Jan. 6 committee holds fifth hearing

richard donoghue handwritten note trump january 6 hearing
See the notes DOJ official took on Trump phone call
02:22 - Source: CNN

What we're covering here

  • Three high-ranking Department of Justice officials testified before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection Thursday about former President Trump’s pressure campaign on DOJ to intervene in the 2020 election.
  • They described a high-stakes Oval Office meeting where Trump considered firing Jeffrey Rosen, the former acting attorney general, and installing ex-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, who had pushed a plan to overturn the 2020 election.
  • While the Jan. 6 committee can’t bring legal charges against Trump, its central mission has been to uncover the full scope of his attempt to stop the transfer of power and connect his efforts to the violence at the Capitol. The Justice Department would ultimately need to be the one to decide whether to bring criminal charges.

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about today’s hearing in the posts below.

50 Posts

Here are key takeaways from the fifth day of Jan. 6 hearings

Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, left, swears in Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy US attorney general, from right, Jeffrey Rosen, former acting US attorney general, and Steven Engel, former assistant US attorney general for the office of legal counsel, during a hearing in Washington, D.C on Thursday.

The Jan. 6 select committee’s latest public hearing on Thursday shed considerable new light on former President Donald Trump’s attempts to weaponize the Justice Department in the final months of his term as part of his plot to overturn the 2020 election and stay in power.

The hearing kicked off mere hours after federal investigators raided the home of Jeffrey Clark, who was one of the key Justice Department figures who was involved in Trump’s schemes. He has denied any wrongdoing related to January 6.

Three Trump appointees testified in-person on Thursday, joining a growing list of Republicans who have gone under oath to provide damning information about Trump’s post-election shenanigans. The witnesses were former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, who led the department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Here are takeaways from Thursday’s hearing:

Inside a December 2020 Oval Office meeting: The hearing brought to life a high-stakes Oval Office meeting in December 2020, where Trump considered firing the acting attorney general and installing Clark, who was willing to use the powers of federal law enforcement to encourage state lawmakers to overturn Trump’s loss.

Going into these summer hearings, we already knew a lot about the meeting. But on Thursday, for the first time, we heard live testimony from some of the Justice Department officials who were in the room, including Rosen, the then-acting attorney general. (He survived the meeting, after Trump was told that there would be mass resignations at the Justice Department if he replaced Rosen with Clark.)

Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said Clark was repeatedly “clobbered over the head” during the meeting. He told the committee that he called Clark a “f—ing a–hole” and said his plans would’ve been illegal. He also said Clark’s plan to send letters to battleground states was “nuts.”

In videotaped testimony that was played Thursday, Donoghue said he eviscerated Clark’s credentials during the meeting, explaining that Clark was woefully underqualified to serve as attorney general.

“You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill,” Donoghue said in the deposition, describing what he told Clark at the White House meeting.

Donoghue said then-White House Counsel Pat Cipollone called Clark’s plan a “murder-suicide pact.”

Donoghue himself described Clark’s plan as “impossible” and “absurd.”