Takeaway: Trump risked provoking a ‘constitutional crisis’

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Jan. 6 committee is using Thursday’s hearing to show the pressure Donald Trump put on the Justice Department to install a loyalist at the helm who would prosecute the false allegations of voter fraud by the then-president and would stop certification of the 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

It is the latest tale of how close a constitutional crisis could be in the United States if department heads had not threatened to resign and the defeated incumbent was able to orchestrate a plan for the government to overturn the results. elections in several pivotal states.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., led the hearing, saying it would show “how close we were to losing everything.”

Some important takeaways from this month’s fifth hearing of the committee investigating the causes of the insurrection on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021. The committee tried to argue that Trump’s efforts to reverse his loss resulted in the murderous siege after sending supporters to the Capitol as Congress certified Biden’s victory.

TRUMP’S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT IN TURMOIL

Day after day, Trump pressured department heads to dig into false allegations of voter fraud after the November 2020 election.

Former Attorney General William Barr had described the whirlwind of bogus voter fraud theories stemming from Trump’s orbit as “wack-a-mole.”

The department declined Trump’s overtures because “we didn’t think they were appropriate,” testified Jeffrey Rosen, who became acting attorney general after Barr resigned.

Officials told Trump that states hold their own elections, without federal interference. But Trump only pressed harder, despite being repeatedly told there was no fraud.

In late December 2020, Trump asked Rosen what Rosen found to be a “peculiar” question: Do you know Jeff Clark?

Trump was eyeing Clark to take over at the department.

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WHO IS JEFF CLARK?

Clark headed the civil division that handled environmental cases. He was introduced to Trump by a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus group.

Clark had circulated a proposal that battleground state legislatures would not certify their election results. By holding back their voters for Biden, contested states could submit surrogate voters loyal to Trump.

Clark’s insights alarmed his colleagues, as did his sudden rise into Trump’s orbit as a potential new acting attorney general.

“It may well have dragged us into a constitutional crisis,” testified Richard Donoghue, the former acting deputy attorney general.

During a heated meeting where Trump was discussing Clark’s rise to the White House, Donoghue remarked that “Jeff Clark wasn’t even qualified to serve as attorney general.”

When Clark replied that he had worked on complicated civil and environmental issues, Donoghue retorted, “How about you go back to your office and we’ll call you if there’s an oil spill?”

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MISSIONS GIVEN TO “FALSE VOTERS”

The hearing was triggered as the Justice Department stepped up its own investigation, searching Clark’s home in Virginia this week as federal agents also served subpoenas across the country tied to the scheme by Trump allies. to create sets of fake voters with the intent to invalidate Biden’s victory.

The purpose of the searches was not immediately clear, but they came as the House committee pressured the department to step up its investigation.

Among those being investigated are Republican officials in key states, including those working on fake voters in the run-up to Jan. 6, when Congress will tally the election results.

Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer received a subpoena and Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald turned his phone over to federal agents on Wednesday when they approached him outside his car in Las Vegas and submitted a warrant. That’s according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to publicly discuss the developments and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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For full coverage of the January 6 hearings, visit https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege

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