commission slams Trump’s ‘brazen’ pressure on Justice Department

The parliamentary commission of inquiry into the assault on the Capitol attacked Thursday, June 23, the attempts “shameless” of Donald Trump to push the Ministry of Justice to support his false allegations of electoral fraud around the presidential election won by Joe Biden. During this fifth public hearing, the nine elected officials – seven Democrats and two Republicans repudiated by their party – detailed the pressure exerted by Mr. Trump on the ministry and his efforts to appoint one of his faithful, Jeffrey Clark, to head it. ready to “interference in the results of a presidential election”.

“Donald Trump didn’t just want the Department of Justice to investigate. He wanted the Department of Justice to help him legitimize his lies and baselessly claim that the election was rigged”noted Commission Chairman Bennie Thompson. The elected officials returned to the tensions within the ministry in the days preceding January 6, 2021, when the defeated president had faced an internal revolt while trying to install one of his relatives at the head of the institution. “It was a brazen attempt to use the Department of Justice to advance the president’s personal political interests”added Mr. Thompson.

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Former acting deputy minister Richard Donoghue testified for his part that he repeatedly told the former US president that his accusations of voter fraud were unfounded. Mr. Trump simply repeated that he had won the presidential election. “The president said, just say the election was rigged and leave the rest in my hands and those of the elected Republicans”said Mr. Donoghue, based on his notes taken during a telephone conversation with Mr. Trump and former acting minister Jeffrey Rosen.

“Facts, evidence and laws”

Seeing that the highest officials of the Ministry of Justice refused to bend, the defeated president tried to install one of his relatives at the head of the institution. Jeffrey Clark, a mid-level civil servant who embraced the president’s theories of a rigged election, was to overrule the department’s findings, which found no evidence of fraud that could have changed the outcome of the November ballot.

Jeffrey Clark was also to intervene on behalf of the ministry to refuse to certify the result of the election in the key state of Georgia, where Joe Biden had won with only 12,000 votes in advance. The Commission learned that Mr. Clark had prepared a letter for Georgia’s elected officials, in which he claimed that the department had uncovered evidence of massive fraud in Georgia, which was untrue. But other Justice Department officials refused to sign the letter, and one of the White House legal advisers, Eric Herschmann, revealed that he told Jeff Clark that sending the letter would have been “a crime”.

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Mr. Trump told Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue that he was being advised to fire them and appoint Jeffrey Clark as acting minister. ” I answered him (…) Mr. President, you need to have the right officials for you, but you need to understand that the Department of Justice operates on the basis of facts, evidence and laws. And that won’t change.”, Mr. Donoghue said. The former deputy minister also said he warned Jeffrey Clark that his efforts to substantiate allegations of fraud “were nothing less than interference by the Ministry of justice in the results of a presidential election”.

Resignation threat

Jeffrey Rosen, Richard Donoghue, Steven Engel, a senior department official, and Pat Cipollone, a White House lawyer, threatened to resign during a meeting with the president on January 3, warning that they would take the best with them. federal prosecutors across the country. Donald Trump has given up naming Jeffrey Clark, who refused to testify before the commission of inquiry.

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The latter announced on Wednesday that two additional sessions would take place before a break in work on July 4 and a resumption later, if necessary. After a year of investigation, the commission would like to present its conclusions before the end of the summer, putting Donald Trump at the heart of an attempted coup d’etat which culminated in the assault by hundreds of his supporters on the Congress building in Washington on January 6, 2021, as elected officials certified Joe Biden’s victory.

The images of chaos in and around the Capitol had gone around the world and shaken American democracy for a few hours.

The World with AFP