days earlier, Rosen was part of a tense Oval Office showdown in which Trump contemplated replacing him with a lower-level official, Jeffrey Clark, who wanted to champion Trump’s claims of election fraud.
Two other former department officials, Rosen’s top deputy, Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, are also scheduled to testify. Both warned Trump at the White House meeting that they’d resign, and that many of the department’s lawyers would follow, if he replaced Rosen with Clark.
“You could have a situation here, within 24 hours, you have hundreds of people resigning from the Justice Department,” Donoghue has said he told Trump. “Is that good for anyone? Is it good for the department? Is it good for the country? Is it good for you. It’s not.”
Only then did Trump relent. The night, and later his administration, ended with Rosen still in power.
The hearing is the fifth this month by the committee investigating the run-up to the insurrection at the Capitol, when Trump loyalists stormed the building as lawmakers were certifying the results of the election won by Joe Biden. Witnesses have included police officers attacked at the Capitol as well as lawyers, a television executive and local election officials who all resisted demands to alter results in Trump’s favor.
The committee last week presented videotaped depositions of former Attorney General William Barr, who castigated Trump’s fraud claims as “bull—,” “bogus” and “idiotic” and resigned after failing to convince the president of that.
Thursday’s hearing will focus on what happened next as Rosen, Barr’s top deputy, took over the department and found himself immediately besieged by Trump’s demands for Justice Department action.
In one phone conversation, according to handwritten notes taken by Donoghue and made public by lawmakers last year, Trump directed to Rosen to “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”
Around that time, Trump was introduced by a Republican congressman, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, to Clark, who’d joined the department in 2018 as its chief environmental lawyer and was later appointed to run its civil division. Clark was earlier subpoenaed by the committee to give a deposition but will not be among the witnesses Thursday.
Clark, according …read more
Source:: Politics Headlines
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