WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continued their public hearings on Thursday, focusing on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to assist in overturning the 2020 election.
Thursday saw testimony from then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel, and then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue. All three men gave detailed accounts of their meeting inside the Oval Office and Trump’s words on the day leading up to January 6.
Here are four takeaways from the fifth day of the January 6 hearings:
Everyone wants a pardon
By far, the biggest revelation came towards the end of the day when it was revealed which members of Congress asked for a pardon.
The committee zeroed in on texts messages between Rep. Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania Republican, and Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The messages showed Perry’s effort to connect the White House with Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.
“He wanted Mr. Clark – Mr. Jeff Clark to take over the Department of Justice,” Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Meadows aide, said about Perry.
Perry also named several Republican members of Congress, saying they seeked pardons following the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
— Stephen Michael (@stephenreports) June 23, 2022
“President Trump asked me to send you this letter. This letter is also pursuant to a request from Matt Gaetz,” said Brooks in an email sent to the White House in January 2021. “As such, I recommend that president give general (all purpose) pardons to the following groups of people.”
Perry along with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) all asked the White House about pardons.
Hutchinson also said she had heard that Greene reached out to the White House to ask for a pardon.
Trump White House pushed a wild conspiracy theory
Just when you thought you heard it all, things got even wilder on Thursday. Trump pushed his White House to look into and investigate conspiracy theories from the darkest corners of the internet, specifically that Italian satellites had changed votes from Trump to Joe Biden.
Then-Secretary of Defense Chris Miller called the Italian government at Meadows’ request to investigate the theory that Italians switched votes in the American election. If it sounds insane, you aren’t the only one thinking that.
Also detailed was how Trump himself had urged his Justice Department and senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security to seize voting machines.
“Why don’t you guys just seize machines?” Trump said during a White House meeting in late December 2020, Donoghue said in testimony under oath.
The pressure on the DOJ from Trump was extreme
Trump was furious at the lack of movement from the Justice Department investigating or validating his baseless claims of election fraud. Between December 23, 2020 and January 3 2021, Trump called or met Rosen almost every day as he became even more desperate to stay in power.
The former President wanted Rosen to take every single avenue possible, including appointing a special counsel to investigate suspected election fraud.
“What I’m just asking you to do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” Donoghue said of the conversation with Trump in testimony under oath.
“The common element of all of this was the president expressing his dissatisfaction with the Justice Department having not done enough to investigate election fraud,” Rosen said.
A Trump-supporting Justice Department environmental lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, was a key part of Trump’s efforts to stay in power.
Clark’s home is raided prior to the hearing
Speaking of Clark, his home was raided prior to Thursday’s hearing. It is not known what federal investigators were looking for or what triggered the search of his home. It marks a big moment as Clark is one of the most prominent figures in Trump’s post-elections schemes.
Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said that he called Clark a “f—ing a–hole” and said his plans would’ve been illegal.
The next committee hearing is scheduled for July.