June 23, 2022

THE TIGHTENING NOOSE:

January 6 panel to focus on Trump's relentless pressure on justice department (Hugo Lowell,  22 Jun 2022, The Guardian)

Among the points the select committee is expected to cover include how Trump pursued a relentless campaign against the leadership of the justice department to more aggressively investigate debunked claims of fraud, and threatened to fire them when they refused.

The foundation of that effort, extraordinary even by the standards of the Trump presidency, culminated in a 3 January 2021 meeting at the White House where Trump almost appointed a loyalist as acting attorney general until the leadership warned of en masse resignations.

At that contentious meeting, Trump was about to move ahead with a plot to replace the acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, with Jeffrey Clark, a justice department official sympathetic to claims of election fraud.

The former president only relented when he was told by Rosen that the justice department leadership would resign - and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, said he and his deputy, Pat Philbin, would also quit if Trump followed through.

Trump's proposed plan amounted to a "murder-suicide pact", Cipollone is understood to have said, according to a participant at the meeting who testified to the Senate judiciary committee that issued an interim report last year.

The select committee is also expected to examine the fraught weeks leading up to that moment, and the growing fear inside the justice department that Trump might drag them in to overturn the election results.

Perry introduced Clark to Trump, the interim report found. The panel is expected to shed new light on that at the hearing led by Congressman Adam Kinzinger, as well as how Perry sought a presidential pardon days after 6 January.

The hearing is expected to be the select committee's final one in June - there will be at least two more hearings next month but probably not before 12 July when the House returns from recess - and will probably build on the interim report.

In doing so, the select committee is likely to relive other key moments: a 27 December 2020 call in which Trump pressured Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, to declare the election corrupt; Trump's push to get Clark to get Rosen to open investigations into fraud.

Rosen and Donoghue will testify at the hearing, as will Steven Engel, the then assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, the select committee has said. Clark invoked his fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination in a closed-door deposition.

"Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me" and congressional allies including the Republican congressman Scott Perry, Trump said on the call, according to notes taken by Rosen.

Posted by at June 23, 2022 6:00 AM

  

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