WORLD Jan 6 committee names 4 GOP congressmen who sought presidential pardons

WORLD

Jan 6 committee names 4 GOP congressmen who sought presidential pardons

China Daily

11:11, June 24, 2022


Former Assistant US Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel, former Acting US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting US Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue are photographed after the conclusion of the fifth of eight planned public hearings of the US House Select Committee to investigate the Jan 6 Attack on the US Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, US June 23, 2022. (Photo: Agencies)

The House select committee investigating the Jan 6 insurrection on Thursday focused on how former president Donald Trump and his allies attempted to use the Justice Department to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

Three former senior Justice Department officials who rebuffed Trump at the time testified live: Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general; Richard Donoghue, the acting deputy attorney general; and Steven Engel, who led the department's Office of Legal Counsel.

During Thursday's hearing, the committee named four additional Republican congressmen who sought a pardon from Trump. The requests stemmed from their involvement in Trump's efforts to try to subvert the 2020 presidential election that Joe Biden won. The committee previously revealed that Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry sought a pardon, which he has denied.

Witnesses close to the Trump White House said those seeking a pardon were Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Louie Gohmert of Texas. There was no immediate comment from them.

"The pardon he was requesting was as broad as you can describe, for any and all things," former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said of Gaetz in video testimony that the committee played Thursday.

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, confirmed to the committee that Gaetz and the other GOP members of Congress sought a pardon.

Last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee released a lengthy report detailing how Trump had tried to use the Justice Department to advance his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The Senate investigation included interviews with the DOJ witnesses who testified publicly on Thursday.

Aides to the select committee said that the panel's investigation is answering a different set of questions than the Senate probe, noting that in each of the committee's previous hearings there have been some parts of the story that have been known and some unknown.

Rosen, Donoghue and Engel were in an Oval Office meeting on Jan 3, 2021, in which Trump considered ousting Rosen and replacing him with Jeffrey Clark, an environmental official at the department. Clark also was in the meeting.

In a video deposition clip that played Thursday during the hearing, Donoghue recalled what he told Trump during the meeting: "I made the point that Jeff Clark is not even competent to serve as the attorney general. He's never been a criminal attorney. He's never conducted a criminal investigation in his life. He's never been in front of a grand jury, much less a trial jury."

Donoghue said he told Clark, "You're an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we'll call you when there's an oil spill."

Rosen, Donoghue and Engel warned Trump at the meeting that they would resign and that many of the department's lawyers also would if he replaced Rosen with Clark. Trump ultimately backed away from installing Clark as the head of the Justice Department.

In late 2020, Trump asked Rosen to seize voting machines from state governments, Donoghue testified Thursday, a request that Rosen testified the Justice Department had no legal authority to do.

Rosen said the Justice Department "had seen nothing improper with regard to the voting machines. And so that was not something that was appropriate to do," he testified. "I don't think there was legal authority either," he added.

Donoghue said that Trump was "very agitated" when he was told the Justice Department wouldn't take action on the voting machines.

On Wednesday, a dozen federal law enforcement officials investigators carried out a predawn search of Clark's home. It wasn't clear what the investigators were searching for.

An associate of Clark's confirmed the search and said the federal investigators seized Clark's electronic devices and put him out on the street in his pajamas. The Center for Renewing America, where Clark works, called it a "weaponization of government".

Clark had met with the House select committee in February, but pleaded the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times during his nearly two hour-long deposition.

The search occurred on the day the Justice Department served subpoenas to people involved in the Trump campaign's push to organize a slate of fake electors to try to certify a Trump and not Joe Biden election victory.

Thursday's hearing was the fifth the committee has held this month. It is also likely the last hearing of the month, with the final hearings pushed back until July.

Trump hasn't testified before the committee and isn't expected to do so. He has accused members of selectively editing testimony to make him look bad. In a speech in Nashville, Tennessee, last week, Trump said: "This is a one-sided witch hunt.''

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