The January 6 committee in the House had another public hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon featuring testimony from former top officials at the Justice Department, including former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who faced pressure from then-President Trump to act in support of lies about the 2020 election.
A pre-hearing report from The New York Times indicated new information would be emerging during the Thursday hearing, adding onto the already substantial public record. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) was set to help lead questioning witnesses and presenting evidence during Thursday’s hearing, and he’s previously indicated he believes in his personal capacity that Trump is guilty of criminal activity. The Thursday hearing — as its witness list suggests — was slated to hinge on attempts to cajole officials at the federal Justice Department (in addition to Rosen) to take actions to back up Trump’s attempts to stay in power despite his documented election loss.
“The story of how Mr. Trump attempted to intervene in the workings of the Justice Department to keep himself in office has been well documented by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Jan. 6 committee, but aides to the House inquiry said Thursday’s hearing will contain new revelations,” The New York Times said, explaining the panel was set to go over Trump’s pressure for “officials to falsely declare that there was widespread fraud in the election, file lawsuits to benefit his campaign and appoint a conspiracy theorist as a special counsel to investigate the election.” Other topics would also be covered.
Besides Rosen, Thursday’s witnesses were slated to include former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and Steven Engel, who led the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department. One high-profile flashpoint in Trump’s attempts to use the powers of the Justice Department for his political ambitions came in early 2021, when he presented the idea during a January 3 meeting of replacing Rosen at the head of the Justice Department with then-fellow department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who — unlike Rosen — was supportive of Trump’s ambitions. Donoghue and Engel both apparently indicated to the then-president that they would resign if he went through with it. Then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone was also opposed to at least some of the key efforts involved in the push against the 2020 election outcome. Clark wanted to send out official letters to state legislators in multiple states raising false possibilities of widespread election fraud.
The letters Clark wanted to dispatch would have also pushed the targeted legislators to “reconsider certified election results,” the Times summarizes. According to Donoghue’s recounting, Cipollone told Trump in reference to Clark’s wishes: “That letter that this guy wants to send — that letter is a murder-suicide pact… It’s going to damage everyone who touches it. And we should have nothing to do with that letter. I don’t ever want to see that letter again.” Meanwhile, the panel is extending its schedule of public hearings as it continues to receive new information. After Thursday’s public proceedings, the committee will pick back up again with public hearings in July. “The original hearings would have wrapped up in June, but we are picking up new evidence on a daily basis with enormous velocity,” riot panel member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told reporters after a recent public hearing.