WASHINGTON — EDITOR'S NOTE — WUSA9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer will be blogging and live-tweeting from the hearing room during proceedings of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Follow him on Twitter here.
On Thursday, three former high-ranking Justice Department officials will testify publicly before the January 6th Committee about former President Donald Trump’s attempts to misuse the department to stay in power, according to committee staff.
In a briefing to reporters Wednesday, aides said the testimony and evidence will focus on Trump’s pressure campaign in the waning weeks of his administration against his acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen. Rosen will testify in person, along with his former deputy at the DOJ, Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, the former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.
The witnesses are expected to testify that, following his loss in the 2020 presidential election, Trump asked senior DOJ officials – including Rosen, who filled the role vacated by the departure of former Attorney General Bill Barr – to publicly support his unfounded statements about widespread election fraud.
“Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” Trump told Rosen in a Dec. 27, 2021, phone call, according to notes taken by Donoghue.
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In video depositions with the committee, Barr testified he told Trump repeatedly his claims of election fraud were baseless and said Trump’s plan to overturn the election led directly to him exiting the administration.
When, after Barr’s departure, Rosen also refused to go along with Trump’s plan, the former president reportedly turned to another Justice Department lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, who proposed a plan to replace Rosen with himself. Clark would then reverse the department’s course and immediately issue fraudulent letters urging state legislatures to convene special sessions to examine “irregularities” in the 2020 election and, ultimately, to send slates of alternate electors to D.C. on Jan. 6. Rosen and Donoghue both refused to sign the letter.
A major focus of Thursday’s testimony was expected to be the Jan. 3, 2021, meeting in which DOJ officials – including Donoghue – threatened to resign on the spot if Rosen was replaced with Clark. Clark was subpoenaed by the committee, but pleaded the Fifth Amendment throughout his deposition. The committee voted unanimously in December to recommend referring Clark to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress, but the House did not vote on that recommendation after Clark agreed to meet with the committee.
Thursday’s hearing was also expected to cover other asks of the DOJ by Trump, including the appointment of a special counsel to pursue his fraud claims and support for lawsuits being brought by his presidential campaign. Those lawsuits were ultimately nearly unanimously thrown out by judges across the country.
The hearing was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday.
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