Hearing 5 of the January 6 Select Committee

June 23, 2022
United States Capitol

For the department to insert itself into the political process this way, I think would have had grave consequences for the country that very well may have spiraled us into a constitutional crisis …

Former deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue during the House Select Committee’s fifth hearing on the events of January 6, 2020, testifying about the pressure allegedly put on the DOJ’s top officials by former President Donald Trump to affirm claims of election fraud.

Why It Matters: Testimony given in the fifth hearing held by the House Select Committee focused on the alleged pressure former President Trump put on the Department of Justice to affirm to the American people that there was voter fraud in the 2020 election. Chairman Bennie Thompson described it as "a brazen attempt to use the Justice Department to advance the President's personal political agenda" (13:59 in this video).

  • Acting attorney general at the time, Jeffery Rosen, testified that former Pres. Trump had spoken with him "virtually every day" for the first two weeks of Rosen's brief tenure, and that the main focus of the conversations was "dissatisfaction that the Justice Department, in his view, had not done enough to investigate election fraud.”
  • Donoghue (the second-highest ranked official in the DOJ at the time) testified that over a phone call with Pres. Trump, he went through various voter fraud claims "piece by piece to say, no, that's false" and told the president that the allegations had no merit, citing the investigations already completed by the DOJ.
  • Donoghue also testified in regards to Pres. Trump allegedly wanting the DOJ to file suit on claims of voter fraud on behalf of the American people, and provided this definition concerning those who constitute the "client" of the DOJ: "The American people do not constitute the client of the United States Justice Department. The one and only client of the United States Justice Department is the United States government. And the United States government does not have standing, as we were repeatedly told by our internal teams … that we simply did not have standing."
    • Donoghue further testified that he told Pres. Trump that the "DOJ can't and won't snap it's fingers to change the outcome of the election" — and that, according to Donoghue's own notes about the conversation, the president reportedly responded by saying, "That's not what I'm asking you to do … just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen." (52:34 – 53:25)
  • The hearing also focused on how top leadership at the DOJ allegedly fought to keep Pres. Trump from putting in a lower-ranked DOJ official — one who supported the president's voter fraud views — to replace Rosen as head of the DOJ. Reportedly, in a meeting with top DOJ officials when the president said he planned to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, several officials explained to him that there would be mass resignations across the DOJ if he were to do this. In response, Pres. Trump allegedly then decided to keep Rosen as the head of the DOJ.

1/6 panel hears of Trump’s pressure on Justice Department (Associated Press)

Click HERE to watch the hearing in full, as well as past hearings; the next hearing will take place in July.

Hearing 4 of the January 6 Select Committee (SmartHER News)

by Jenna Lee,