A hearing on Jan 6 will aim to show Trump pressured the DOJ to undermine election

Ryan J. Reilly, Kyle Stewart, Haley Talbot, Garrett Haake, and Jonathan Allen

Ryan J. Reilly, Kyle Stewart, Haley Talbot, Garrett Haake, and Jonathan Allen

1 hr ago Ryan J. Reilly, Kyle Stewart, Haley Talbot, Garrett Haake, and Jonathan Allen

NBC News provided

In Washington According to panel officials, the House Jan. 6 committee provided evidence on Thursday suggesting former President Donald Trump attempted to work with the Justice Department in his unsuccessful effort to rig the 2020 election.

According to Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., “Donald Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate.” He wanted the Justice Department to support his fabrications, falsely accuse the election of being rigged, appoint a special counsel to look into possible electoral fraud, and write a letter requesting that six state legislatures consider overturning the election results.

The primary exhibit in the hearing’s opening round on Thursday was the draft letter, which Trump supporter Jeffrey Clark co-wrote. It claimed that Justice had discovered irregularities that would have had an impact on the election’s result and asked officials to get legislatures back together to nominate substitute slates of Trump-supporting electors, however it was never sent.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the panel’s vice chair, said: “Had this letter been released on official Department of Justice letterhead, it would have falsely informed all Americans — including those who might be inclined to come to Washington on January 6th — that President Trump’s election fraud allegations were probably very real.”

Trump’s interactions with Justice Department officials, such as a tense meeting in the Oval Office on January 3, 2021, where he considered removing the acting attorney general and replacing him with Clark, are part of a growing historical record that committee members claim shows he planned an illegal multi-pronged campaign to void his victory.

The Justice Department has long been kept at a distance by presidents, which allows the law enforcement organization to operate freely and avoid looking political. But during his tenure in office, Trump disregarded these standards and tried to run the organization’s legal division like his own.

On Thursday, three witnesses—former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue, and former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel—were scheduled to be questioned by Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the two Republicans on the panel.

The panel has already played Bill Barr’s recorded testimony, in which he claimed to have told President Trump that the election was not rigged in December 2020. Before the year was up, Barr, who had previously told the Associated Press that Justice had found no evidence of fraud, resigned.

Congressmen planned to question former Justice Department employees on Thursday about Trump’s efforts to have the department declare that the 2016 election was invalid and later efforts to have Barr’s conclusion overturned. One committee aide said that the panel will pay special attention to a meeting that took place in the Oval Office on January 3 during which Trump threatened to replace Rosen with Clark.

According to a representative for the U.S. attorney’s office, federal officials paid Clark’s residence a visit on Wednesday. In a statement, Russ Vought, Clark’s boss at the Center for Renewing America and a former official in the Trump administration, blasted the “raid” as being political.

The three witnesses will reportedly state that they threatened to resign if Trump chose him for the top position at the Justice Department.

In its four prior public hearings, the committee has provided evidence—in the form of documents and witness testimony—about the actual assault on the Capitol, Trump’s attempts to exert pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence and state officials to help him thwart Joe Biden’s election, and his team’s plan to replace legitimate electors from seven states with slates of “fake electors.”

In an interview with NBC News, Kinzinger said that “there are a lot of people on the edge, especially in the Republican Party and beyond, that didn’t know the full picture.” And now that they have seen the whole story, they are truly astounded by how close we came to losing the election and how audacious this attempt was.