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Witnesses detail Trump’s bid to pressure Justice Department


The congressional panel investigating the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot heard testimony on Thursday that former President Donald Trump pushed Justice Department officials to investigate allegations of voter fraud, even though he had been assured that there were no widespread irregularities which could upset his re-election defeat.

The panel focused its questions on efforts by Jeffrey Clark, a former assistant attorney general who specializes in environmental law, to be named attorney general in the final month of Trump’s presidency so he can prosecute the allegations. that Trump had been cheated out of a second four-term of the year. Such allegations have proven to be baseless; State and federal judges have dismissed more than 60 lawsuits brought by Trump and his allies challenging the election results.

Clark has repeatedly pushed other Justice Department officials to investigate allegations of voter fraud and pressure some states to decertify their election results showing Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump.

FILE – Then-assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, September 14, 2020.

But as Clark lobbied Trump to be named head of the Justice Department, other senior agency officials told Trump that Clark was unqualified to lead the department, according to Adam. Kinzinger, one of two Republican members of Congress serving on the investigating committee.

Ultimately, after other Justice Department officials threatened to resign immediately if Trump named Clark as their boss, Trump scrapped the plan to promote Clark.

Clark’s house raided

Early Wednesday, FBI agents conducted a pre-dawn search of Clark’s home in suburban Virginia outside Washington. Russ Vought, president of the Center for Renewing America, where Clark now works, said in a statement that researchers forced Clark to stand outside “in the streets in his pajamas and took his electronics.” Anonymous sources said The New York Times that the research was related to the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to reverse Trump’s 2020 election defeat.

At the start of the hearing, House Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department were “a brazen attempt” to “help him legitimize his lies” according to which he had been cheated on in November 2020.

Thursday’s hearing was the fifth this month as the inquiry committee explores Trump’s role in fomenting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, where lawmakers had gathered to certify victory. Biden’s presidential election in the Electoral College.

About 2,000 Trump supporters, urged by Trump at a rally shortly before to “fight like hell,” stormed the Capitol in front of law enforcement officials, brawling with police, vandalizing the building and ransacking the offices of Congress.

More than 800 of the protesters have been charged with various offences, 300 of whom have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial and jailed for terms ranging from a few weeks to more than four years.

Trump derided the investigating committee, made up of seven Democrats and two anti-Trump Republicans, saying its presentation was biased against him. He continues to claim that he was cheated out of another term in the White House.

Witnesses detail Trump’s bid to pressure Justice Department

FILE – Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 26, 2019.

More evidence, more hearings

The Inquiry Committee hearings were originally scheduled to end with Thursday’s session, but with the committee gathering more and more evidence, it is now planning at least two more public hearings in July before releasing its findings at the end of the summer.

One of July’s hearings is set to explore how right-wing groups embraced Trump’s misguided voter fraud allegations to help plan the Capitol rampage, while the other hearing will address what Trump has been doing in the White House for more three hours while rioters took over much of the Capitol.

Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, a member of the committee, told reporters earlier this week: “We are gathering new evidence daily at tremendous speed, and so we are constantly incorporating and including new information that comes out.

“There’s evidence from a variety of sources now,” he said, “and I think people have seen that we’re doing a serious investigation that’s bipartisan in nature, that’s just focused on getting the facts about what happened, and many people are now coming forward with information.

Some key Trump administration officials cooperated with the committee’s investigation. But others balked, repeatedly invoking their constitutional right against self-incrimination and refusing to answer questions about Trump’s actions and their own in the post-election period and on Jan. 6. Two former Trump advisers, Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, refused to cooperate. and were charged with contempt of Congress.

Electoral college tally

At the center of Trump’s post-election efforts was a campaign to undo the vote count in states where he lost or to name fake voters supporting Trump in states where Biden narrowly won.

In the United States, presidents are actually chosen in separate elections in each of the 50 states, not through the national popular vote. The number of electoral votes each state has depends on its population, with the largest states having the most influence. Rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 tried to block lawmakers from certifying Biden’s eventual 306-232 victory in the Electoral College.

Witnesses detail Trump’s bid to pressure Justice Department

From left, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Soumya Dayananda, counsel for the committee’s investigative staff, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo ., listen to the proceedings of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, at the Capitol in Washington, June 23, 2022.

Although the House committee cannot pursue criminal charges, the Justice Department is closely monitoring the hearings to determine whether anyone, including Trump, should be charged with illegally attempting to reverse the result. elections.

A prosecutor in Atlanta, the state capital of Georgia, has called a grand jury investigation into Trump’s actions to nullify the vote in that state. Trump asked the state’s top election official, Brad Raffensperger, to find him 11,780 votes — one more than Biden beat him — out of 5 million ballots.

Investigating committee heard testimony that key Trump aides told it he lost the election and there were a minimal number of voting irregularities, not enough to undo Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.

Additionally, Trump was told that it would be illegal for then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally block Biden’s victory while presiding over the Congressional Electoral College vote count, as Trump has said. implored Pence privately and publicly to do so.

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