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Hearing 6 January day 5

Written by Javed Iqbal

Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, left, swear in Richard Donoghue, former U.S. Deputy State Attorney, from right, Jeffrey Rosen, former U.S. Attorney General, and Steven Engel.  , former Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Office of the Legal Adviser, during a hearing in Washington, DC on Thursday.
Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, left, swear in Richard Donoghue, former U.S. Deputy State Attorney, from right, Jeffrey Rosen, former U.S. Attorney General, and Steven Engel. , former Assistant U.S. Attorney General for the Office of the Legal Adviser, during a hearing in Washington, DC on Thursday. Doug Mills / The New York Times / Bloomberg / Getty Images / Pool

The committee’s most recent public hearing on 6 January on Thursday threw a considerable new light about former President Donald Trump’s attempt to arm the Justice Department in the final months of his tenure as part of his plan to overthrow the 2020 election and stay in power.

The hearing began just hours after federal investigators looted the home of Jeffrey Clark, who was one of the key people in the Justice Department involved in Trump’s plans. He has denied any wrongdoing in connection with January 6th.

Three nominated Trump nominees testified in person on Thursday, joining a growing list of Republicans who have taken the oath to provide condemnatory information about Trump’s post-election insults. The witnesses were previously acting Minister of Justice Jeffrey Rosenhis deputy Richard Donoghueand Steven Engelwho headed the department’s Office of Legal Adviser.

Here are takeaways from Thursday’s hearing:

Inside an Oval Office meeting in December 2020: The hearing brought to life a high-profile Oval Office meeting in December 2020, where Trump considered firing the acting Attorney General and appointing Clark, who was willing to use the powers of federal law enforcement to encourage state legislators to overthrow Trump’s losses.

Going into these summer hearings, we already knew a lot about the meeting. But on Thursday, we heard for the first time live testimonies from some of the Justice Department officials who were in the room, including Rosen, the then acting Attorney General. (He survived the meeting after Trump was told there would be mass resignation in the Justice Department if he replaced Rosen with Clark.)

White House Attorney Eric Herschmann said Clark was repeatedly “crushed over the head” during the meeting. He told the committee he called Clark a “f — ing a – hole” and said his plans would have been illegal. He also said Clark’s plan to send letters to states on the battlefield was “distressed.”

In a videotaped testimony played Thursday, Donoghue said he removed Clark’s credentials during the meeting and explained that Clark was deeply underqualified to act as Attorney General.

“You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill,” Donoghue said at the landfill, describing what he told Clark at the White House meeting.

Donoghue said the then White House lawyer, Pat Cipollone, called Clark’s plan a “murder-suicide pact.”

Donoghue himself described Clark’s plan as “impossible” and “absurd”.

“It’s never going to happen,” Donoghue said of the plan. “And it’s going to fail.”

Thanks to the setbacks of Rosen, Donoghue, Herschmann, Cipollone and perhaps others, Trump did not follow up with his plan, which would have put the country in unknown waters and would have increased the chances of Trump succeeding. coup attempt.

A toned-down hearing contained a vivid description of Trump’s press campaign: Thursday’s cases contained testimony from three lawyers who described behind-the-scenes incidents in the Department of Justice and the White House. It was a departure from Tuesday’s and previous hearings, which contained emotional testimony from election officials and included shocking video footage of the Capitol massacre.

But even if there were no rhetorical fireworks, the content of the testimony was crucial to understanding the breadth of Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election. Former Justice Department officials described what they saw and heard as Trump tried to recruit them to help him stay in power – and how he tried to oust them when they refused to do his bidding.

The material was tight at times. Witnesses reconstructed White House meetings and phone calls with Trump. They were asked to dissect their handwritten notes of some of these interactions – something that is more common in criminal cases and less common in a congressional hearing.

Yet the steadfast testimony of witnesses sheds new light on events that we have known for more than a year. And the whole hearing evoked memories of the Nixon era because it was all about how a sitting president tried to arm the powers of federal law enforcement to help his political campaign.

Read more important takeaways here.

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Javed Iqbal

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