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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

WATCH: Former Senior Justice Department Official Richard Donoghue Speaks About Geoffrey Clark’s Pursuit of False Claims of Electoral Fraud

Donald Trump pursued the Justice Department to investigate its false claims of electoral fraud, contacting the agency chief “virtually daily” and trying in vain to enlist the support of senior law enforcement officials in a desperate bid to stay in power, according to testimony presented Thursday to a House panel. . investigation into the riots at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Check out Donoghue’s comments in the player above.

Testimony focused on a tense standoff in the Oval Office on January 3, 2021, in which Trump considered replacing Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with a lower-level official, Jeffrey Clark, who wanted to support Trump’s bogus claims of electoral fraud. Donoghue and another senior Justice Department official, Stephen Engel, warned Trump that there would be mass resignations in the department if Trump went through with his plan. Only then did Trump relent.

Clark’s name was mentioned early in the hearing when Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, derided him as a lawyer whose only qualification was his loyalty to Trump. Clark’s lawyer did not respond to an email before the hearing.

WATCH: Every public committee hearing on January 6 so far

Three Trump-era Justice Department officials revealed that Trump was obsessed with allegations of electoral fraud and insisted they continue them despite being told repeatedly that none of the allegations were baseless.

“He had a whole arsenal of allegations,” said Richard Donoghue, one of the senior justice officials. “I went through them piece by piece to say, no, that’s not true.”

The hearings drew attention to a memorable period of turbulence in the department as Trump, in his last days in office, sought to bend to his will a law enforcement agency that had long cherished its independence from the White House. The testimonies were intended to show that Trump not only relied on outside advisers to push his false claims of electoral fraud, but also attempted to use the powers of the federal executive branch.

Just an hour before the hearing began, it emerged that federal agents had searched Clark’s home in Virginia this week, according to a person familiar with the matter, who was not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. A spokesman for the US Attorney confirmed the presence of law enforcement activity in Virginia, where Clark lives, but did not say what it was about.

The commission’s hearing was the fifth this month by a House committee investigating preparations for an uprising at the Capitol when Trump supporters stormed the building as lawmakers certified the results of an election won by Democrat Joe Biden. Witnesses included police officers attacked at the Capitol, as well as lawyers, a television executive and local election officials who resisted demands to change the results in favor of Trump.

Last week, the committee released a videotaped testimony of former Attorney General William Barr, who criticized Trump’s allegations of fraud and resigned after failing to convince the president.

Thursday’s hearing focused on what happened next as Rosen, Barr’s first deputy, took over the department and immediately found himself under siege from Trump’s demands for action.

In one of the calls, according to handwritten notes taken by Donoghue and released by lawmakers last year, Trump asked Rosen to “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the congressmen.”

Around the same time, Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania introduced Trump to Clark, who joined the department in 2018 as its chief environmental lawyer and was later appointed head of its civilian division. The committee called Clarke into court to testify, but he was not among the witnesses on Thursday.

Clark, according to statements by other Justice Department officials, met with Trump despite being ordered not to by his superiors at the Department, and presented himself as eager to help the president in his efforts to challenge the election results. A report released last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee that portrayed Clark as a tireless supporter of Trump included a draft letter urging Georgian officials to call a special legislative session to review the election results.

Clarke wanted the letter to be sent, but his superiors at the Justice Department refused.

Things came to a head on Sunday, January 3, 2021, when Clark told 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, replied that “I could not imagine any universe in which this could ever happen”, and that he would not allow a subordinate to be fired.

Rosen then contacted the White House to request a meeting. That night, Rosen, Donoghue, and Engel, along with Clark, got together with Trump and top White House lawyers for an hour-long meeting in the Oval Office debating whether the president should go ahead with his plans for a sweeping leadership change in the department.

World Nation News Desk
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