A roundup of what happened at Thursday's Jan. 6 hearing
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
In a bid to hold on to power, former President Trump tried to manipulate the top law enforcement agency in this country.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
That was the testimony of DOJ officials in the latest January 6 hearing. They say Trump repeatedly called or met with them to press them to back his false claims of a stolen election.
FADEL: Joining us now is NPR's senior political editor and correspondent, Domenico Montanaro, who followed these hearings closely. Hi, Domenico.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey there.
FADEL: So, Domenico, lay out what Justice Department officials said Trump specifically did to try to pressure them.
MONTANARO: Well, these top Justice Department officials testified that Trump was pressuring them nearly every day, bringing them seemingly never-ending conspiracy theories to investigate. And he wasn't satisfied when he was told they just were not true. You know, Trump threatened to replace several DOJ leaders. Former Attorney General Bill Barr left as Trump was trying to pressure him to appoint a special counsel for election fraud. Trump was so desperate that after officials told him they couldn't snap their fingers and change the outcome of the election, he had this piece of advice for them, according to Richard Donoghue, who was acting deputy attorney general at the time.
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RICHARD DONOGHUE: He responded very quickly and said, essentially, that's not what I'm asking you to do. What I'm just asking you to do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.
MONTANARO: You know, it's really something to hear. And about those Republican congressmen, by the way, we learned in the hearing that half a dozen of them asked for pardons. They didn't get them.
FADEL: And Trump had a lot of conspiracies he threw out there, didn't he?
MONTANARO: He did. And the people forced to respond to them spanned the government, really. Christopher Miller, the former acting defense secretary, testified that at the request of Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, he called a senior official in the Italian government in Rome to check on a pretty out-there conspiracy. Here's committee member Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, summing up the committee's findings.
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ADAM KINZINGER: The select committee confirmed that a call was actually placed by Secretary Miller to the attache in Italy to investigate the claim that Italian satellites were switching votes from Trump to Biden. This is one of the best examples of the lengths President Trump would go to stay in power.
MONTANARO: I mean, just wow. You know, Donoghue testified that Trump told him, "you guys may not be following the internet the way I do" - close quote. You know, everything came to a head in a dramatic Oval Office meeting that they recounted. Trump threatened to replace Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, the man who had replaced Barr, with a junior Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, who was more willing to do Trump's bidding. Trump stopped short but only after the threat of mass resignations.
FADEL: Wow. So we won't hear again from the committee until July because they have new evidence to review. So let's recap what we've seen. You've watched each of these five hearings. What have you learned, and what do you expect to come?
MONTANARO: I think my biggest takeaway is that really no one was off limits. No one was immune from Trump's pressure campaign, whether it was local and state election officials all the way up to the Justice Department and even his own vice president. You know, really a pretty clear and vivid picture emerges of a president who didn't care about the truth and whose sole focus was remaining in power no matter the cost, whether it was to people's personal lives or to American democracy itself, frankly. As for what's coming up, the committee has footage to go through from a British documentary filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after January 6. The committee may also ask to talk to Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. And it says it's running down lots of new evidence that they say they've been getting in tips since the hearing began.
FADEL: NPR's Domenico Montanaro, thank you so much.
MONTANARO: You're welcome.
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