Jan. 6 hearing updates: Trump tried to pressure the DOJ. Lawmakers who helped him sought pardons
The Justice Department is not supposed to do the personal political bidding of the president, but that's exactly what Donald Trump asked it to do, according to testimony presented today. Several former Department of Justice officials described pushing back hard on Trump's baseless election fraud claims.
And multiple GOP congressmen who voted to reject the electoral college submissions asked the White House for pardons, before and after Jan. 6.
Here's what else we're following:
- A tense and heated meeting at the White House: Witnesses revealed dramatic details about a Jan. 3, 2021, meeting in which top Justice Department officials banded together to prevent Jeffrey Clark, an environmental lawyer at the DOJ, from being named the replacement to Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
- Trump leaned hard on DOJ officials on phony voting fraud claims: At one point, Trump told acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, “Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen," according to Donoghue.
- The panel hears from a filmmaker: British documentarian Alex Holder said he testified behind closed doors with the Jan. 6 committee on Thursday morning. Holder filmed the former president, his family and aides for weeks around the 2020 election and interviewed them even beyond the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Former top DOJ officials detail threatening to resign en masse in meeting with Trump
Witnesses in today's hearing revealed details of a dramatic Oval Office meeting on Jan. 3, 2021, in which top Justice Department officials banded together to prevent Jeffrey Clark, an environmental lawyer at the DOJ, from replacing acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
Trump was keen to install Clark, an ally, in order to wield the powers of the DOJ to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The meeting took place a day after Clark had told Rosen and acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue that Trump had asked him to consider replacing Rosen. Clark doubled down on claims that there had been fraud in the election and acknowledged he had had continued discussions with Trump, despite assuring the pair a week prior that he wouldn't engage in conversations with the president.
On Jan. 3, Clark told Rosen the "timeline had been moved up" and that Trump had offered him the top job and he was accepting it. Following that meeting, Rosen called then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to set up a meeting that night with the president. Included in the meeting were White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Steven Engel, assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.
Ahead of the meeting with Trump, Donoghue assembled a conference call with assistant attorneys general and asked what they would do if Clark was installed as head of the department. He testified that those in the meeting "said they would resign en masse."
Hours later, the tense meeting began.
Rosen said Trump "turned to me and said — 'Well, one thing we know is you, Rosen, you aren't going to do anything. You don't even agree with the claims of election fraud, and this other guy at least might do something,'" referring to Clark.
"I said, 'Well, Mr. President, you're right that I'm not going to allow the Justice Department to do anything to try to overturn the election. That's true," Rosen recalled. "'But the reason for that is because that's what's consistent with the facts and the law, and that's what's required under the Constitution.'"
Donoghue eventually joined the meeting and recalled Trump asking, "What do I have to lose?" in replacing Rosen with Clark.
"It was actually a good opening because I said, 'Mr. President, you have a great deal to lose,'" he testified. "I began to explain to him what he had to lose and what the country had to lose and what the department had to lose, and this was not in anyone's best interest. That conversation went on for some time. Everyone essentially chimed in with their own thoughts, all of which were consistent about how damaging this would be to the country."
The conversation turned to whether Clark was qualified to run the Justice Department.
"It was a heated conversation. I thought it was useful to point out to the president that Jeff Clark simply didn't have the skills, the ability and the experience to run the department," Donoghue testified.
"I said, 'Mr. President, you're talking about putting a man in that seat who has never tried a criminal case, who's never conducted a criminal investigation. He's telling you that he's going to take charge of the department — 115,000 employees, including the entire FBI — and turn the place on a dime and conduct nationwide criminal investigations that will produce results in a matter of days. It's impossible. It's absurd. It's not going to happen and it's going to fail.'"
Donoghue said Trump asked him what he would do if he replaced Rosen with Clark.
"I said, 'Mr. President, I would resign immediately. I’m not working one minute for this guy,'" he replied.
Engel echoed that: "'I've been with you through four attorneys general, including two acting attorneys general, but I couldn't be part of this," he said he told Trump.
Donoghue told Trump he would lose his "entire department" if he moved ahead.
"Within 24-48-72 hours, you could have hundreds and hundreds of resignations of the leadership of your entire Justice Department because of your actions. What's that going to say about you?" Donoghue remembers asking.
According to Donoghue, Cipollone was supportive of the DOJ and said Clark's plan to send a letter to states about election fraud was a "murder-suicide" pact.
Donoghue said Clark would be "left leading a graveyard," a statement he said had an impact on Trump, who ultimately decided not to fire Rosen.
Donoghue says baseless Italian satellite vote-switching theory was pushed on Defense officials
Former Justice Department officials recall receiving a 20-minute video on a far-right election conspiracy theory that argued Italy had tampered with the election, which former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue called "patently absurd."
"I emailed the acting attorney general and said, 'Pure insanity.' That was my impression of the video, which was patently absurd," he said.
Donoghue emphasized that the baseless allegations about the vote-changing scheme were debunked, but then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows continued to press this theory, committee member Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who led Thursday's hearing, said.
Former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller testified that Meadows asked him "'Can you call the Defense attaché in Rome and find out what the heck is going on because I'm getting all these weird, crazy reports and probably the guy on the ground knows more than anything.'"
Kinzinger said the panel discovered that Miller did direct the attaché to investigate the claim.
Multiple Republican lawmakers asked the White House for pardons before and after Jan. 6
Various Republican members of Congress requested pardons from then-President Donald Trump in the final days of the administration, testimony revealed today.
Five days after the insurrection, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., sent an email with the subject line “Pardons” to the White House requesting a pardon for Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., himself and “every congressman or senator who voted to reject the electoral college vote submissions of Arizona and Pennsylvania.”
In a taped deposition shown during the hearing, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, said Brooks and Gaetz advocated for blanket pardons for House members who were involved in a Dec. 21 White House meeting.
Specifically, Gaetz had been asking for a pardon since “early December,” Hutchinson said, noting Reps. Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert and Scott Perry also sought pardons from the White House. John McEntee, a former White House aide, also said Gaetz had told him he asked Meadows for a pardon.
Hutchinson testified she had heard that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia had requested a pardon from the White House counsel’s office, but did not communicate with Greene about that.
No pardons were issued.
“The only reason you ask for a pardon is if you think you’ve committed a crime,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the Democratic-led select committee, said during today's hearing.
Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer, told the committee in a videotaped interview that Gaetz sought a pardon “from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things.”
On Twitter, Gaetz did not deny the claims, but wrote: "The January 6 Committee is an unconstitutional political sideshow. It is rapidly losing the interest of the American people and now resorts to siccing federal law enforcement on political opponents."
Herschmann said the “general tone” of the requests was: “We may get prosecuted because we were defensive of the president’s position on these things.”
Trump considered naming Sidney Powell as special counsel on election fraud
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., says an investigation conducted by the committee found that Donald Trump promised his former campaign lawyer, Sidney Powell, an appointment to the job of special counsel in a meeting in December 2020.
In her testimony, Powell said that Trump asked her to "be special counsel to address the election issues" and to "collect evidence."
Powell said that Trump was upset at the "lack of law enforcement by any of the government agencies that are supposed to act to protect the rule of law in our republic."
"Let’s think here," Kinzinger told the committee. "What would a special counsel do? With only days to go until the election certification, it sure wasn’t to investigate anything. An investigation led by a special counsel would just create an illusion of legitimacy and provide fake cover for those who want to object, including those who stormed the Capitol on January 6," he asked.
Powell continued to push election fraud conspiracies after Jan. 6. The Dallas-based lawyer is currently facing sanctions by the Texas state bar's Committee for Lawyer Discipline, which says she committed professional misconduct in filing lawsuits to try to overturn the results of the election.
A federal judge ordered Powell and five other attorneys to take continuing legal education courses over a frivolous lawsuit over the election in Michigan.
Trump asked the Justice Department to seize voting machines, witnesses say
According to testimony by former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, then-President Donald Trump asked top Justice Department officials to seize voting machines from states in late December 2020 in an effort to prove baseless claims that the election was rigged.
Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen testified Thursday that the Justice Department didn't have the legal authority to carry out Trump's request.
"We had seen nothing improper with regard to the voting machines, and I told him that the real experts at that had been at [the Department of Homeland Security], and they had briefed us that they had looked at it and that there was nothing wrong with the voting machines," Rosen said. "So that was not something that was appropriate to do."
Donoghue testified that Trump was "very agitated" when he was told that the DOJ wouldn't seize the machines, and called high-ranking DHS official Ken Cuccinelli.
"The president essentially said, 'Ken, I'm sitting here with the acting attorney general, he just told me it's your job to seize machines and you're not doing your job,' " Donoghue recalled.
Rosen confirmed to Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans who sits on the Democratic-led panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol, that he never told Trump that the Department of Homeland Security could seize voting machines.
Donoghue added that toward the end of his meeting with the president, Trump said, "People tell me I should just get rid of both of you. I should just remove you and make a change in the leadership — put Jeff Clark and maybe something will finally get done."
Jeffrey Clark was a environmental lawyer at the Department of Justice at the time and an ally of Trump's in aggressively probing baseless election fraud claims.
Donoghue said he replied by telling Trump he could make a change in leadership, but that the DOJ "functions on facts, evidence and law, and those are not going to change."
"You can have whatever leadership you want, but the department's position is not going to change," he said.
Actor Sean Penn attends Thursday's hearing in-person
Hollywood actor Sean Penn made an appearance at the committee hearing Thursday as a guest of former police officer D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was injured during the insurrection.
Penn was seen sitting between Fanone and D.C. Police Officer Daniel Hodges.
It is unclear why Penn is in attendance at today's hearing. However, he told reporters that he's "just here to observe."
Penn most recently traveled to Ukraine to film a documentary about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The panel discussed Rep. Scott Perry. Here's how he is involved
Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told the committee that when he questioned DOJ lawyer Jeffrey Clark about meeting with then-President Donald Trump, Clark said that Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., had invited him.
Rosen, along with Steven Engel, told the committee the Justice Department's longstanding policy states that only the attorney general or the deputy attorney general — or their authorized representative — meets with the president on criminal matters in order to avoid real or perceived political interference.
Text messages from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows shared by the committee also showed that Perry urged Meadows to get the department more aggressively involved in the White House's efforts to overturn the election.
Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general, told the committee that Trump told Perry to call him on Dec. 27 and that Perry discussed the distrust of the FBI and allegations about the vote in Pennsylvania — including the unverified claim that more votes were counted by the secretary of state than had been cast.
DOJ officials pushed back on Trump's baseless election fraud claims
About a week before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, there was an “escalation” of then-President Donald Trump's earlier demands about election fraud allegations, former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue testified today, including an “arsenal of allegations that he [Trump] wanted to rely on.”
Donoghue said he told Trump “based on actual investigations, actual witness interviews, actual reviews of documents that these allegations simply had no merit.”
In a 90-minute conversation with Trump on Dec. 27, 2021, Donoghue went one by one through claims of fraud to debunk them, he told the Democratic-led panel today.
Among those theories was a report about Dominion voting machines having a 68% error rate in a Michigan county — which turned out to be false — and that the report was transmitted to U.S. attorneys in Michigan on Dec. 14 for their awareness. The next day, Trump pressed the DOJ that the report must be true and proved that he had won the election. He also said DOJ should use the report to tell the public the election was tainted.
“I did the quick calculation and came up with .0063% error rate, which is well within tolerance,” Donoghue said in his testimony today. He assured the president that the report citing the significantly higher error rate was not true.
Other theories included debunking the belief that a trailer carried ballots from New York to Pennsylvania.
Trump tried to push Donoghue to proclaim the election as illegal and corrupt. Trump told Donoghue: “Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen," according to Donoghue's contemporaneous notes.
Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also outlined a number of steps Trump asked him to take as he sought to overturn the 2020 election, including meeting with Rudy Giuliani, a purveyor of false claims; having DOJ file a lawsuit at the Supreme Court; hold a press conference; and send letters to officials in Georgia and other states, urging them to hold special sessions about their elections.
“The Justice Department declined all of those requests ... because we did not think that they were appropriate based on the facts and the law as we knew them,” Rosen said.
From the time he became acting AG on Dec. 23 until an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 3, Rosen said Trump called him or met with him to push election fraud claims “virtually every day” with one or two exceptions, like Christmas Day.
'We'll call you when there's an oil spill': Clark's colleagues thought he wasn't qualified
A major part of today's hearing is the description and timeline of efforts of former President Trump to install Jeffrey Clark, an environmental lawyer at the Department of Justice who was sympathetic to Trump's false claims of election fraud, in place of acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
Clark's colleagues testified that they considered Clark to be unqualified and that they relayed that message to Trump himself.
Richard Donoghue, the former Deputy Attorney General, testified that he told Trump that Clark had no experience with election or criminal law nor the experience of running an agency the size of the Department of Justice.
Donoghue recalled that Clark responded that he had handled difficult civil matters and environmental law.
Donoghue told the committee he reacted by saying "'You're an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office and we'll call you when there's an oil spill?'"
The committee also played a clip of video testimony of Eric Herschmann, a former White House lawyer who had this to say about Clark:
"'Best I can tell is the only thing you know about environmental and election challenges is they both start with "e".'"
Panel details an Oval Office meeting where Trump proposed installing Jeffrey Clark to lead DOJ
In an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 3, 2021, President Trump suggested replacing acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Dept. of Justice lawyer Jeff Clark. Clark was helping Trump try to overturn the 2020 election, according to R-Ill. Rep. Adam Kinzinger.
Kinzinger, who is one of two Republicans on the committee, argued that Clark was not qualified to lead the department.
The Oval Office meeting included Trump, Clark, Jeffrey Rosen and other former top DOJ leaders Richard Donoghue and Steven Engel.
Donoghue, who served as the former acting deputy attorney general, told the committee the meeting lasted nearly two and a half hours, saying “it was entirely focused on whether there should be a DOJ leadership change.”
Rosen told the committee Trump was unhappy because he didn’t support the president’s unfounded claims, and wanted Clark to run DOJ because he did.
“Why shouldn’t I do that?” Rosen recalled Trump saying.
White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said the proposal was “asinine."
When Clark defined what he intended to do, Herschmann said he replied, “You f****** a******, congratulations, you just admitted your first step or act you take as acting attorney general would be committing a felony... You’re clearly the right candidate for this job.”
Clark letter was similar to language Giuliani and Eastman used about widespread fraud
Rep. Liz Cheney previewed a key element of today's hearing — a draft letter that was written by Jeffrey Clark, a former environmental lawyer at the Department of Justice who was sympathetic to former President Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was rampant with voter fraud.
Cheney said the letter claimed that the DOJ had identified "significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states, including the state of Georgia" and recommended the Georgia General Assembly convene in special session and "consider approving a new slate of electors."
Cheney said Clark, along with another DOJ lawyer, Ken Klukowski, intended for the letter to be sent to the leadership of the Georgia legislature and that there were similar letters intended to be delivered to other states.
"Neither Mr. Clark nor Mr. Klukowski had any evidence of widespread election fraud, but they were quite aware of what Mr. Trump wanted the department to do," Cheney said.
The Wyoming Republican added that Clark met privately with Trump and agreed to "assist the president without telling the senior leadership of the department who oversaw him."
Trump had floated an idea to DOJ officials to fire the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey Rosen, who is testifying today, and replace him with Clark.
Cheney underscored that the former president knew there was no widespread voter fraud.
"Donald Trump knew this was a lie," she said. "The Department of Justice had already informed the president of the United States repeatedly that its investigations had found no fraud sufficient to overturn the results of the 2020 election."
Cheney noted the text of the letter from Clark closely matches the language used by Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, both of whom were working with Trump to overturn the results of the election.
She added that had this letter been released "on official Department of Justice letterhead, it would have falsely informed all Americans, including those who might be inclined to come to Washington on January 6, that President Trump's election fraud allegations were likely very real."
Filmmaker Alex Holder testified behind closed doors to Jan. 6 committee today
British filmmaker Alex Holder said he testified behind closed doors with the House Jan. 6 committee on Thursday morning.
In a statement, Holder reiterated that he has turned over film materials requested by the committee.
Holder filmed former President Donald Trump, his family and aides for weeks around the 2020 election and interviewed them even beyond the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The documentary is being distributed by Discovery, parent company of CNN, and they have been releasing some initial clips on CNN today.
Who is Jeffrey Clark?
Jeffrey Clark, a former environmental lawyer in the Justice Department, is expected to feature heavily during today’s hearing, which will focus on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure the DOJ to carry out his bidding in the weeks ahead of the Jan. 6 attack.
Trump had reportedly mused about firing the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey Rosen, and replacing him with Clark, who was sympathetic to the president's false claims about rampant voter fraud in the 2020 election. The result was an Oval Office showdown on Jan. 3, 2021, in which DOJ officials threatened to resign in protest if Trump were to oust Rosen and replace him with Clark.
"The president said, 'Suppose I do this. Suppose I replace him [Jeff Rosen] with him [Jeff Clark]. What do you do?' " recalled former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue in a piece of video testimony that was played during Tuesday’s hearing. "And I said. 'Sir, I would resign immediately.' "
“'There is no way I'm serving one minute under this guy, Jeff Clark,' " he added.
The hearing is expected to detail the role that Clark played in advancing Trump's false claims of fraud.
Clark appeared before the House committee in February but pled the Fifth dozens of times.
Federal authorities searched Clark’s Virginia home on Wednesday.
Authorities searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, who supported Trump's election fraud claims
Federal authorities searched the suburban Virginia home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the activity.
The U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C., confirmed "there was law enforcement activity" in an area near the address where Clark resides, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney. "We have no comment regarding the nature of that activity or any particular individual."
Clark spokesman Russ Vought said in a statement that "yesterday more than a dozen DOJ law enforcement officials searched Jeff Clark's house in a pre-dawn raid, put him in the streets in his pajamas, and took his electronic devices. All because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud."
Vought, who also served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget under former President Donald Trump, characterized the move as "the weaponization of government."
Clark is likely to feature heavily in the House select committee's hearing today focusing on Trump's efforts to push the Justice Department to do his bidding in the weeks before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump had floated the idea of firing the Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and replacing him with Clark, who was seen as more sympathetic to Trump's claims about election fraud and a plan focused on fake slates of electors in several states.
Rosen, former Attorney General Bill Barr and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue each told Trump repeatedly they saw no evidence of widespread voter fraud in 2020.
Who were Trump's attorneys general during the election and what did they do?
Thursday's hearing will focus on then-President Donald Trump's pressure on the Department of Justice and DOJ officials to overturn the election.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr left his position in December 2020, just weeks before the insurrection at the Capitol. Before he left, Barr said he had multiple conversations with Trump in which he told the former president that his claims of election fraud were baseless.
"I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was b*******," Barr said in a videotape of his deposition played at the panel's first hearing. "I didn't want to be a part of it, and that's one of the reasons that went into me deciding to leave when I did."
In the video, Barr also said he "repeatedly told the president in no uncertain terms that I did not see evidence of fraud and, you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election. And frankly a year and a half later, I haven't seen anything to change my mind on that."
After Barr left, Jeffrey Rosen stepped in as acting attorney general. Rosen will appear as a witness on Thursday. He said in previous interviews with the committee that he also told Trump his claims of voter fraud were incorrect.
"Rather than try to address a counterfactual or a hypothetical, let me just say, there were instances where the president would say, 'People are telling me this' or 'I heard this' or 'I saw on television,' you know, this — this impropriety in Atlanta or Pennsylvania or something. And we were in a position to say our people already looked at that. And we know that you're getting bad information," Rosen said in a video clip that played at the second hearing.
Both Barr and Rosen were appointed by Trump but refused to do his bidding on his election fraud claims.
While the Department of Justice exists under the executive branch with authority from the president, its officials do not serve the president directly as his lawyers.
What we've heard from Richard Donoghue so far
One of the witnesses in Thursday's hearing will be Richard Donoghue, the former acting deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice.
Donoghue said in his deposition with the committee that he pushed back repeatedly against then-President Donald Trump's fraudulent allegations that the election was stolen.
In the committee's first hearing earlier this month, members played a video of Donoghue revealing one of his conversations with Trump after the 2020 election.
"Sir, we've done dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews. The major allegations are not supported by the evidence developed," Donoghue said he told Trump. "We've looked in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada. We're doing our job. Much of the info you're getting is false."
Donoghue also said that even when the former president accepted some explanations as to why there was no election fraud, he would "move onto another allegation."
Donoghue recalled that Trump said dead people were voting in the election and that "Indian people are getting paid to vote," the former DOJ official recalled, adding that he repeatedly rejected those claims.
"I told him flat out that much of the information he was getting was false or not supported by the evidence," Donoghue said.
In the committee's fourth hearing, which took place Tuesday, a different video from Donoghue's deposition played, this one describing a phone call with Trump where there was a fixation on what Trump thought was a suitcase of fraudulent ballots in Georgia.
"They kept fixating on this suitcase that supposedly had fraudulent ballots in it. The suitcase was rolled out from under the table. And I said 'No, sir. There is no suitcase. You can watch that video over and over. There is no suitcase,' " Donoghue said an interview played Tuesday.
Thursday's hearing will focus on Trump's pressure on the Department of Justice to overturn the election. One of the former president's thoughts was to appoint Jeffrey Clark as the acting attorney general. Clark was reportedly more sympathetic to Trump's claims of election fraud, and Trump had wanted him to send a letter to Georgia and other states that the DOJ had identified concerns that impact the outcome of the election. Those concerns were baseless.
In the first hearing, Rep. Liz Cheney said Donoghue described Clark's letter, which was never sent, as "a grave step for the department to take and could have tremendous constitutional, political, and social ramifications for this country."
Several top DOJ lawyers, including Donoghue, threatened to resign if Clark was appointed. Previewing Thursday's hearing earlier this week, the committee played another piece of tape from Donoghue where he described the back and forth.
"The president said, 'Suppose I do this. Suppose I replace him [Jeff Rosen] with him [Jeff Clark]. What do you do?' And I said, 'Sir, I would resign immediately. There is no way I'm serving one minute under this guy, Jeff Clark,' " Donoghue said in the video.
Here's what to expect at Thursday's hearing
The fifth hearing from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol will focus on former President Donald Trump's pressure on the Department of Justice to help him overturn the 2020 election.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the committee, will lead Thursday's hearing, set for 3 p.m. We'll hear from former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue. Both refused to give in to Trump's efforts to get the DOJ to advance his fraudulent claims of voter fraud and overturn the election. When former Attorney General Bill Barr announced his resignation in December 2020, Trump badgered Rosen and Donoghue in at least nine calls and meetings, according to a report by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen," Trump had told the two men, according to their testimony.
Also to appear at Thursday's hearing is Steven Engel, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel. Engel was one of the officials who told the former president he would have no choice but to quit if Trump replaced the acting attorney general with environmental lawyer Jeffrey Bossert Clark. Clark was perceived by Trump as more willing to go along with his fraudulent claims of a stolen election.
Several other DOJ lawyers, including Donoghue, also threatened to quit if Clark was appointed.
Clark appeared before the House committee in February for a deposition, but pled the Fifth dozens of times.
It's unusual for DOJ lawyers at this level to testify in public about interactions with the White House, but President Biden said that executive privilege should not apply to conversations involving Trump's efforts to overthrow the 2020 election.