Washington (AP) — House Jan. 6 Committee is using Thursday’s hearing In a sign of pressure Donald Trump put on the Justice Department to appoint a loyalist at the helm, he would pursue the then-president’s false claims about voter fraud and halt the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.
It was the latest report on how the U.S. would be approaching a constitutional crisis if department leaders did not threaten to resign and the defeated incumbents were able to engineer the administration’s plan to overturn election results in several key states.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinsinger presided over the hearing, saying it would show “how close we are to losing all of this.”
Some key takeaways from the committee’s fifth hearing this month are investigating the causes of the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. The committee has been trying to demonstrate that Trump’s efforts to reverse losses led to a deadly siege of sending supporters to the Capitol as Congress proved Biden won.
Trump’s Justice Department in turmoil
Day in and day out, Trump presses department leaders to dig up false claims of election fraud after the November 2020 election.
Former Attorney General William Barr described the swirl of false voter fraud theories from Trump’s orbit as a “wack-a-mole.”
The department rejected Trump’s offer because “we didn’t think they were appropriate,” testified Jeffrey Rosen, who became acting attorney general after Barr stepped down.
Officials told Trump that states conduct their own elections without federal interference. But Trump just pressed harder, despite being repeatedly told there was no fraud.
In late December 2020, Trump asked Rosen what Rosen found “special”: Do you know Jeff Clark?
Trump wants Clark to take over the department.
Who is Jeff Clark?
Clark leads the civil division that handles environmental cases. He was introduced to Trump by a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who is the leader of the House conservative Freedom Caucus.
Clark has been circulating a proposal that would let battleground state legislatures not certify their election results. By blocking Biden’s electors, contested states could submit alternate electors loyal to Trump.
Clark’s idea shocked his colleagues, as did his sudden entry into Trump’s orbit as a potential new acting attorney general.
“This could very well put us in a constitutional crisis,” former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue testified.
As Trump joined others at the White House to discuss Clark’s rise, in a heated meeting, Donoghue noted that “Jeff Clark doesn’t even have the ability to be attorney general.”
When Clark shot back that he had dealt with complex civil and environmental matters, Donoghue countered: “How about you go back to the office, we’ll call you in the event of an oil spill?”
Subpoenas served on ‘fake voters’
Hearings are on hold as the Justice Department escalates its own investigation, Finding Clark’s Virginia home This week, federal agents also issued subpoenas across the country to Trump allies related to the plan to create a group of fake voters aimed at nullifying a Biden victory.
The purpose of the searches was unclear, but they came as House committees pressured the department to step up its investigation.
Among those being investigated are Republican officials in key states, including those who worked for fake voters until Jan. 6, when Congress will count the election results.
Georgia Republican Chairman David Shaffer received a subpoena, and Nevada Republican Chairman Michael McDonald handed the phone to federal agents Wednesday when they approached him outside his car in Las Vegas and presented a warrant. The people, who were not authorized to discuss developments publicly, spoke on condition of anonymity, according to the people familiar with the matter.
For full coverage of the January 6 hearing, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege