WASHINGTON – That House Committee of January 6th used hearing on Thursday to show the pressure Donald Trump was putting on the Justice Department to appoint a loyalist who would pursue the then-President’s false allegations of voter fraud and stop the confirmation of the 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
It is the latest account of how close the United States would have come to a constitutional crisis had department heads not threatened to resign and the defeated incumbent been able to stage a plan for the government to improve election results in several key states to tip.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., chaired the hearing and said it would show “how close we came to losing everything.”
Some key takeaways from this month’s fifth hearing by the committee investigating the causes of the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot. The committee has tried to argue that Trump’s efforts to reverse his loss led to the deadly siege after sending supporters to the Capitol as Congress ratified Biden’s victory.
TRUMP’S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT IN TURMOIL
Day after day, Trump pressured department heads to investigate false allegations of voter fraud following the November 2020 election.
Former Attorney General William Barr had called the flurry of bogus voter fraud theories emanating from Trump’s orbit a “wack-a-mole.”
The department rejected Trump’s offers because “we didn’t think they were reasonable,” testified Jeffrey Rosen, who became assistant attorney general after Barr resigned.
Officials told Trump that states are conducting their own elections, free from federal interference. But Trump only pushed harder despite being repeatedly told there was no cheating.
In late December 2020, Trump asked Rosen a question Rosen found “peculiar”: Do you know Jeff Clark?
Trump eyed Clark to take over the department.
WHO IS JEFF CLARK?
Clark headed the civil division that dealt with environmental cases. He was introduced to Trump by a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Clark had floated a proposal that would cause battleground state legislators not to confirm their election results. By holding back their voters for Biden, the disputed states could propose alternative voters loyal to Trump.
Clark’s ideas alarmed his peers, as did his sudden rise in Trump’s orbit as a potential new acting attorney general.
“It may well have thrown us into a constitutional crisis,” Richard Donoghue, the former assistant attorney general, testified.
At a heated meeting, as Trump swam with the others in the White House about Clark’s rise, Donoghue noted that “Jeff Clark wasn’t even fit to serve as Attorney General.”
When Clark shot back that he’d been working on complicated civil and environmental issues, Donoghue retorted, “How about you go back to your office and we call you if there’s an oil spill?”
Subpoenas against “fake electors”
The hearing was launched as the Justice Department escalated its own investigation. Search of Clark’s home in Virginia This week, as federal agents also served subpoenas across the country related to Trump allies’ plan to create fake voter sets with intent to invalidate Biden’s win.
The purpose of the searches wasn’t immediately clear, but they came as the House Committee put pressure on the department to step up its investigation.
Among those under investigation are Republican officials in key states, including those working on the fake electoral college in the run-up to Jan. 6, when Congress would count the election results.
Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer received a subpoena and Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald handed his phone to federal agents Wednesday when they approached him outside his car in Las Vegas and presented an arrest warrant. So say people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to discuss the developments publicly and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
For full coverage of the January 6 hearings, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.
https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/23/takeaways-trump-risked-provoking-constitutional-crisis/ Trump risks provoking a “constitutional crisis”.