Donald Trump was thwarted in his bid to annul the 2020 presidential election by resistance from some of his top Justice Department officials, a congressional hearing heard.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers investigating last year’s attack on the US Capitol heard from some of Trump’s top legal officials on Thursday as they explain how the former president tried to bend the Justice Department to his will.
Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the committee, told his colleagues that Trump might have succeeded had not a handful of people at the top of the department threatened to quit.
Kinzinger said: “When the president tried to abuse the department and install a loyalist at its head, these brave officials refused and threatened to resign. They were willing to sacrifice their careers [for] our country. »
At a hearing earlier in the week, committee members focused on how Trump and his allies pressured officials in the swing states Joe Biden won not to certify their election results.
Thursday’s hearing instead focused on a similar pressure campaign on the Justice Department, which Trump wanted to launch an investigation into his false allegations of widespread voter fraud.
In the midst of this campaign, Bill Barr stepped down as United States Attorney General, to be replaced by his deputy Jeffrey Rosen, while Richard Donoghue became the department’s deputy.
Barr has been one of the star witnesses in the hearings so far, testifying via video that he thought Trump’s voter fraud allegations were “bullshit.”
Donoghue and Rosen testified live Thursday and explained how they tried to persuade Trump on numerous occasions that his claims were false.
Rosen told the committee about a 90-minute call he had with Trump. “As the President was crossing [his claims]I went there little by little to say no, it’s wrong, it’s not true.
Donoghue testified that when he told Trump the DoJ couldn’t nullify an election, the former president replied, “That’s not what I’m asking you to do.
“All I’m asking you to do is say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congress. »
The committee is expected to focus on Trump’s attempts to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a former DoJ official who backed the former president’s claims. Clark circulated a letter in the department at the time that he wanted to send to swing states that Biden had won saying the department had “significant concerns” about the vote.
Department heads refused to send the letter, the committee heard, and then resisted Trump’s attempts to replace Rosen with Clark by threatening to resign en masse.
Separately, federal agents searched Clark’s home Wednesday morning, according to people familiar with the action. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington would not comment, but confirmed that there was “law enforcement activity in the Lorton, Virginia area yesterday.”
Russ Vought, the head of the Center for Renewing America, where Clark works, said in a statement, “Yesterday, more than a dozen DoJ law enforcement officials searched Jeff Clark’s home during a raid before dawn, put him on the streets in his pajamas, and took his electronics. All because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud.