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Jan. 6 panel hears of former President Trump’s pressure on Justice Department

Warning: This live video may contain profanity, violence and disturbing scenes. Viewer discretion is advised. The Jan. 6 committee is hearing from former Justice Department officials who faced down a pressure campaign from former President Donald Trump over the 2020 presidential election results while suppressing a bizarre challenge from within their own ranks.Check for live updates from the hearing below:4:00 p.m. ETThe hearing has gone to a 10-minute recess. The committee and witnesses will return soon.3:55 p.m. ETFormer acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said that for almost two weeks straight over in late December 2020 and early January 2021, former President Donald Trump contacted him nearly every single day to voice his displeasure with the Department of Justice. Clark said that Trump continually attempted to convince Clark of the unfounded voter fraud claims. 3:45 p.m. ETRichard Donoghue, who was the top deputy to the attorney general during the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, is testifying.He previously spoke with the Jan. 6 committee behind closed doors.3:40 p.m. ETGOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who is leading today’s hearing, said that Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ official, was willing to do whatever Trump wanted, including overthrowing the election.”So who is Jeff Clark? An environmental lawyer with no experience relevant to leading the entire Department of Justice. What was his only qualification? That he would do whatever the president wanted him to do, including overthrowing a free and a fair democratic election,” Kinzinger said.Trump sought to install Clark as attorney general just days before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as top officials refused to go along with Trump’s voter fraud claims.3:35 p.m. ETKinzinger said the goal of today’s hearing is to show “Trump’s total disregard for the Constitution and his oath.””I want to take a moment now to speak directly to my fellow Republicans. Imagine the country’s top prosecutor — with the power to open investigations, subpoena, charge crimes and seek imprisonment — imagine that official pursuing the agenda of the other party instead of that of the American people as a whole. And if you’re a Democrat, imagine it the other way around,” he said.Related video below: Kinzinger not seeking reelection3:20 p.m. ETIn his opening statement, Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chair, said that Trump wanted the DOJ to “legitimize” his election lies.”Donald Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate; he wanted the Justice Department to help legitimize his lies, to baselessly call the election corrupt,” Thompson, D-Miss., said.Thompson said that today’s witnesses all pushed back against Trump’s attempts.3:10 p.m. ETActor Sean Penn is in attendance at today’s hearing. The Oscar winner said he is there to “observe” as a citizen.Earlier this year, Penn was in Ukraine making a documentary about the war with Russia. 3:00 p.m. ETThe hearing has begun. The committee will take a look at former President Donald Trump’s pressuring of the Department of Justice to overturn the 2020 election.Three former DOJ officials will testify about their experiences with Trump and the administration during the turbulent weeks after Election Day 2020.2:55 p.m. ETThe hearing is expected to begin at 3 p.m., with Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger set to lead the charge today on behalf of the committee. Kinzinger is one of only two GOP members on the panel, the other being Rep. Liz Cheney, who is the vice chair.The Associated Press’ original story is below.Today’s hearing brings attention to a memorably turbulent stretch at the department as Trump in his final days in office sought to bend to his will a law enforcement agency that has long cherished its independence from the White House. The testimony is aimed at showing how Trump not only relied on outside advisers to press his false claims of election fraud but also tried to leverage the powers of federal executive branch agencies.The witnesses will include Jeffrey Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. Three days earlier, Rosen was part of a tense Oval Office showdown in which Trump contemplated replacing him with a lower-level official, Jeffrey Clark, who wanted to champion Trump’s bogus election fraud claims. Two other former department officials, Rosen’s top deputy, Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, are also scheduled to testify. Both warned Trump at the White House meeting that they’d resign and that many of the department’s lawyers would follow if he replaced Rosen with Clark.”You could have a situation here, within 24 hours, you have hundreds of people resigning from the Justice Department,” Donoghue has said he told Trump. “Is that good for anyone? Is it good for the department? Is it good for the country? Is it good for you. It’s not.”Only then did Trump relent. The night, and later his Republican administration, ended with Rosen still in power.The hearing is the fifth this month by the House committee investigating the run-up to the insurrection at the Capitol, when Trump loyalists stormed the building as lawmakers were certifying the results of the election won by Democrat Joe Biden. Witnesses have included police officers attacked at the Capitol as well as lawyers, a television executive and local election officials who all resisted demands to alter results in Trump’s favor.The committee last week presented videotaped depositions of former Attorney General William Barr, who castigated Trump’s fraud claims as “bogus” and “idiotic” and resigned after failing to convince the president of that.Thursday’s hearing will focus on what happened next as Rosen, Barr’s top deputy, took over the department and found himself immediately besieged by Trump’s demands for Justice Department action.In one phone conversation, according to handwritten notes taken by Donoghue and made public by lawmakers last year, Trump directed to Rosen to “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”Around that time, Trump was introduced by a Republican congressman, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, to Clark, who’d joined the department in 2018 as its chief environmental lawyer and was later appointed to run its civil division. Clark was earlier subpoenaed by the committee to give a deposition but will not be among the witnesses Thursday.Clark, according to statements from other Justice Department officials, met with Trump despite being ordered not to by bosses at the department and presented himself as eager to aid the president’s efforts to challenge the election results. A report released last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee that painted Clark as a relentless advocate for Trump included a draft letter pushing Georgia officials to convene a special legislative session to reconsider the election results.Clark wanted the letter sent, but superiors at the Justice Department refused.The situation came to a head on Jan. 3, 2021, a Sunday, when Clark informed Rosen in a private meeting at the Justice Department that Trump wanted to replace him with Clark as acting attorney general. Rosen, according to the Senate report, responded that “there was no universe I could imagine in which that would ever happen” and that he would not accept being fired by a subordinate.Rosen then contacted the White House to request a meeting. That night, Rosen, Donoghue and Engel, along with Clark, gathered with Trump and top White House lawyers for a contentious, hours-long Oval Office meeting about whether the president should follow through with his plans for a radical leadership change at the department.According to testimony given by Rosen, Trump opened the meeting by saying, “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election.”Donoghue and Engel made clear to Trump that they and large numbers of other Justice Department officials would resign if Trump fired Rosen. White House lawyers said the same. Pat Cipollone, then the White House counsel, said the letter that Clark wanted to send was a “murder-suicide pact.”“Steve Engel at one point said, ‘Jeff Clark will be leading a graveyard. And what are you going to get done with a graveyard,’ that there would be such an exodus of the leadership,” Donoghue told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So it was very strongly worded to the president that that would happen.”Donoghue also sought to dissuade Trump from believing that Clark had the legal background to do as the president wished since he was not a criminal prosecutor at the department.“And he kind of retorted by saying, ‘Well, I’ve done a lot of very complicated appeals and civil litigation, environmental litigation, and things like that,’” Donoghue said. “And I said, ‘That’s right. You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill.’”

Warning: This live video may contain profanity, violence and disturbing scenes. Viewer discretion is advised.

The Jan. 6 committee is hearing from former Justice Department officials who faced down a pressure campaign from former President Donald Trump over the 2020 presidential election results while suppressing a bizarre challenge from within their own ranks.

Check for live updates from the hearing below:

4:00 p.m. ET

The hearing has gone to a 10-minute recess. The committee and witnesses will return soon.

3:55 p.m. ET

Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said that for almost two weeks straight over in late December 2020 and early January 2021, former President Donald Trump contacted him nearly every single day to voice his displeasure with the Department of Justice.

Clark said that Trump continually attempted to convince Clark of the unfounded voter fraud claims.

3:45 p.m. ET

Richard Donoghue, who was the top deputy to the attorney general during the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, is testifying.

He previously spoke with the Jan. 6 committee behind closed doors.

Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue testifies during the fifth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC, on June 23, 2022. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

MANDEL NGAN

Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue testifies during the fifth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2022.

3:40 p.m. ET

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who is leading today’s hearing, said that Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ official, was willing to do whatever Trump wanted, including overthrowing the election.

“So who is Jeff Clark? An environmental lawyer with no experience relevant to leading the entire Department of Justice. What was his only qualification? That he would do whatever the president wanted him to do, including overthrowing a free and a fair democratic election,” Kinzinger said.

Trump sought to install Clark as attorney general just days before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as top officials refused to go along with Trump’s voter fraud claims.

3:35 p.m. ET

Kinzinger said the goal of today’s hearing is to show “Trump’s total disregard for the Constitution and his oath.”

“I want to take a moment now to speak directly to my fellow Republicans. Imagine the country’s top prosecutor — with the power to open investigations, subpoena, charge crimes and seek imprisonment — imagine that official pursuing the agenda of the other party instead of that of the American people as a whole. And if you’re a Democrat, imagine it the other way around,” he said.

Related video below: Kinzinger not seeking reelection

3:20 p.m. ET

In his opening statement, Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chair, said that Trump wanted the DOJ to “legitimize” his election lies.

“Donald Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate; he wanted the Justice Department to help legitimize his lies, to baselessly call the election corrupt,” Thompson, D-Miss., said.

Thompson said that today’s witnesses all pushed back against Trump’s attempts.

3:10 p.m. ET

Actor Sean Penn is in attendance at today’s hearing. The Oscar winner said he is there to “observe” as a citizen.

Earlier this year, Penn was in Ukraine making a documentary about the war with Russia.

US actor Sean Penn (C) sits next to Officer Michael Fanone (2nd R) of the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department, as they attend the fifth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC, on June 23, 2022. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

U.S. actor Sean Penn (C) sits next to Officer Michael Fanone (2nd R) of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, as they attend the fifth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2022.

3:00 p.m. ET

The hearing has begun. The committee will take a look at former President Donald Trump’s pressuring of the Department of Justice to overturn the 2020 election.

Three former DOJ officials will testify about their experiences with Trump and the administration during the turbulent weeks after Election Day 2020.

2:55 p.m. ET

The hearing is expected to begin at 3 p.m., with Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger set to lead the charge today on behalf of the committee. Kinzinger is one of only two GOP members on the panel, the other being Rep. Liz Cheney, who is the vice chair.

The Associated Press’ original story is below.

Today’s hearing brings attention to a memorably turbulent stretch at the department as Trump in his final days in office sought to bend to his will a law enforcement agency that has long cherished its independence from the White House. The testimony is aimed at showing how Trump not only relied on outside advisers to press his false claims of election fraud but also tried to leverage the powers of federal executive branch agencies.

The witnesses will include Jeffrey Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. Three days earlier, Rosen was part of a tense Oval Office showdown in which Trump contemplated replacing him with a lower-level official, Jeffrey Clark, who wanted to champion Trump’s bogus election fraud claims.

Two other former department officials, Rosen’s top deputy, Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, are also scheduled to testify. Both warned Trump at the White House meeting that they’d resign and that many of the department’s lawyers would follow if he replaced Rosen with Clark.

“You could have a situation here, within 24 hours, you have hundreds of people resigning from the Justice Department,” Donoghue has said he told Trump. “Is that good for anyone? Is it good for the department? Is it good for the country? Is it good for you. It’s not.”

Only then did Trump relent. The night, and later his Republican administration, ended with Rosen still in power.

The hearing is the fifth this month by the House committee investigating the run-up to the insurrection at the Capitol, when Trump loyalists stormed the building as lawmakers were certifying the results of the election won by Democrat Joe Biden. Witnesses have included police officers attacked at the Capitol as well as lawyers, a television executive and local election officials who all resisted demands to alter results in Trump’s favor.

The committee last week presented videotaped depositions of former Attorney General William Barr, who castigated Trump’s fraud claims as “bogus” and “idiotic” and resigned after failing to convince the president of that.

Thursday’s hearing will focus on what happened next as Rosen, Barr’s top deputy, took over the department and found himself immediately besieged by Trump’s demands for Justice Department action.

In one phone conversation, according to handwritten notes taken by Donoghue and made public by lawmakers last year, Trump directed to Rosen to “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”

Around that time, Trump was introduced by a Republican congressman, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, to Clark, who’d joined the department in 2018 as its chief environmental lawyer and was later appointed to run its civil division. Clark was earlier subpoenaed by the committee to give a deposition but will not be among the witnesses Thursday.

Clark, according to statements from other Justice Department officials, met with Trump despite being ordered not to by bosses at the department and presented himself as eager to aid the president’s efforts to challenge the election results. A report released last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee that painted Clark as a relentless advocate for Trump included a draft letter pushing Georgia officials to convene a special legislative session to reconsider the election results.

Clark wanted the letter sent, but superiors at the Justice Department refused.

The situation came to a head on Jan. 3, 2021, a Sunday, when Clark informed Rosen in a private meeting at the Justice Department that Trump wanted to replace him with Clark as acting attorney general. Rosen, according to the Senate report, responded that “there was no universe I could imagine in which that would ever happen” and that he would not accept being fired by a subordinate.

Rosen then contacted the White House to request a meeting. That night, Rosen, Donoghue and Engel, along with Clark, gathered with Trump and top White House lawyers for a contentious, hours-long Oval Office meeting about whether the president should follow through with his plans for a radical leadership change at the department.

According to testimony given by Rosen, Trump opened the meeting by saying, “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election.”

Donoghue and Engel made clear to Trump that they and large numbers of other Justice Department officials would resign if Trump fired Rosen. White House lawyers said the same. Pat Cipollone, then the White House counsel, said the letter that Clark wanted to send was a “murder-suicide pact.”

“Steve Engel at one point said, ‘Jeff Clark will be leading a graveyard. And what are you going to get done with a graveyard,’ that there would be such an exodus of the leadership,” Donoghue told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So it was very strongly worded to the president that that would happen.”

Donoghue also sought to dissuade Trump from believing that Clark had the legal background to do as the president wished since he was not a criminal prosecutor at the department.

“And he kind of retorted by saying, ‘Well, I’ve done a lot of very complicated appeals and civil litigation, environmental litigation, and things like that,’” Donoghue said. “And I said, ‘That’s right. You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill.’”



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