What to watch for in Thursday’s January 6 committee hearing

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Thursday’s hearing before the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection turns the panel’s focus toward how former President Donald Trump tried to use the Justice Department to bolster his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Three top officials who led the Justice Department in the final days of the Trump administration will testify at Thursday’s hearing about how the then-President and his allies sought to enlist the department to give their baseless fraud allegations credibility and how Trump considered replacing the acting attorney general with an official who bought into his claims of fraud, according to committee aides.

Aides said that the hearing would also scrutinize discussions inside the White House about the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump’s claims of voter fraud, which came up at a heated December 2020 Oval Office meeting with Sidney Powell and Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and the head of the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel will testify on Thursday.

After Rosen was named acting attorney general in December 2020 following the resignation of William Barr — who had publicly said the Justice Department did not uncover substantial evidence of voter fraud — Trump and his allies began pressuring Rosen over the fraud claims.

Trump’s push began what was a tumultuous period at the Justice Department in the lead-up to January 6, 2021, when the then-President considered replacing Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, then the department’s top energy lawyer who had pushed Trump’s fraud claims inside the Justice Department.

The DOJ officials, along with lawyers in the White House counsel’s office, took part in a dramatic January 3, 2021, meeting in the Oval Office with Clark and Rosen present, where Trump ultimately backed away from his plan to install Clark as the head of the Justice Department — after Rosen, Donoghue and Engel had threatened to resign in protest.

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According to a copy of his written statement that he will deliver at Thursday’s hearing, Rosen will affirm that the Justice Department was not provided with any evidence of widespread voter fraud.

“Some argued to the former President and public that the election was corrupt and stolen. That view was wrong then and it is wrong today, and I hope our presence here today helps reaffirm that fact,” Rosen will say.

Thursday’s hearing is the fifth the committee is holding this month unveiling the findings of its investigation, building upon previous sessions that have focused on other aspects of Trump’s pressure campaign. It’s also likely the last hearing of the month, with the final hearings pushed back until July.

The schedule is still fluid and subject to change, but a round of hearings in July is the committee’s current goal, select committee Chair Bennie Thompson, a Democratic congressman from Mississippi, told reporters on Wednesday.

Clark will be a major focus

The committee’s past two hearings about the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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