Trump and His Allies Sought to Corrupt Justice Dept., Former Officials Tell Jan. 6 Committee

Donald Trump and his allies in Congress relentlessly tried to corrupt the Department of Justice to help overturn the 2020 presidential election, according to former top department officials, who testified before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol on Thursday.

Three of the Justice Department’s leaders during the Trump administration’s final, chaotic weeks headlined the committee’s fifth hearing, explaining the different ways they deflected efforts by the former President and his associates to allow the agency to be used as a pawn in Trump’s efforts to reverse Joe Biden’s win.

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Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue testified that Trump told him in a Dec. 27, 2020, meeting, “Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”

While much of the hearing focused on the testimony of the former Department officials, one of the most striking moments came afterward, when the committee aired taped testimony from White House lawyer Eric Hershmann and a top aide to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, both of whom said that several Republicans in Congress sought presidential pardons after Jan. 6, including Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

Previously, the committee had only named Perry as one of the members of Congress who had sought a pardon. Most of the lawmakers attended a Dec. 21, 2020, meeting at the White House where they discussed last-ditch plans to block the transfer of power to Biden, including objecting to the electoral votes of decisive states Biden won during the congressional certification of the Electoral College on Jan. 6, 2021.

“The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a member of the Jan. 6 panel, who led questioning on Thursday.

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While no such pardons were ever revealed, it’s not clear whether Trump may have granted any of the lawmakers clemency in secret. Former U.S. Pardon Attorney Margaret Love told TIME the President could have issued pardons to members of Congress without ever publicizing them or even notifying the Justice Department.

Much of the focus of the panel’s hearing was on former Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, whose efforts to exploit the nation’s top law enforcement agency to push baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud quickly brought him to Trump’s attention. In December 2020, Trump and Clark pushed for the DOJ to send Georgia election officials a letter that falsely said the department had “identified significant concerns” that would throw the state’s election results into doubt.

After Donoghue and other high-ranking officials resisted Trump’s pressure, the former president and several Republican members of Congress mobilized a campaign to replace the current acting attorney general at the time, Jeff Rosen, with Clark. They argued that promoting Clark would ensure that the Justice Department would use its authority to …read more

Source:: Time – Politics

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