The January 6th hearings yesterday focused on the attempts by Trump and his minions to use the Department of Justice to advance his lies that the election was fraudulent. In yet another gripping day of testimony, three of the most senior justice department officials during the last days of his presidency (acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, acting deputy assistant general Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel) describe how Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and others enlisted the assistant attorney general for civil affairs Jeffrey Clark to try and get the justice department to send a letter drafted by Clark, to Georgia elections officials saying that the election in that state was invalid. Clark would meet with Trump, defying rules that prevented justice department officials from meeting with White House officials without approval of the attorney general, a policy designed to prevent undue political pressure.
The committee’s top Republican Liz Cheney is offering more details about the actions of justice department official Jeffrey Clark, who had his house raided today by federal investigators.
According to Cheney, Clark and another justice department lawyer drafted a letter addressed to the Georgia state legislature, which would have said the department had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states, including the state of Georgia”, and that the legislature should convene and consider approving a new slate of electors.
All three officials, all Republicans appointed by Trump, refused to go along with what they considered to a completely unjustified action. The extent of Trump’s and the Republican party’s cynical disregard for truth and the law is captured by Trump telling Donoghue, “Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen” .When Donoghue refused, Trump then wanted to fire Rosen and Donoghue and replace them with Clark, so that the letter could be sent.
Clark had the gall to tell his boss Rosen on Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 that Trump was going to replace Rosen with Clark and offered him the position of being his deputy! Rosen refused. There was a dramatic meeting at the White House that evening at which they were all present at which Trump asked what he had to lose by firing Rosen and Donoghue and replacing them with Clark. Donoghue said that every single member of the senior leadership would resign immediately.
“You’re gonna lose your entire department leadership. Every single (assistant attorney general) will walk out. Your entire department of leadership will walk out within hours. And I don’t know what happens after that. I don’t know what the United States attorneys are going to do,” Donoghue said. “My guess would be that many of them would have resigned.”
Trump decided not to go ahead with his crazy plan.
What emerged from yesterday’s hearings was that Trump and his minions were getting their information from the internet and seizing on every crazy conspiracy theory that the internet threw up and demanding that the justice department investigate, however insane it was. In fact, at one point Trump complained to Donoghue, “You guys may not be following the internet the way I do”. There was one internet theory about how Italy had used military satellites to switch votes to Biden.
Former Justice Department officials recall receiving a 20-minute video on a far-right election conspiracy theory that argued Italy had tampered with the election, which former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue called “patently absurd.”
“I emailed the acting attorney general and said, ‘Pure insanity.’ That was my impression of the video, which was patently absurd,” he said.
Donoghue emphasized that the baseless allegations about the vote-changing scheme were debunked, but then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows continued to press this theory, committee member Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who led Thursday’s hearing, said.
Former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller testified that Meadows asked him “‘Can you call the Defense attaché in Rome and find out what the heck is going on because I’m getting all these weird, crazy reports and probably the guy on the ground knows more than anything.'”
Kinzinger said the panel discovered that Miller did direct the attaché to investigate the claim.
You can read more about the ‘Italygate’ nonsense here.
Clark was questioned by the committee and avoided answering questions by pleading the Fifth Amendment over a hundred times. It was revealed that Clark’s house had been the subject of a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday that required him to be on the streets in his pajamas, the day before his name figured prominently in the hearings as a craven stooge of Trump.
Federal investigators raided the home of former Trump justice department official Jeffrey Clark early Wednesday in connection with the department’s sprawling criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The search of Clark’s home in suburban Virginia and the seizure of his electronic devices suggested an escalating inquiry into his involvement in the purported election plot edging ever closer to Donald Trump, according to a source familiar with the matter and one of his associates.
The hearings also revealed the names of six Republican congresspersons who had promoted the Big Lie of election fraud and who had pleaded with the White House to get preemptive pardons for themselves, suggesting that they knew they were possibly doing something illegal. The names were Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Scott Perry (PA.), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.). Brooks’s request also asked for blanket pardons for those who had opposed the ratification of the slates of electors on January 6, 2021.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a member of the panel who played an elevated role in Thursday’s proceedings, presented an email from Brooks, dated Jan. 11, 2021, in which the congressman asked for presidential pardons for himself, Gaetz, and lawmakers who objected to the Electoral College vote for Arizona and Pennsylvania.
“President Trump asked me to send you this letter. This letter is also pursuant to a request from Matt Gaetz,” the email reads.
“As such, I recommend that President give general (all purpose) pardons to the following groups of people:,” the email adds. “Every Congressman and Senator who voted to reject the electoral vote submission of Arizona and Pennsylvania.”
Despite his obsequiousness towards Trump and willingness do anything for him, Trump returned the favor by withdrawing his endorsement of Brooks in his Alabama primary race earlier this week that he lost to a Trump-endorsed candidate. Trump, sociopath that he is, demands loyalty from others but is not loyal to anyone but himself and perhaps a few members of his family, though I would not be surprised if he abandons even them if his own interests are threatened.
Stephen Colbert gave his views on yesterday’s hearing.