During this fifth public hearing, the nine elected officials – seven Democrats and two Republicans repudiated by their party – detailed the pressure exerted by Mr. Trump on the ministry to have it officially declare that the election had been rigged and to he is launching federal lawsuits parallel to those launched by the president’s lawyers.
“Donald Trump didn’t just want the Department of Justice to investigate. He wanted the Department of Justice to help him legitimize his lies and groundlessly declare the election was rigged,” noted Commission Chairman Bennie Thompson.
The elected officials returned to the tensions within the ministry in the days preceding January 6, 2021, when the defeated president had faced an internal revolt while trying to install one of his relatives at the head of the institution.
“It was a brazen attempt to use the Justice Department to advance the president’s personal political interests,” Thompson added.
Former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen said he came under intense pressure from Mr. Trump, who contacted him almost daily between Dec. 31 and Jan. 3.
“At one point, he suggested appointing a special prosecutor in charge of electoral fraud. On several occasions, he asked me to meet with his personal lawyer (Rudy) Giuliani,” Mr. Rosen said.
Former acting deputy minister Richard Donoghue testified that he repeatedly told the former US president that his allegations of voter fraud were unfounded.
Mr. Trump simply repeated that he had won the presidential election. “The president said: + just say that the election was rigged and leave the rest in my hands and those of the elected Republicans +”, said Mr. Donoghue, based on his notes taken during a telephone conversation with Mr. Trump and ex-acting minister Jeffrey Rosen.
Seeing that the highest officials of the Ministry of Justice refused to bend, the defeated president tried to install one of his relatives at the head of the institution. Jeffrey Clark, a mid-level civil servant who embraced the theories pushed by the president about a rigged election, was to overrule the department’s findings – which found no evidence of fraud that could have changed the outcome of the November ballot.
– “Nonsense” –
Jeffrey Clark was also to intervene on behalf of the ministry to refuse to certify the result of the election in the key state of Georgia, where Joe Biden had won with only 12,000 votes in advance.
But Jeffrey Rosen, Richard Donoghue, Steven Engel, a senior ministry official, and Pat Cipollone, a White House lawyer, threatened to resign during a meeting with Donald Trump on January 3, warning that they would take the top federal prosecutors across the country.
“I pointed out that Jeff Clark did not have sufficient qualifications to become Minister of Justice. He has never pleaded in a criminal case. He never conducted a criminal investigation in his life,” Mr. Donoghue said.
The commission of inquiry announced on Wednesday that two additional sessions would take place in July.
The Congress interrupts its work on July 4 for two weeks.
“The commission continues to receive new evidence which is important for the investigation,” explained a parliamentary source.
In particular, she wants to watch hours of film by documentary filmmaker Alex Holder, who had had access to Mr. Trump and his relatives before and after January 6.
After a year of investigation, the commission wants to present its conclusions before the end of the summer, placing Donald Trump at the heart of “an attempted coup” which culminated in the assault of hundreds of his supporters on the Congress building in Washington on January 6, 2021, as elected officials certify Joe Biden’s victory.
The images of chaos in and around the Capitol had gone around the world and shaken American democracy for a few hours.