WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill plans to uncover new evidence Thursday about how President Donald J. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after losing the 2020 election, aides said Wednesday.
At his fifth public hearing this month, scheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m. his defeat, an extraordinary example of a president interfering with the nation’s law enforcement apparatus for his own personal ends.
Committee aides said the panel would detail how Trump unsuccessfully pressured department officials to falsely state there was widespread election fraud, file lawsuits to benefit his campaign and appoint a conspiracy theorist as special counsel. to investigate the elections. He will also track down their failed attempts to send bogus letters to state officials to subvert election results and ultimately to replace acting attorney generalwho refused to go along with his plans.
Trump ultimately backed down after agency officials threatened mass resignations, but the committee casts his actions as a critical thread in a multi-layered effort by the former president to subvert the election.
Witnesses scheduled to testify are Jeffrey A. Rosen, former Acting Attorney General; Richard P. Donoghue, former Acting Deputy Attorney General; and Steven A. Engel, former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.
The Topics of the House Committee Hearings on January 6
Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican and committee member, is expected to play a central role in questioning witnesses and presenting evidence. He has hinted that the hearing could reveal more information about members of Congress who requested pardons after Jan. 6.
The story of how Trump tried to intervene in the workings of the Justice Department to keep himself in office has been well documented by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Jan. 6 committee, but those attending the House investigation House said Thursday’s hearing will contain new revelations.
Time and time again, Trump was told by department officials after the election that his claims of widespread fraud were false, prompting him to back down on some of his most extreme proposals.
A dramatic moment occurred in a meeting in the Oval Office on January 3, 2021, when Jeffrey ClarkA little-known department attorney who had been strategizing on how to keep Trump in power suggested that the agency issue a legal opinion to Vice President Mike Pence advising him what actions he might take during the joint session of Congress. for three days later, when legislators would meet for the official electoral count that would confirm the victory of Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“That is an absurd idea,” Engel chimed in, according to testimony he provided to the committee. “It is not the role of the Department of Justice to provide legislative officials with legal advice on the scope of their duties.”
Trump then spoke out, telling Justice Department officials, who repeatedly told him his claims of widespread fraud were false, not to talk to Pence.
“Nobody should be talking to the vice president here,” Trump said, according to Engel.
Mr. Trump would go on to repeatedly push Mr. Pence to try to annul the results of the elections.
Also at that meeting, Trump proposed firing Rosen, who was letting him know the 2020 election was not stolen, and replacing him with Clark, who was willing to do his bidding.
“Sir, I would resign immediately,” Donoghue said, according to a statement he made. “There’s no way I’m doing a minute with this guy,” he said of Mr. Clark.
Trump then turned to Engel and said, “Steve, you wouldn’t quit, would you?” Mr. Engel responded: “I absolutely would, Mr. President. You wouldn’t leave me a choice.
Justice Department officials also witnessed interactions between Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Mr. Trump. The committee has asked Mr. Cipollone to testify publicly, but he has so far refused.
Mr. Cipollone rejected a plan put forth by Mr. Clark, who wanted to distribute official letters to various state legislatures falsely alerting them that the election may have been stolen and urging them to reconsider the certified election results.
“That letter that this guy wants to send, that letter is a murder-suicide pact,” Cipollone told Trump, according to Donoghue. “It will harm anyone who touches it. And we should have nothing to do with that letter. I never want to see that letter again.”
The panel is planning at least two more hearings for July, according to its chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi. Those sessions are expected to detail how a mob of violent extremists attacked Congress and how Trump did nothing to stop the violence for more than three hours.