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US justice officials outline Trump’s ‘brazen’ takeover bid

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Lawmakers investigating the attack on the US Capitol on Thursday detailed Donald Trump’s efforts to recruit the Justice Department into his scheme to overturn his defeat to Joe Biden — attempting to replace its head with a loyalist who was “meddling in the outcome of a presidential election.”

Lawmakers investigating the attack on the US Capitol on Thursday detailed Donald Trump’s efforts to recruit the Justice Department into his scheme to overturn his defeat to Joe Biden — attempting to replace its head with a loyalist who was “meddling in the outcome of a presidential election.”

Oval Office showdown
At that point Trump began elevating a little-known mid-level department official named Jeffrey Clark, who embraced the outgoing president’s debunked theories.

Clark prepared a letter to the Georgia state assembly, the hearing was told, stating falsely that the department had found evidence of widespread voter fraud, but other officials refused to sign it. Other letters had also been prepared for other states.

Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told the committee in a videotaped deposition that he had informed Clark that his plan would amount to “committing a felony.”

Trump pushed to install Clark as attorney general over Rosen, and having Clark reverse the department’s conclusion that there was no evidence of fraud that could sway the election.

But Trump was forced to back off by a rebellion in the department’s senior ranks at a January 4 Oval Office meeting outlined in detail by the witnesses.

Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue, another high-ranking official named Steven Engel and White House counsel Pat Cipollone threatened to resign en masse, warning that they would take “hundreds and hundreds” of top federal prosecutors with them if Trump went ahead with his plan.

“I made the point that Jeff Clark is not even competent to serve as the attorney general. He’s never been a criminal attorney. He’s never conducted a criminal investigation in his life,” Donoghue recalled telling Trump.

Donoghue said he told Clark: “You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill?”

He also recalled warning Clark that his mission to push Trump’s election fraud claims was “nothing less than the United States Justice Department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election.”

‘Facts, evidence and law’
Under live questioning, Donoghue confirmed that he had rebuffed Trump when the then-president insisted the department could simply “say that the election was corrupt” and “leave the rest to me.”

Rosen said Trump had asked him during a December 31 meeting to seize voting machines from state governments and again Rosen refused, explaining that there was no justification for doing so.

Oval Office showdown
At that point Trump began elevating a little-known mid-level department official named Jeffrey Clark, who embraced the outgoing president’s debunked theories.

Clark prepared a letter to the Georgia state assembly, the hearing was told, stating falsely that the department had found evidence of widespread voter fraud, but other officials refused to sign it. Other letters had also been prepared for other states.

Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told the committee in a videotaped deposition that he had informed Clark that his plan would amount to “committing a felony.”

Trump pushed to install Clark as attorney general over Rosen, and having Clark reverse the department’s conclusion that there was no evidence of fraud that could sway the election.

But Trump was forced to back off by a rebellion in the department’s senior ranks at a January 4 Oval Office meeting outlined in detail by the witnesses.

Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue, another high-ranking official named Steven Engel and White House counsel Pat Cipollone threatened to resign en masse, warning that they would take “hundreds and hundreds” of top federal prosecutors with them if Trump went ahead with his plan.

“I made the point that Jeff Clark is not even competent to serve as the attorney general. He’s never been a criminal attorney. He’s never conducted a criminal investigation in his life,” Donoghue recalled telling Trump.

Donoghue said he told Clark: “You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill?”

He also recalled warning Clark that his mission to push Trump’s election fraud claims was “nothing less than the United States Justice Department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election.”

‘Facts, evidence and law’
Under live questioning, Donoghue confirmed that he had rebuffed Trump when the then-president insisted the department could simply “say that the election was corrupt” and “leave the rest to me.”

Rosen said Trump had asked him during a December 31 meeting to seize voting machines from state governments and again Rosen refused, explaining that there was no justification for doing so.

 

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