During this fifth public hearing, the House of Inquiry Committee on the assault on Capitol Hill attacked, on Thursday, Donald Trump’s “brazen” attempts to push the Department of Justice to support his false allegations of electoral fraud. around the presidential election won by Joe Biden. The nine elected officials – seven Democrats and two Republicans repudiated by their party – detailed the pressures exerted by Donald Trump on the ministry.
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“Donald Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate. He wanted the Department of Justice to help him legitimize his lies and baselessly declare the election was rigged,” noted Commission Chairman Bennie Thompson. “It was a brazen attempt to use the Justice Department to advance the President’s personal political interests.”
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.
Former acting deputy minister Richard Donoghue testified that he repeatedly told the former US president that his allegations of voter fraud were unfounded. Donald Trump simply repeated having won the presidential election. “The president said, ‘Just say the election was rigged and leave the rest in my hands and those of the elected Republicans,’” Richard Donoghue said, based on his notes taken during a telephone conversation with Donald. Trump and former acting minister Jeffrey Rosen.
An attempt to impose his vision
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 had found no evidence of fraud that could have changed the outcome of the November ballot.
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.
The Commission learned that Jeffrey Clark had prepared a letter to Georgia elected officials, in which he claimed that the department had uncovered evidence of massive fraud in Georgia, which was untrue. But other Justice Department officials refused to sign the letter, and White House legal adviser Eric Herschmann said he told Jeff Clark that sending the letter would have been “a crime.”
Donald Trump announced to Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue that he was advised to fire them and appoint Jeffrey Clark as acting minister. “I answered him (…) Mr. President, you must have the officials who suit you, but you must understand that the Ministry of Justice operates on the basis of facts, evidence and laws. And that will not change,” said Richard Donoghue.
The former assistant minister also said he warned Jeffrey Clark that his efforts to substantiate allegations of fraud “were nothing less than interference by the Department of Justice in the results of a presidential election”.
Conclusions expected before the end of the summer
Jeffrey Rosen, Richard Donoghue, Steven Engel, a senior ministry official, and Pat Cipollone, a White House lawyer, threatened to resign during a meeting with the president on January 3, warning that they would take the top federal prosecutors across the country. Donald Trump has given up naming Jeffrey Clark, who refused to testify before the commission of inquiry.
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. 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.
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