WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans to unveil new evidence Thursday about how President Donald J. Trump attempted to manipulate the Justice Department to help him participate in the Remaining in power after losing the 2020 election, aides said on Wednesday.
At its fifth public hearing this month, scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday, the panel plans to hear testimony from three former senior Justice Department officials who are expected to outline how Mr Trump tried to leave the office of the Attorney General to overthrow his defeat, an extraordinary case of a President meddling in the nation’s law enforcement apparatus for personal reasons.
Committee assistants said the panel will detail how Mr. Trump unsuccessfully urged department officials to falsely state that there was widespread fraud in the election, to file lawsuits in favor of his campaign, and to appoint a conspiracy theorist as special adviser to investigate the election. It will also chronicle his failed efforts to send false letters to state officials to undermine election results and eventually replace the acting attorney general, who refused to go along with his plans.
Mr Trump eventually withdrew after agency officials threatened mass resignations, but the committee is presenting his actions as a critical strand in a multifaceted attempt by the former president to undermine the election.
The witnesses scheduled to testify are Jeffrey A. Rosen, the former acting attorney general; Richard P. Donoghue, former Assistant Attorney General; and Steven A. Engel, former Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel.
The topics of the House Committee hearings on January 6th
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican and a member of the committee, is scheduled to play a central role in interviewing witnesses and presenting evidence. He has indicated the hearing could reveal more information about members of Congress seeking clemencies after January 6th.
The story of how Mr. Trump tried to interfere with the work of the Justice Department to keep himself in office was well-documented by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Jan. 6 House Committee, but aides to the Representatives Inquiry said the hearing on Thursday it will contain new revelations.
Department officials consistently told Mr Trump after the election that his allegations of widespread fraud were false, prompting him to back down from some of his most extreme proposals.
A dramatic moment occurred at an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 3, 2021, when Jeffrey Clark, a little-known department lawyer who had been strategizing how Trump could stay in power, suggested that the agency Vice provide a legal opinion President Mike Pence advised him on what actions to take during the joint session of Congress scheduled three days later when lawmakers were due to meet on the official election count that would confirm Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
“That’s an absurd idea,” interjected Mr. Engel, according to a statement he had submitted to the committee. “It is not the job of the Justice Department to provide legal advice to lawmakers on the scope of their duties.”
Mr Trump then spoke up and told Justice Department officials, who have repeatedly told him his allegations of widespread fraud were false, that they were not allowed to speak to Mr Pence.
“No one should be speaking to the vice president here,” Mr Trump said, according to Mr Engel.
Mr Trump would repeatedly urge Mr Pence to try to overturn the election results.
Also at that meeting, Mr. Trump suggested firing Mr. Rosen, who told him the 2020 election was not stolen, and replacing him with Mr. Clark, who was willing to do his will.
“Sir, I would resign immediately,” Mr. Donoghue said, according to a statement he made. “There’s no way I’m going to serve under that guy for a minute,” he said of Mr. Clark.
Mr. Trump then turned to Mr. Engel and said, “Steve, you would not resign, would you?” Mr. Engel replied, “Absolutely, Mr. President. You wouldn’t give me a choice.”
Justice Department officials also witnessed interactions between Pat A. Cipollone, White House Counsel, and Mr. Trump. The committee has urged Mr Cipollone to testify publicly, but he has so far refused.
Mr Cipollone opposed a plan put forward by Mr Clark, who wanted to distribute official letters to several state parliaments falsely alerting them that the election may have been stolen and urging them to reconsider the confirmed election results.
“This letter this guy is trying to send — this letter is a murder-suicide pact,” Mr. Cipollone told Mr. Trump, according to Mr. Donoghue. “It will damage anyone who touches it. And we shouldn’t have anything to do with that letter. I never want to see that letter again.”
The panel is planning at least two more hearings in July, according to its chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi. These sessions are expected to detail how a mob of violent extremists attacked Congress and how Mr Trump did nothing for more than three hours to call off the violence.