A congressional committee investigating last year’s Jan. 6 riots at the US Capitol is hearing testimony Thursday about how former President Donald Trump pushed Justice Department officials to investigate allegations of 2020 election fraud that he hoped would reverse his loss to Democrat Joe . Biden.
House Select Committee Chairman Benny Thompson said the panel will look into “Trump’s attempt to bribe the nation’s top law enforcement agency,” much in the same way that state officials in Arizona and Georgia testified Tuesday that Trump unsuccessfully tried to force them to appoint fake electors to help him to stay in office for another four years or to cancel the vote showing that Biden defeated him.
Part of Thursday’s hearing is expected to focus on alleged efforts by Jeffrey Clark, a former assistant attorney general, to repeatedly push Justice Department officials to investigate allegations of electoral fraud and force some states to “annul” their election results showing Biden won.
Associates say Trump considered appointing Clark as attorney general to replace acting attorney general Jeff Rosen, who, like his predecessor, former Attorney General William Barr, said there was no evidence of fraud substantial enough to overturn Biden’s victory.
In a short video clip shown at the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Richard Donoghue, who served as Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General from December 2020 to January 2021, said he would resign immediately if Trump named Clark as Attorney General in the final weeks of his board. administration.
Thursday’s hearing is the fifth this month as the investigation team investigates Trump’s role in fueling the attack on the Capitol as lawmakers gathered to confirm Biden’s victory in the Electoral College presidential election.
About 2,000 Trump supporters, whom Trump had urged at a rally shortly before to “fight like hell,” broke into the Capitol past law enforcement officers, fought with police, vandalized the building, and ransacked congressional offices.
More than 800 protesters have been charged with a range of offences, with 300 of them already pleading guilty or convicted in trials and sentenced to prison terms ranging from a few weeks to more than four years.
Trump ridiculed the investigative team of seven anti-Trump Democrats and two Republicans, saying its presentation was biased against him. To this day, he erroneously claims that he was cheated out of another term in the White House.
Hearings of the commission of inquiry were supposed to end on Thursday. The committee is set to publish its findings at the end of the summer.
But Democratic Party spokesman Jamie Raskin, a member of the committee, told reporters: “We’re gathering new evidence every day at a tremendous rate, and so we’re constantly plugging in and plugging in new information that comes out.”
“Evidence is now coming in from different sources,” he said, “and I think people have seen that we are doing a serious investigation that is bipartisan, which is only focused on getting the facts about what happened, and now a lot of people are coming in with information.”
Some key officials in the Trump administration cooperated with the committee’s investigation. But others have resisted, repeatedly citing their constitutional right not to testify against themselves and refusing to answer questions about Trump’s and their own actions in the post-election period and January 6. Two former Trump advisers, Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, declined to answer. cooperate and were charged with contempt of Congress.
Republican Representative Liz Cheney, vice chair of the commission, urged Pat Cipollone, a former Trump White House adviser, to answer more questions than he already has.
At the center of Trump’s post-election efforts has been a daring scheme to uncount the votes in states where Trump lost, or name fake pro-Trump voters in states where Biden narrowly defeated him.
In the United States, presidents are elected in separate elections in each of the 50 states, not by popular vote. The number of electoral votes in each state depends on its population, with the largest states having the most influence. The rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6 tried to prevent lawmakers from confirming Biden’s eventual 306–232 victory in the Electoral College.
While the House committee cannot bring criminal charges, the Justice Department is closely monitoring the hearing to determine whether anyone, including Trump, should be charged with illegally trying to change the election results.
The prosecutor of Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, convened a grand jury to investigate Trump’s actions to cancel the vote in that state. Trump asked the state’s chief rep. Brad Raffensperger to “find” him 11,780 votes – one more than Biden defeated him – out of 5 million ballots.
The investigation team has already heard testimony that key Trump aides told him he lost the election and that there was a minimal amount of voting irregularity, not enough to overturn Biden’s Electoral College victory.
In addition, Trump was told that it would be illegal for then-Vice President Mike Pence to block a Biden victory unilaterally as he presided over the congressional Electoral College vote count, as Trump privately and publicly pleaded with Pence to do.