Representatives Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert and Scott Perry were among the Republican members of Congress who asked the then president. Donald Trump to isolate them from future prosecutions by giving them presidential pardon in the days immediately following the attack on US Capitol on January 6 last year.
Their names were revealed at the hearing in the House of Representatives committee committee on Jan. 6 on Thursday, which focused on Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to help in his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.
Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, the Republican committee member who chaired the hearing, suggested that seeking pardon meant that his colleagues at least suspected they could be prosecuted later.
“All I know is that if you are innocent, you probably will not go out and seek a pardon,” he said.
The select committee played video footage excerpts from deposits of former Trump White House employees who described Republican members’ efforts to obtain pardon after Mr. Trump’s plan led to an attack on the U.S. capital by his supporters.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special assistant to the president, said Mr Gaetz and Mr Brooks had both called for a “general pardon” for members involved in a December meeting to plan events on January 6. .
“Mr Gaetz personally pressed for a pardon and has been doing so since early December,” she said in a pre-recorded testimony played by the committee.
Mrs Hutchinson also said Congressman Jim Jordan was talking about congressional pardons but did not specifically ask for one. She said of Marjorie Taylor Greene: “I heard she had asked the White House for a pardon.”
Former White House Deputy Attorney Eric Herschmann, who confirmed to the panel that Mr Gaetz was asking for pardon, added: “The general tone was, ‘we can be prosecuted because we were defensive against … the president’s views. to these things. ” ”
Brooks, a Republican from Alabama, requested pardon in an email on January 11, 2021 to Trump’s assistant, Molly Michael, which he wrote was sent on behalf of himself and Mr. Gaetz, a Republican from Florida who reportedly is under investigation for sex trafficking. Sir. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any criminal activity.
“It is clear that deep pockets and vicious Socialist Democrats (with perhaps some liberal Republican help) will abuse the US legal system by attacking several Republicans with false accusations stemming from our recent fight for honest and accurate elections, and related speeches. , ”Wrote Mr. Brooks.
Brooks added that he recommended that Trump issue “general (all-purpose) pardons” to all those GOP members of parliament and the Senate who had voted against confirming the 2020 election, as well as those who had signed a law . briefly calls on the Supreme Court to cast electoral votes from swing states won by Mr Biden.
The committee’s vice president, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, had previously claimed that others in Mr Trump’s circle had sought pardon in the wake of the January 6 attack, including “several” members of Congress, during the panel’s first public hearing earlier this month.
While the identities of most of the GOP members had remained unknown until now, Cheney had previously revealed that pardon was requested by Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and John Eastman, the former law professor at Chapman University, who pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw out electoral votes from swing states won by Mr. Biden at the joint congress on January 6, 2021, where Mr. Biden’s victory was to be attested.
In an email from Mr Eastman to Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, sent just days after the attack, the conservative legal scholar wrote: “I have decided that I should be on the pardon list if it is still under construction”.
Nick Akerman, a veteran defense attorney who served as assistant U.S. attorney in New York and as deputy special prosecutor under Watergate, told The independent that a request for pardon is a strong indicator that the person requesting it knows that he has broken the law.
“This is overt evidence of a person who believes they have committed a crime and is concerned about being prosecuted – an innocent person is not asking for pardon,” he said. “A request for pardon when there is not even an investigation underway is overwhelming evidence of guilt.”
Sir. Perry, who has denied seeking pardon, was a prominent figure in the panel’s Thursday presentation, in which former Trump-era Justice Department officials testified about the Pennsylvania Republican’s role in a proposal by Jeffrey Clark, an environmental lawyer who put Mr. Trump to. was then head of the department’s civil department.
The Republican in Pennsylvania had actually introduced Mr. Trump to Mr. Clark, who urged the president to fire then-Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and insert him at the top of the DOJ so he could pressure state lawmakers to overturn election results in their states based on allegations . of fraud which the department had already refuted.
After Mr. Clark told Mr. Rosen that he was elevated to Mr. Rosen’s current job, Mr. Rosen and other top executives in the Department of Justice confronted him and Mr. Trump in a controversial meeting of the Oval Office.
One of the former officials who attended the meeting, former acting deputy prosecutor Richard Donoghue, described at the hearing how he and the other DOJ leaders told Mr Trump that they would resign if he made Mr Clark an environmental law specialist without experience as a litigation lawyer or prosecutor – their boss.
“I said, Mr President, I would resign immediately. I’m not working a minute for this guy [Mr Clark] which I have just declared was completely incompetent. “
He said Mr Trump then approached Steven Engel, then head of the DOJ’s legal adviser’s office, and asked if he would resign. In response, he said that Mr Engel told the President: “Absolutely I, Mr President, you would not give me any choice.”
Sir. Donoghue said he then told the president he would “lose [his] the entire department management, ”if he went through with Mr. Clark’s plan.
“Every single agent will go out of you, your whole Department of Justice will go out in a matter of hours,” he recalled saying.
The committee also provided evidence that Mr Trump’s White House advisers had found out that Mr Clark’s proposed actions, including launching investigations into the baseless conspiracy theories being pushed by Mr Trump and his allies, and sending the letter to state legislators urging them to overturn the election would be illegal.
Sir. Herschmann, the former deputy attorney general at the White House, told select investigators that Mr Clark’s plan was “fraudulent” and said his reaction was to tell the aspiring acting justice minister that it could expose him to criminal charges.
“I said … fuck a hole … congratulations: You just admitted that your first step you would take as Minister of Justice would be to commit a crime and violate Rule 6-c. You are clearly the right candidate for this job, ”he recalled, saying.
Sir. Clark, an experienced environmental lawyer who now works for a pro-Trump think tank called the Center for Renewing America, was one of numerous former Trump administration officials summoned to testify before the select committee. He had initially opposed appearing, but when he appeared under the threat of a criminal referral for contempt of Congress, he invoked his fifth right of amendment against self-incrimination more than 100 times.
The hearing focusing on his behavior in the days leading up to the Capitol attack comes as the department where he once served as a senior official is now investigating him for his role in Mr Trump’s plan to remain in power against the wishes of voters.
According to several reports, FBI agents raided Mr. Clark’s home Wednesday, according to a search warrant.