The Jan. 6 committee investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol is taking a break.
The committee is focusing on how former President Donald Trump tried to use the Justice Department to bolster his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
So far, the committee heard live testimony from three top officials who led the Justice Department in the final days of the Trump administration. They testified about how the then-President implemented a pressure campaign to give baseless fraud allegations credibility and how Trump considered replacing the acting attorney general with an official more receptive to his false claims.
Here’s who was on the panel:
- Jeffrey A. Rosen, former acting attorney general
- Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general
- Steven Engel, former assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel
The committee is also focusing on the role of Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ lawyer who pushed Trump’s fraud claims inside the Justice Department. Clark himself is not testifying, but the committee is presenting evidence that showed how that push was rejected by Rosen and Donoghue, which led to Trump considering putting Clark in charge of the department.
Here are the key moments so far:
- Letters pushing election fraud to states: Clark wrote a draft of a letter that was intended to be sent to the Georgia state legislature and other states claiming election fraud and urging states to convene a special session. In addition to Clark's signature, there was also a place for Rosen and Donoghue to sign, according to exhibits shown by the committee. They both refused to sign the letter, according to the committee.
- Notes on Trump’s fraud claims: Donoghue said he took handwritten notes during a 90-minute conversation with former President Trump after he made a fraud allegation he "had not heard" before. During the meeting, Donoghue said he tried to explain to Trump on “numerous occasions” that there was no evidence of fraud. In the notes, Donoghue wrote that he said the Justice Department can’t and won’t change the outcome of the election. In response to this, he said Trump told him and another top Justice Department official that they should “just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
- Jan. 3, 2021 meeting in the Oval Office: Top Justice Department and White House officials pushed back against Clark during the high-stakes Oval Office meeting where Trump considered installing him as attorney general so he could use the powers of the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election. Donoghue said in a video deposition clip that 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. He’s never been in front of a grand jury, much less a trial jury.” Trump ultimately backed away from his plan to install Clark as the head of the Justice Department — after Rosen, Donoghue and Engel had threatened to resign in protest.
- Barr authorized DOJ investigation: Former Attorney General Bill Bar told the House select committee that he authorized the Justice Department to investigate election fraud in 2020 because if he didn’t, he wasn’t “sure we would have a transition at all.” Throughout its hearings, the committee has repeatedly played clips of Barr saying there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Barr publicly stated that DOJ had found no evidence of fraud in December 2020, and resigned as attorney general just a few weeks later. Rosen took over after him.
- Outside the committee hearing: Federal investigators on Wednesday conducted a search of Clark's home, people briefed on the matter tell CNN. A spokesperson for the US Attorney's Office in Washington confirmed that "there was law enforcement activity in the vicinity" of Clark's home but declined to comment on any particular person or activity. Clark had met with the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 back in February, but pleaded the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times during his nearly two hours-long depositions.