4 Takeaways From Thursday's Jan. 6 Hearing

Trump's pressure on DOJ was relentless
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2022 6:52 AM CDT
4 Takeaways From Thursday's Jan. 6 Hearing
This exhibit from video released by the House Select Committee, shows handwritten notes by Richard Donoghue, former acting Deputy Attorney General.   (House Select Committee via AP)

Thursday's Jan. 6 committee hearing focused on former President Trump's extraordinary attempts to use the Justice Department to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election. Former officials testified that the pressure was relentless and only the threat of hundreds of resignations prevented Trump from installing Jeffrey Clark, a supporter of his election fraud claims, as acting attorney general. Four takeaways from the hearing:

  • Lines were erased. Presidential interference in the inner workings of the Justice Department has "long been frowned upon in the American tradition," but testimony Thursday showed that line was erased under Trump, with the then-president calling or meeting with top officials almost every day to pressure them to investigate his claims, NPR reports. "When you damage our fundamental institutions, it’s not easy to repair them," testified Jeffrey Rosen, who became acting attorney general after Bill Barr's December 2020 resignation. "So I thought this was a really important issue, to try to make sure that the Justice Department was able to stay on the right course."

  • New details on pardon requests. Thursday's testimony shed light on requests for pardons from Republican members of Congress, CNN reports. In a deposition, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, said lawmakers including Reps. Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, and Scott Perry had requested pardons. In email, Brooks sought general pardons for "every congressman and senator who voted to reject the electoral college vote submissions of Arizona and Pennsylvania."
  • Bizarre requests. The requests made of the Justice Department as Trump's desperation to overturn the election result grew "ranged from bizarre to inappropriate," with Trump seeking to install his campaign attorney, Sidney Powell, as special counsel to probe election fraud, the Hill reports. One theory that was put forth, which former deputy acting attorney general Richard Donoghue described as "pure insanity," suggested Italian satellites had been hacked to switch votes from Trump to Biden. Former acting defense secretary Christopher Miller testified that he was also asked to look into the satellite claim. Donoghue said Trump also asked Rosen to "just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen."

  • A bridge between Trump legal team and Justice Department. Testimony Thursday suggested there was more of a link than previously known between Trump's legal team and supporters of Trump's election fraud claims inside the DOJ. Committee member Rep. Liz Cheney said emails showed attorney Kenneth Klukowski, who joined the department on Dec. 15, 2020, was simultaneously working with attorney John Eastman, the architect of Trump's legal efforts to overturn the election. "That’s particularly remarkable, given how much this effort within the Justice Department wasn’t sanctioned by superiors and how it would amount to government lawyers working with political aides to subvert democracy," writes Aaron Blake at the Washington Post.
(More Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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