The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Jan. 6 hearing recap Trump White House aides say multiple GOP members of Congress asked for pardons

Richard Donoghue said on June 23 that Justice Department officials threatened to resign if President Donald Trump installed Jeffrey Clark as attorney general. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
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The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection held its fifth hearing of the month Thursday, with a focus on President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to help overturn the 2020 presidential election, which was won by Joe Biden.

Multiple Republican members of Congress asked White House officials whether Trump would preemptively pardon them for their activities in the lead-up to Jan. 6 before he left office, testimony provided by former White House aides to the committee shows.

Former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen testified Thursday that the Justice Department “held firm” against political pressure to take sides over the 2020 election results. Rosen said he told Trump that the department could not seize voting machines from the states because there was nothing wrong with the machines; Trump grew agitated.

Richard Donoghue, another senior Justice Department official, said Trump pressured officials to declare there was voter fraud in the election. “Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” Trump said. Donoghue said he found none of Trump’s fraud allegations credible.

Steven A. Engel, a long-serving department official who warned Trump that any move to replace Rosen would prompt mass resignations, also appeared in person before the committee Thursday.

What you need to know

  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the committee’s vice chair, said in her opening remarks that the panel will reveal which Republican lawmakers sought presidential pardons from Trump after the Jan. 6 attack.
  • Federal agents conducted a search Wednesday at the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who played a key role in Trump’s efforts to get law enforcement officials to challenge Biden’s victory.
  • A Justice Department official who was working from the inside to help push Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen was working directly with John Eastman, a key Trump legal adviser, the committee revealed.
  • Thursday’s hearing will be the final hearing this month by the Jan. 6 committee, but the panel is planning hearings in July as it weighs what members have said is voluminous evidence still coming in.
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