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At least five of Donald Trump’s allies have sought clemency from the White House after backing his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, witnesses have said.
The names of the five were given to the United States House inquiry into the capitol riot on January 6, 2021.
The fifth day of hearings focused on how the then-president pressured Justice Department (DoJ) officials as he tried to hold on to power.
According to witnesses, Mr Trump told officials to “say the 2020 election was corrupt” and added, “Leave the rest to me and Republican congressmen.”
When his demands were denied, he reportedly threatened to install loyalist Jeffrey Clark as head of the DoJ.
“Donald Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate,” Speaker Bennie Thompson, a Democratic congressman from Mississippi, said during the hearing.
“He wanted the Justice Department to help him legitimize his lies, call the election baseless corrupt, appoint a special counsel to investigate alleged voter fraud, send a letter to six state legislatures urging them to consider to alter the election results.
Mr. Clark’s installation only began when most of the other Justice Department leaders threatened to resign en masse if Mr. Trump went ahead.
The demands were set out in a draft letter, believed to have been co-authored by Mr. Clark, suggesting the DOJ had found irregularities that could have affected the outcome of the election. Mr. Trump wanted it sent to all the states that played a central role in his defeat, but it never came out.
The letter was called a “murder-suicide pact” by White House attorney Pat Cipollone, according to pre-recorded testimony from Trump’s White House attorney Eric Herschmann, adding that “it will hurt everyone who will touch it”.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a member of the Republican committee, told the hearing: “The president didn’t bother to actually investigate the facts.
“He just wanted the Justice Department to put its stamp of approval on the lies.”
Mr. Trump’s interactions with DoJ officials represent one piece of an emerging historical record that committee members say proves he orchestrated an illegal, multi-pronged campaign to invalidate his defeat.
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Interactions include Mr. Trump summoning Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen for a “tense” Oval Office meeting on Jan. 3, 2021, with Clark and White House attorneys.
It was three days before the official vote count in Congress.
Mr. Trump never responded to requests for clemency, the hearing was told.
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