Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Pre-emptive pardons, Trump’s Justice Department plan, and other highlights from Thursday, Jan. 6 hearing

The investigation into the fifth hearing of the House select committee on Jan. 6 focused on how then-President Trump tried to abuse the Justice Department on Thursday to convince states and courts that election fraud was widespread.

Hearing led by Rep. Adam Kinsinger (R-Ill.), Committee Chairman Benny Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chairman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), testimony from senior Justice Department officials It details Trump’s exhaustive efforts to get the department to embrace internet conspiracy theories, and explains how close the president is to appointing an official in his ranks whose primary qualification is allegiance to Trump.

Here are some key takeaways from the hearing:

Republican congressman seeks pardon

Several Republican members of Congress have sought presidential pardons ahead of Trump’s departure, a move that suggests elected officials who embrace and perpetuate the so-called big lie are at least somewhat concerned that their involvement could land them in legal trouble.

In a Jan. 11 email obtained by the committee, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) suggested that “at the request of Matt Gates,” Trump “give a general (for all purposes) pardon” to ” Every congressman and senator who voted” rejected the Electoral College votes submitted by Arizona and Pennsylvania. “

“The general tone was, ‘We could be prosecuted because we’ve defended the president’s position on these matters,'” former White House lawyer Eric Hirschman told investigators in recorded testimony. “please forgive [Gaetz] From the beginning to today, the discussion about anything is very extensive. “

In conclusion, Trump White House officials told the committee that the list of congressmen seeking pardons includes Rep. Brooks, Gates (R-Fla.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gomert (R-Tex.) State Republican), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also talked about pardons, according to Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. But Hutchinson told investigators Jordan never asked her about pardoning herself.

“It’s more of an update on whether the White House will pardon members of Congress,” she said.

Trump’s “friends in Congress,” as Kinsinger put it, sought pardons because “they knew every bit of what they were doing was a lie and a mistake.”

Trump tells DOJ, just ‘said it was corrupt’

Trump appears to have reached a tipping point in his failed effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and he doesn’t care whether the Justice Department can substantiate any of his campaign’s allegations of fraud. He just hopes the department will create enough doubts in the election for his Republican allies in Congress to do their part to keep him in office.

Trump asked to meet with Justice Department leaders Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue on Dec. 15, 2020, after he learned Rosen would be acting attorney general, with Donoghue serving as acting deputy. Rosen testified that between Dec. 23, 2020, and Jan. 3, 2021, Trump “called or met with him almost every day, with one or two exceptions, such as Christmas.”

Rosen and Donoghue testified at Thursday’s hearing that Trump was increasingly determined that the Justice Department wasn’t doing its job. They say they have repeatedly steered him away from online conspiracy theories and demanded the appointment of a special adviser on election fraud, meeting with his campaign advisers, filing a case with the Supreme Court and sending a letter to the state legislature alleging election fraud .

When Donoghue told the president that the Justice Department could not change the outcome of the election, he said Trump was quick to respond.

“That’s not what I asked you to do,” Trump said, according to Donoghue, who took notes during the conversation. “All I’m asking you to do is say it’s corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen. … We have an obligation to tell people this is an illegal, corrupt election.”

Of course, elections are free and fair, with Joe Biden winning the Electoral College, as well as millions in the national popular vote.

Trump was very close to appointing an environmental lawyer as acting attorney general, but a group of White House and Justice Department officials eventually persuaded him. Rosen asked to meet with the president after attorney Jeffrey Clark told Rosen he made and accepted the president’s offer to be acting attorney general.

That meeting in the Oval Office on Sunday, January 3, 2021, was attended by Rosen, Donoghue, Clark and Assistant Artie. General Steven Engel, Hirschman, and two attorneys in the White House Office of Counsel. Its purpose is to determine whether the department should change leadership.

Clark told the room that if he took over the Justice Department, he would conduct an investigation to uncover widespread fraud, and that he would send a letter he drafted claiming that the Justice Department was “looking into various irregularities in the 2020 election. ,” and found that “significant concerns may have affected election outcomes in multiple states.”

“I said: ‘Fine, [expletive]”Congratulations,'” Hirschman told investigators. “‘You have just admitted that your first steps or actions as attorney general would have committed a felony. …you are clearly the right person for the job. ‘”

In fact, Justice Department officials testified that Clark had no support in the Oval Office.

“I pointed out that Jeff Clark was not even qualified to be attorney general,” Donoghue told investigators. “He was never a criminal lawyer. He never conducted a criminal investigation in his life. He never appeared before a grand jury, let alone a trial jury.”

As Clark touted his experience with complex appeals and civil and environmental litigation, Donoghue said, “That’s right. You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to the office, we’ll call when there’s an oil spill. yours.”

According to Donoghue’s recollection, White House counsel Pat Cipollone described the letter Clark wanted the Justice Department to send as a “murder-suicide agreement” that would “harm everyone who touches it.”

Hirschman called Clark’s proposal “crazy” and quipped: “The only thing you know about the environment and the electoral challenge is that they all start with an E, and based on your responses tonight, I’m not even sure you know.”

Justice Department officials told the president they would resign if Clark was appointed to lead the department, and they said other department leaders would follow them.

“Within 24, 48, 72 hours, there could be hundreds of resignations from leadership across the Justice Department because of your actions,” Donoghue said, he told the president. “How does this affect you?”

“No one was going to read the letter,” Engel recalled telling Trump. “What anyone would think is that you passed two attorney generals in two weeks until you got the environmentalists to sign this off. So the story wouldn’t be that the Justice Department found massive corruption that would change the outcome of the election. This It would be a disaster for Jeff Clark.”

Donoghue chimed in, “Steve [Engel] It was pointed out that Jeff Clark would be left in the leadership cemetery, and the comment clearly had implications for the president: the leadership would be gone; Jeff Clark would be left in the cemetery. “

Perry pushes Clark to be attorney general

Perry, Green and other members of Congress meet with Trump in the Oval Office on December 21, 2020. The next day, Perry brought Clark to the White House, according to the White House visitor log. Perry later told a local news station that Trump asked to introduce Clark, so he said yes.

Two days later, Rosen began his first official day as acting attorney general. He recalled having a “special reference” with Trump on Christmas Eve, which lasted about 15 or 20 minutes.

During that call, Trump went on to claim that the election was stolen and that there was widespread fraud. Trump said the Justice Department should have done more, and asked if he knew Clark or who he was.

“I told him I did it, and the conversation went on,” Rosen said. “But when I hung up, I was wondering how the president knew Mr. Clark? I didn’t know they had ever met or that the president was involved in any issues in the civil sector.”

Clark, the acting director of the Justice Department’s civil division and the director of the environment and natural resources division, were not involved in the investigation into election fraud.

In testimony, Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani told investigators, “I do recall saying to people that someone should be in charge of the Justice Department, and they’re not afraid to do anything about their reputation, Because justice is full with such people.”

Meadows aide Hutchinson told investigators that Perry “wanted Mr. Clark, Mr. Jeff Clark to take over the Justice Department.”

On December 26, 2020, Clark “apologised” and “confessed” in a meeting with Rosen and Donoghue and told them he would notify them if anyone asked him to attend another similar meeting.

That same day, however, Perry pushed Meadows in a text message to promote Clark at the Justice Department.

Donoghue warned that Clark’s draft memo “could have enormous constitutional, political and social implications for the country,” he told Clark. “What you are doing is tantamount to the U.S. Department of Justice interfering in the outcome of a presidential election.”

In what has been described as a “controversial” meeting between Clark and two of the department’s top officials, Clark continued to push his position, including calling witnesses and conducting his own investigation.

Towards the end of the meeting with Trump, the president said people told him he should “get rid of” Rosen and Donoghue and promote Clark.

“Maybe it will eventually make a difference,” Trump said, according to Donoghue, who said he responded like this: “Mr. President, you should have the leadership you want. But understand that the DOJ is in fact, Evidence and legal functions, those are not going to change. So you can have whatever leadership you want, but the position of the department is not going to change.”

US News.

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