Donald Trump pressured top US Justice Department officials nearly daily in the run-up to the 6 January, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, urging officials to reverse his 2020 election defeat so that he could illegally hold onto power.
That was the testimony today by Jeffrey Rosen, a former acting attorney general during former President Trump’s administration, to the US House of Representatives select committee in Washington DC.
Mr Rosen said in the days leading up to 6 January, when Congress met to formally certify Democrat Joe Biden as the next president, Mr Trump repeatedly “asserted the Department of Justice had not done enough” to investigate false allegations that the election had been “stolen” through voter fraud.
“Between 23 December (2020), and 3 January (2021), the president either called or met with me virtually every day, with one or two exceptions such as Christmas Day,” Mr Rosen testified.
The former AG also testified that Mr Trump raised the possibility of a “special counsel” being appointed to investigate election fraud and that Mr Rosen meet with Trump associates including Rudy Giuliani, who were pushing the false election-fraud narrative.
Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue testified that President Trump had said to Justice Department officials: “What I’m just asking you to do is say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, who served under Mr Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, tweeted: “This is the smoking gun. Coupled with other testimony demonstrates both Trump’s substantive involvement and corrupt intent, requisite state of mind.”
The committee also put at the centre of today’s hearing the activities of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official and fervent Trump ally.
Mr Clark’s failed efforts to become acting attorney general, replacing Jeffrey Rosen, were detailed, along with his push to have the Justice Department write letters urging several election battleground states to take steps to declare Trump the 2020 winner, instead of Democrat Joe Biden, who won both the popular vote and Electoral College vote by wide margins.
“Donald Trump offered Mr Clark the job of acting attorney general, replacing Mr Rosen, with the understanding that Mr Clark would send this letter and take other actions the president requested,” said Republican Representative Liz Cheney, the committee vice chair.
The idea was forcefully opposed by Justice Department officials, some of whom threatened to resign if it went forward.
The hearing kicked off shortly after it was disclosed that federal law enforcement had raided Clark’s home.
“Donald Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate. He wanted the Justice Department to legitimise his lies,” committee chairperson Bennie Thompson said as the hearing began.
Russ Vought, the former director of the US Office of Management and Budget who recently hired Mr Clark to work for his legal advocacy group Center for Renewing America, confirmed the raid on Twitter.
He said more than a dozen federal law enforcement officials searched Mr Clark’s house in a pre-dawn raid, “put him in the streets in his PJs, and took his electronic devices”.
Jeffrey Clark provided a deposition to the select committee, and it showed excerpts of it in which he repeatedly invoked his legal right not to answer questions.
On Twitter earlier this year, Mr Clark called himself “one of the top targets of the politically motivated J6 committee.”
In a fiery speech outside the White House on 6 January, 2021, President Trump repeated his false claims of election fraud.
His supporters stormed the Capitol, sending lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence fleeing for their lives.
Four people died – one shot by police and the others of natural causes. Some 140 police officers were injured and one who fought rioters died the next day. Four officers later died by suicide.