January 6 U.S. Congressional panel sheds light on Trump’s pressure on Justice Department

WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) – Donald Trump has lobbied top Justice Department officials almost daily in the run-up to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, urging officials to reverse his election defeat by 2020 so that he could illegally hold onto power.

That was Thursday’s testimony by Jeffrey Rosen, a former acting attorney general in former President Trump’s administration, before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Jan. 6.

Rosen said that in the days leading up to Jan. 6, when Congress convened to formally certify Democrat Joe Biden as the next president, Trump “repeatedly asserted that the Justice Department had not done enough” to investigate false claims that the election was “stolen”. “by electoral fraud.

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“Between December 23 (2020) and January 3 (2021), the President called or met with me virtually every day, with one or two exceptions like Christmas Day,” Rosen said.

Rosen also testified that Trump raised the possibility of a “special counsel” being appointed to investigate voter fraud and that Rosen met with Trump associates, including Rudy Giuliani, who were pushing the false narrative of voter fraud.

Former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue testified that Trump told Justice Department officials, “What I’m just asking you to do is say he was corrupt and let the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”

Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, tweeted: “This is compelling evidence. Coupled with other testimony, this demonstrates both the substantial involvement and corrupt intent of Trump, the mindset required.”

The committee also put the focus of Thursday’s hearing on the activities of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official and staunch Trump ally.

Clark’s failed efforts to become acting attorney general, replacing Rosen, were detailed, along with his efforts to get the Justice Department to write letters urging several election battleground states to take action to declare Trump 2020 winner, instead of Democrat Joe Biden, who won both. the popular vote and the Electoral College vote by wide margins.

“Donald Trump has offered Mr. Clark the position of Acting Attorney General, replacing Mr. Rosen, on the understanding that Mr. Clark will send this letter and take other actions as requested by the President,” the Republican Representative said. Liz Cheney, committee vice-chair.

The idea was vigorously opposed by Justice Department officials, some of whom threatened to resign if it went ahead.

The hearing began shortly after it was revealed that federal law enforcement raided Clark’s home.

“Donald Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate. He wanted the Justice Department to legitimize his lies,” committee chairman Bennie Thompson said at the start of the hearing.

BEFORE DAWN RAID

Russ Vought, the former director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget who recently hired Clark to work for his legal advocacy group Center for Renewing America, confirmed the raid on Clark’s home on Twitter.

He said more than a dozen federal law enforcement officials searched Clark’s home in a pre-dawn raid, “put him out on the street in his pajamas and took his electronics. “.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed there was law enforcement activity Wednesday in Lorton, Va., a suburb of Washington near where Clark lives, but declined to elaborate. details.

Former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel also testified Thursday.

Clark provided a deposition to the select committee, and the committee showed excerpts in which he repeatedly invoked his legal right not to answer questions. On Twitter earlier this year, Clark called himself “one of the top targets of the politically motivated J6 committee.”

According to committee aides, Justice Department officials were told to take steps to encourage some states, such as Arizona and Georgia, to stage Trump wins even if Biden was the winner of those contests.

The Department of Justice is investigating whether there was a conspiracy to come up with alternative lists of bogus voters in battleground states in an attempt to nullify the election results.

According to a subpoena seen by Reuters that focuses on the fake voters list in Georgia, investigators are looking for copies of documents from October 2020 related to “any effort, plan or attempt to serve as a voter in favor of Donald J. Trump and/or (Vice President) Mike R. Pence.”

They are also looking for copies of communications between potential voters and any federal government employees, as well as communications involving Trump allies, including attorneys Giuliani and John Eastman.

In a fiery speech outside the White House on Jan. 6, Trump repeated his bogus allegations of voter fraud. His supporters stormed the Capitol, sending lawmakers and Pence fleeing for their lives.

Four people died on January 6, one shot by police and the others from natural causes. Some 140 police officers were injured and one who fought the rioters died the next day. Four officers later died by suicide.

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Reporting by Richard Cowan, Sarah N. Lynch and Moira Warburton, additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Rose Horowitch; Editing by Scott Malone, Rosalba O’Brien and Howard Goller

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