January 6 Committee Focuses on Alleged Trump Efforts to Sway DOJ in 5th Hearing

January 6 Committee Focuses on Alleged Trump Efforts to Sway DOJ in 5th Hearing
Former President Donald Trump is displayed on a screen during the fourth hearing on the Jan. 6 investigation in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington on June 21, 2022. (Al Drago/Pool via Getty Images)
Joseph Lord

The House January 6 Committee in its fifth public hearing focused on efforts by President Donald Trump to sway the Justice Department (DOJ) to respond to his claims of election fraud.

The hearing is the most recent in an extended effort by the commission to paint the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally as part of a plot by the 45th president to plan an “insurrection” against the U.S. government.

In its past two hearings, the Democrat-dominated commission focused on claims that Trump had orchestrated a pressure campaign to cajole Vice President Mike Pence into refusing to certify electoral slates from contested battleground states and that he had orchestrated a similar campaign to sway state lawmakers and legislatures.

In its June 23 hearing, the committee focused on alleged efforts by Trump to install Jeffrey Clark, an assistant attorney who shared Trump’s attitude regarding fraud in the 2020 election, as head of the DOJ.

“We will show that Trump’s demands that the Department investigate baseless claims of election fraud continued into January 2021,” Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in his opening statement.

“Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate. He wanted the Justice Department to help legitimize his lies,” he added.

Alleged Efforts to Install Clark as DOJ Head Before Jan. 6

A large focus of the June 23 hearing involved alleged efforts by Trump to replace then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with DOJ official Clark.

Reportedly, Rosen had resisted efforts by the president to look into allegations of voter fraud, prompting Trump to consider replacing him.

Rosen said in testimony that Trump “looked at me and he underscored, ‘Well, the one thing we know is you’re not going to do anything. You don’t even agree that the concerns that are being presented are valid. And here is someone who has a different view, so why shouldn’t I do that, you know?’”

Compared to Rosen, who refused to address Trump’s allegations, Clark, according to witness testimony, repeatedly told Trump he would “conduct real investigations that would, in his view, uncover widespread fraud.”

Several DOJ officials said they resisted the plan, citing Clark’s lack of experience in criminal law and investigations, but that Trump continued to consider the option of replacing Rosen.

Kinzinger References Support for Bush Wars, Says Leaders Must ‘Be Willing to Sacrifice Our Political Careers’

During his opening statement Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of only two Republicans on the committee, referenced support for the wars begun by President George W. Bush as a motivating factor in his decision to originally run for Congress.

Kinzinger, who led much of the hearing on Thursday, defended Bush’s controversial wars as wars “to help ensure freedom and democracy were defended overseas.”

“A big reason I decided to run for Congress was my motivation to help ensure freedom and democracy were defended overseas,“ Kinzinger said. ”I remember making a commitment—out loud a few times, in my heart repeatedly, even to today—that if we’re going to ask Americans to be willing to die in service to our country, we as leaders must at least be willing to sacrifice our political careers when integrity and our oath requires it.”

“After all, losing a job is nothing compared to losing your life,” he added.

Kinzinger himself has paid a high price for his role on the controversial January 6 panel.

After announcing that he would not seek reelection in 2022, the Republican National Committee (RNC) decided to censure Kinzinger as well as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the only other Republican on the panel, removing them from the political and financial support of the national party.
The RNC said Kinzinger and Cheney, through their role on the committee, have “demonstrated, with actions and words, that they support Democrat efforts to destroy President [Donald] Trump more than they support winning back a Republican majority in 2022.”

Clark’s Home Raided by Feds Hours Before 5th Hearing

Less than 24 hours before the hearing began, federal agents launched a raid on Clark’s home.

The DOJ refused to publicly reveal the reason for the raid, but the move was blasted by the leader of the Center for Renewing America (CRA), where Clark serves as a fellow.

“The new era of criminalizing politics is worsening in the US. Yesterday more than a dozen DOJ law enforcement officials searched Jeff Clark’s house in a pre-dawn raid, put him in the streets in his pajamas, and took his electronic devices,” Russ Vought, CRA president and former Trump official, said in a statement.

“All because Jeff saw fit to investigate voter fraud. This is not America, folks. The weaponization of government must end. Let me be very clear. We stand by Jeff and so must all patriots in this country.”

Hope of Trump Indictment Underlies Hearings

Members of the Democrat-dominated Jan. 6 Committee have made no effort to hide their hope that Trump will face criminal charges for his actions on and leading up to Jan. 6.

“I would like to see the Justice Department investigate any credible allegation of criminal activity on the part of Donald Trump or anyone else,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “They need to be investigated if there’s credible evidence, which I think there is.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said the committee has laid out in various legal pleadings “the criminal statutes that we think have been violated,” and claimed that the panel has evidence that Trump knew Democratic rival candidate Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

“I think we can prove to any reasonable, open-minded person that Donald Trump absolutely knew because he was surrounded by lawyers,” Raskin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He continues to spread it to this very day. He continues to foist that propaganda on his followers.”

“I certainly think the president is guilty of knowing what he did,“ Kinzinger said when asked during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” if Trump should face criminal charges. ”Seditious conspiracy. Being involved in these, you know, kind of different segments of pressuring DOJ, Vice President, etc.”

It remains unclear whether the DOJ will take the unprecedented step of opening a criminal investigation of Trump, whatever the calls from members of the panel.

Arrested Jan. 6 Rallygoers Have Not Faced Insurrection Charges

Thus far, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s DOJ, in one of the most resource-intensive manhunts in its history, has arrested over 840 people who attended the rally at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Despite claims that Jan. 6 constituted an “insurrection,” top Jan. 6 attorney Joe McBride noted in an interview with The Epoch Times that nobody arrested in connection to the Capitol breach has faced insurrection charges.

Only a handful, 16 people at the time of publication, have been charged with sedition.

Sedition, defined under U.S. law as “[conspiracy] to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States … or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States,” carries a steeper maximum penalty than insurrection, with those found guilty liable for up to 20 years in federal prison.

However, an insurrection conviction, which only carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, also strips those found guilty of the right to hold public office.

Thus, even as the DOJ and Democrats have continued to paint the Jan. 6 rally as an “insurrection,” the DOJ apparently lacks confidence that such a charge could stick in a court of law.

Even after 17 months, the DOJ has said, the investigation is far from over. The department says it is still looking for over 350 people who allegedly “committed violent acts on Capitol grounds.”