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January 6 Panel says it has new evidence of Trump’s pressure on Justice Dept.

Written by Javed Iqbal

WASHINGTON – The House Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol plans to unveil new evidence on Thursday of how President Donald J. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him hold on to power after losing the 2020 election , aides said on Wednesday.

At its fifth public hearing this month, scheduled for Thursday at At 3 p.m., the panel plans to hear testimonies from three former top Justice Department officials who are expected to explain how Mr. Trump tried to abuse the Attorney General’s office to overthrow his defeat, an extraordinary case of a president interfering in the country’s law enforcement apparatus for his own personal purposes.

Committee assistants said the panel would detail how Mr. Trump unsuccessfully pressured State Department officials to falsely declare election fraud, sue in favor of his campaign, and appoint a conspiracy theorist as a special adviser to investigate the election. . It will also track down his failed efforts to send fake letters to government officials to undermine the election results and finally to replace the acting Attorney Generalwho refused to follow his plans.

Mr. Trump eventually withdrew after agency officials threatened with mass resignation, but the committee presents his actions as a critical part of the former president’s lack of efforts to undermine the election.

The witnesses scheduled to testify are Jeffrey A. Rosen, the former acting Attorney General; Richard P. Donoghue, the former Deputy State Attorney; and Steven A. Engel, the former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois and a member of the committee, is expected to play a key role in questioning witnesses and presenting evidence. He has suggested that the hearing could reveal more information about members of Congress seeking pardon after Jan. 6.

The story of how Mr Trump tried to intervene in the Justice Department’s work to keep himself in office has been well documented by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives Committee on January 6, but aides to Parliament’s inquiry said Thursday’s hearing will contains new revelations.

Time and time again, officials in the department told Mr. Trump after the election that his allegations of widespread fraud were false, causing him to withdraw from some of his most extreme proposals.

A dramatic moment came in an Oval Office meeting on January 3, 2021, then Jeffrey Clarka little-known departmental lawyer who had devised strategies on how to keep Mr. Trump in power, suggested that the agency issue a legal statement to Vice President Mike Pence advising him on what actions he could take during the joint congressional meeting. for three days later when lawmakers were to meet for the official election count that would confirm Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

“It’s an absurd idea,” Mr Engel interjected, according to testimony he gave 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.”

Mr. Trump then spoke up and told Justice Department officials who repeatedly told him that his allegations of widespread fraud were false, that they should not talk to Mr. Pence.

“No one should talk to the vice president here,” Mr. Trump according to Mr. Angel.

Mr. Trump would continue push Mr. Pence repeatedly to try to overthrow the election result.

Also at that meeting, Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Rosen, who warned him that the election in 2020 was not stolen, and replace him with Mr. Clark, who was willing to make his bid.

“Sir, I would resign immediately,” said Mr. Donoghue according to a statement he made. “There’s no way I’re earning a minute under this guy,” he said of Mr. Clark.

Mr. Trump then turned to Mr. Angel and said, “Steve, you would not resign, would you?” Sir. Angel replied, “Absolutely I would, Mr. President. You would leave me no choice.”

Justice Department officials also witnessed interactions between Pat A. Cipollone, the White House attorney, and Mr. Trump. The committee has called on Mr Cipollone to testify in public, but has so far refused.

Mr. Cipollone pushed back against a plan put forward by Mr. Clark, who wanted to distribute official letters to several state legislators who erroneously warned them that the election might have been stolen and urged them to reconsider confirmed election results.

“The letter this guy wants to send – that letter is a murder-suicide pact,” said Mr. Cipollone to Mr. Trump according to Mr. Donoghue. “It’s going to hurt everyone who touches it. And we should have nothing to do with that letter. I’ll never see that letter again.”

The panel is planning at least two more hearings by July, according to its chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat. These sessions are expected to describe how a mob of violent extremists attacked Congress and how Mr. Trump did nothing to stop the violence for more than three hours.

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Javed Iqbal

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