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 what we’re likely to hear from the committee today. Panel aides have said that the hearing will lay out how the former president wanted the DOJ to publicly state there was election fraud.


Here’s what NPR is following:

  • Who is Jeffrey Clark? A former environmental lawyer in the Justice Department, Clark was sympathetic to the president’s false claims about rampant voter fraud in the 2020 election. Trump had reportedly mused about firing the then-acting attorney general and replacing him with Clark.
  • Authorities search Clark’s home: Federal enforcement officials searched Clark’s suburban Virginia home on Wednesday.
  • 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.

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 Trump, Clark said that R-Pa., Rep. Scott Perry 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 its efforts to overturn the election.

Donoghue 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.

Video showing an interview of former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Video showing an interview of former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

‘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 Thursday

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.

These details were posted Thursday before the hearings began:

The witnesses are former top DOJ officials

Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue are among Thursday's witnesses. 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 told the two men, according to their testimony.

Also to appear in Thursday's hearing is Steven Engel, who headed DOJ's 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 reportedly more willing to go along with Trump's fraudulent claims of a stolen election.

Several other DOJ lawyers, including Donoghue, also threatened to quit if Clark was appointed.

"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 a piece of video testimony played at Tuesday's hearing.

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.

How Trump pressured the DOJ

The committee plans to outline several ways in which Trump pressured the DOJ and tried to use it for his own personal agenda.

Committee aides said in a call with reporters that the hearing will lay out how Trump wanted the DOJ to publicly state there was election fraud. More testimony from Barr and other officials is expected.

The committee will also show how Trump asked the DOJ to file lawsuits with his campaign on behalf of his election fraud claims. He also pressured the DOJ to appoint a special counsel to look into his claims and he wanted it to issue letters to states to question the sanctity of their elections.

Thursday's hearing will also detail a Jan. 3 meeting in the Oval Office between Trump and senior DOJ officials as the former president tried to place Clark as the head of the department.

What we’ve heard in past hearings and what’s to come

In the last four hearings, the committee has laid out the case against Trump and how he was at the center of the election fraud conspiracy which ultimately led to the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The committee has presented evidence for how Trump ignored several in his circle who said his claims of election fraud were false, and then proceeded to pressure Vice President Mike Pence and state election officials to overturn the election in his favor.

Thursday's hearing is the fifth of several that were supposed to take place in June. But now committee members are saying the process could go into July.

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters that today's hearing will be the last for this month with more hearings to come after Congress' July 4th recess. The House will reconvene the week of July 11, and Thompson indicated that's the earliest hearings would resume.

Thompson said the new evidence the committee has includes hours of video footage handed over by a British documentarian who followed Trump, his family and aides, and conducted interviews with them, for weeks before and after the 2020 election.

Thompson also said there is "a lot of information to the tip line" that the committee has set up.

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