Trump allies have asked for forgiveness after backing his attempts to nullify the election

WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) – At least five Republican congressional allies of Donald Trump have asked the White House for forgiveness after backing his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, witnesses told the House inquiry. of the United States on the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol. .

Their names emerged at the end of a fifth day of hearings devoted to how the then president lobbied top Justice Department officials on a daily basis during his final weeks in office. help retain power illegally.

Trump has sought to replace acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department environmental lawyer and a vocal supporter of Trump’s false claims that his defeat was the result of widespread fraud.

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That decision was only triggered when most of the other Justice Department leaders threatened to resign en masse if Trump executed him.

“The president didn’t bother to actually investigate the facts. He just wanted the Justice Department to put its stamp of approval on the lies,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican committee member, said during Thursday’s hearing.

The committee heard from Rosen, his acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue, and former deputy attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel, who testified in person, and screened video testimony from other White House aides. of Trump.

This video testimony showed that Republican Representatives Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert and Scott Perry asked for Trump’s pardon, which could have shielded them from prosecution for any activity they may have engaged in before or during the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, a staunch Trump advocate, inquired with the White House about pardons but never sought any for himself, said Cassidy Hutchinson, assistant to the White House chief of staff. , Mark Meadows.

Perry has previously denied asking for forgiveness, while representatives for the other five did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump never responded to these pardon requests.

PRESSURE CAMPAIGN

Rosen said that in the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress convened to formally certify Democrat Joe Biden as the next president, Trump “repeatedly asserted that the Justice Department had no done enough” to investigate false claims that the election was “stolen” through voter fraud.

“Between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, the president called or met with me virtually every day, with one or two exceptions like Christmas Day,” Rosen said.

Donoghue testified that Trump told Justice Department officials, “What I’m just asking you to do is say he was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”

Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, tweeted: “This is compelling evidence. Coupled with other testimony, this demonstrates both the substantial involvement and corrupt intent of Trump, the mindset required.”

Former Justice Department officials called Clark incompetent and unqualified to lead the Justice Department as he pushed recommendations they said would be disastrous.

Clark also pressured Donoghue and Rosen to send a letter to Georgia lawmakers falsely claiming the Justice Department had “significant concerns” about the legitimacy of Biden’s victory in the state and echoing Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. They both refused.

Biden won both the popular vote and the Electoral College vote by wide margins.

Donoghue said that in a meeting in early January, Trump was warned of “hundreds and hundreds of resignations” if Clark were to take over as head of the agency. “Leadership would be gone. Jeff Clark would run a cemetery.”

The hearing began shortly after it was revealed that federal law enforcement raided Clark’s home.

BEFORE DAWN RAID

Russ Vought, the former director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget who recently hired Clark to work for his legal advocacy group Center for Renewing America, confirmed the raid on Clark’s home on Twitter.

He said more than a dozen federal law enforcement officials searched Clark’s home in a pre-dawn raid, “put him out on the street in his pajamas and took his electronics. “.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed there was law enforcement activity Wednesday in Lorton, Va., a suburb of Washington near where Clark lives, but declined to elaborate. details.

Clark provided a deposition to the select committee, and the committee showed excerpts in which he repeatedly invoked his legal right not to answer questions. On Twitter earlier this year, Clark called himself “one of the top targets of the politically motivated J6 committee.”

The Department of Justice is investigating whether there was a conspiracy to come up with alternative lists of bogus voters in battleground states in an attempt to nullify the election results.

According to a subpoena seen by Reuters that focuses on the fake voters list in Georgia, investigators are looking for copies of documents from October 2020 related to “any effort, plan or attempt to serve as a voter in favor of Donald J. Trump and/or (Vice President) Mike R. Pence.”

They are also looking for copies of communications between potential voters and any federal government employees, as well as communications involving Trump allies, including attorneys Giuliani and John Eastman.

In a fiery speech outside the White House on Jan. 6, Trump repeated his bogus allegations of voter fraud. His supporters stormed the Capitol, sending lawmakers and Pence fleeing for their lives.

Four people died on January 6, one shot by police and the others from natural causes. Some 140 police officers were injured and one who fought the rioters died the next day. Four officers later died by suicide.

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Reporting by Richard Cowan, Sarah N. Lynch and Moira Warburton, additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Rose Horowitch; Editing by Scott Malone, Rosalba O’Brien and Howard Goller

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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