The January 6 select committee’s final public hearing last Thursday shed considerable new light on former President Donald Trump’s attempts to arm the Justice Department in the final months of his tenure as part of his plot to cancel the 2020 election and stay in power.
The hearing began just hours after federal investigators raided the home of Jeffrey Clark, who was one of the key Justice Department figures implicated in Trump’s schemes. He denied any wrongdoing related to Jan. 6.
Three Trump appointees testified in person Thursday, joining a growing list of Republicans who have been sworn in to provide damning information about Trump’s post-election shenanigans. The witnesses were former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue and Steven Engel, who ran the department’s legal counsel office.
If you missed last Thursday’s hearing, find the main takeaways from the event:
Select committee has the goods on GOP congressional pardons
Thursday’s hearing highlighted the role Trump’s Republican allies in Congress played in furthering his efforts to try to overturn the election — and how many of them asked for forgiveness after Jan. 6.
The House Select Committee focused in particular on the efforts of Rep. Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania Republican who linked Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to the White House in December 2020.
CNN previously reported on Perry’s role, and the Court Records Committee released text messages Perry exchanged with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about Clark.
“He wanted Mr. Clark — Mr. Jeff Clark to take over the Justice Department,” Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Meadows aide, said of Perry in an excerpt from his deposition released during Thursday’s hearing.
The committee also released new details about Republican members of Congress who are seeking clemency after Jan. 6, including Perry and Representatives Mo Brooks of Alabama and Matt Gaetz of Florida.
“President Trump has asked me to send you this letter. This letter is also in response to a request from Matt Gaetz,” said an email Brooks sent to the White House in January 2021, according to the committee. “As such, I recommend that the President grant blanket (all-purpose) pardons to the following groups of people.”
The email included a group of names of “all congressmen and senators who voted to reject the ballot submissions from the Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral colleges.”
Thursday’s hearing was led by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who was widely ostracized by the Republican conference for his role on the Jan. 6 committee.
“My colleagues here take the oath as well. Some of them didn’t keep theirs and instead chose to spread the big lie,” Kinzinger said before discussing the pardons.
Kinzinger retires at the end of his term.
In a December 2020 Oval Office meeting
The hearing brought to life a high-stakes Oval Office meeting in December 2020, where Trump considered firing the acting attorney general and installing Clark, who was willing to use the powers of federal law enforcement. to encourage state lawmakers to reverse Trump’s loss.
At the start of these summer hearings, we already knew a lot about the meeting. But on Thursday, for the first time, we heard live testimony from some of the Justice Department officials who were in the room, including Rosen, then acting attorney general. (He survived the meeting, after Trump was told there would be mass resignations at the Justice Department if he replaced Rosen with Clark.)
Trump’s White House attorney Eric Herschmann said Clark was repeatedly “knocked over the head” during the meeting. He told the committee that he called Clark a “fucking hole” and that his plans would have been illegal. He also said Clark’s plan to send letters to the battleground states was “crazy”.
In videotaped testimony that aired Thursday, Donoghue said he eviscerated Clark’s credentials during the meeting, explaining that Clark was woefully underqualified to serve as attorney general.
“You’re an environmental lawyer. How about we go back to your office and we’ll call you if there’s an oil spill,” Donoghue said in the deposition, describing what he told Clark during the incident. the meeting at the White House.
Donoghue said then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone called Clark’s plan a “murder-suicide pact.”
Donoghue himself described Clark’s plan as “impossible” and “absurd”.
“That will never happen,” Donoghue said of the plan. “And it will fail.”
Thanks to the pushback of Rosen, Donoghue, Herschmann, Cipollone and perhaps others, Trump did not follow through with his plan, which would have put the country in uncharted waters and increased the chances that Trump would succeed in his attempt. putsch.
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