A recap of today’s hearing, which focused on the pressure campaign that targeted the federal agency charged with the enforcement of our laws—the Department of Justice. I’m not a lawyer, but spoiler alert: dead to rights. #HATH 🧵
The hearings today explored how Trump tried to misuse the DOJ to hold onto power, to investigate claims of fraud and legitimize his lies. When these efforts failed, he sought to replace Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark. /1
Trump wanted a lawyer who would do whatever it took, put the full weight of the DOJ behind the effort to overturn the election. /2
Rep. Cheney “we’ve just begun to show American people the evidence, much more to come in the hearings and in the written report.” She offered a summary of the previous hearings. If you missed them, here are summaries. /3
The key focus is a series of conversations culminating in a draft letter, which DOJ leadership refused to sign. It was drafted by Jeff Clark, intended to be sent to GA state legislature. /4
The letter claimed that that DOJ’s investigations had identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the elections in many states, including GA. There was no evidence for these claims. Trump knew they were a lie. /5
Rep. Kinzinger opening statement: when he decided to run for office, he pledged that if he was going to ask Americans to die in service to country, he must be willing to lose his job if oath requires it. The witnesses today willing to sacrifice careers for their oath. /6
The president’s political interests must not shape DOJ, must not use DOJ to do political bidding, justice must be blind. Instead, Trump wanted the DOJ to sow doubt in legitimacy of election, if DOJ could lend credibility to conspiracies, people would believe the Big Lie. /7
The committee included clips from Attorneys General Sessions, Holder, Mukasey, Loretta Lynch about role of the AG on importance of independent Department of Justice. The commitment to Constitution always comes first. /8
Three witnesses testified in person today. Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, and Former Assistant Attorney General for Legal Counsel Steven Engel. They all spoke at turns, rather than one at a time. /9
Between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, Acting AG Rosen called or met with Trump almost every day (except Christmas). In general, common element was Trump’s dissatisfaction that DOJ had not done enough to investigate election fraud. /10
Trump made several requests over this period: investigate allegations of election fraud, repeated requests for Rosen to meet with Giuliani, request DOJ file case before Supreme court, request DOJ make public statements, send letter to GA and other states. /11
“DOJ declined all requests because we did not think they were appropriate based on the facts and the law.” /12
On Dec. 15, day after Barr announced resignation, Donoghue and Rosen were summoned to the White House to discuss allegations in Michigan. Trump insisted he had won the election and that DOJ should use report to tell American people results of election weren’t trustworthy. /13
On December 27, they had a 90-minute conversation with the president. The call was an escalation, the requests became more urgent. New arsenal of allegations. /14
Donoghue: Incumbent on me to make clear to president what investigations had shown. We had concluded that allegations had no merit. “I wanted to cut through the noise, clear a lot of people whispering his ear, feeding him conspiracy theories.” /15
Just like Barr, Donoghue went piece by piece, said every allegation was untrue. For example, the Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG) report in Michigan and the truck tactor trailer of ballots. He “tried to educate the president.” /16
Kinzinger: “Were any allegations credible.” Donoghue: “no.” /17
Donoghue began taking notes at the beginning of this call because the allegations were new to him and he wanted to be sure he investigated each one. Trump kept asking, “where is the DOJ?” /18
Donoghue explained that states run elections, DOJ isn’t quality control. If a state ran their election in a defective way, it’s for the state or Congress to correct. He understood why the president, as a layman, wouldn’t understand why the DOJ wouldn’t have a role. /19
The American people aren’t the client of the DOJ, the US government is the only client. US government doesn’t have standing to bring a case about most state elections. /20
Donoghue (I think) also testified, “the DOJ can’t and won’t snap its fingers and change the election.” Trump replied, “that’s not what I’m asking you to do, I’m asking you to say it’s corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.” /21
At this point, Trump was planning on congressional support. The coordinated efforts between the DOJ, White House, and Congress were not accident. /22
At the same time, Trump called Rosen on his first day as Acting AG. The president mentioned he wanted to work with Jeffrey Clark, which struck Rosen as odd. None of the departments with which Clark worked should have had anything to do with the election. /23
On December 21, some Republican members of congress met with Trump in Oval Office to discuss overturning the election. The committee showed footage of Marjorie Taylor Greene talking about the meeting on TV and Mark Meadow’s tweet about it later. /24
According to National Archive records, Rep. Scott Perry attended the meeting and the next day he returned to White House with Jeffrey Clark. Perry brought Clark at the president’s request. /25
Rudy Giuliani had suggested that “someone should be put in charge of the DOJ that isn’t frightened by what’s going to be done to their reputation because DOJ was filled with people like that.” Perry agreed and pushed Clark as the new AG. /26
On December 26, Rosen called Clark to ask if there was anything he should know. Clark mentioned this meeting. Rosen asked how that happened. Clark got defensive, said it was unplanned, he was contrite, said it wouldn’t happen again. /27
The DOJ has a policy that restricts more sensitive issues to higher ups at both DOJ and WH, most the AG and the deputy AGs. The DOJ is strictly hierarchical to avoid any appearance of impropriety and to ensure that only a few hands handle the most sensitive materials. /28
At this time, both Pat Cipollone and his deputy, Philbin, also told Clark to stand down and that it was not appropriate to talk to White House about legal matters. /29
That same day, Perry requested to Meadows that Clark be elevated in department: “11 days to Jan. 6, 25 to inauguration, we’ve got to get going.” /30
Around this time, Clark sent Donoghue and Rosen the draft letter. Donoghue said he “read email and letter twice to be sure I understood.” Sat down to compose a response to give prompt response rejecting it out of hand. /31
He said that the letter was not the department’s role, contrary to the facts developed by DOJ investigations, if the DOJ had involved itself, would have had grave consequences for country, perhaps spiraling into constitutional crisis. /32
Rosen, Donoghue, Clark met shortly thereafter. Rosen said, “what you are doing is nothing short of having DOJ meddle in the outcome of the presidential election.” It was evidently a very tense meeting. /33
Nonetheless, between Dec. 28th and Jan. 2nd, Clark moved down this path, called witnesses, got briefing from DNI, conducting investigations of his own. Rosen confronted Clark once he learned that Clark had been conducting investigations, Clark got very defensive. /34
While they were working on the GA letter, the president and supporters were pressuring DOJ to take other actions. The president sent the DOJ a draft of a court case for the department to file in front of the Supreme Court. /35
Engel replied, “There is no legal basis to bring this lawsuit, anyone who thinks otherwise simply does not know the law, much less the Supreme Court.” /36
It would have been highly unusual for the DOJ to file a case drafted by someone outside of the department. It also would have been untimely and the DOJ had no standing. The Court wouldn’t have taken it. /37
Trump also asked the DOJ to appoint a state AG as special counsel. The state law in question prohibited the state AG from accepting the position. Barr had also already told Trump there was no reason for a special counsel. /38
When all these plans failed, Trump rushed back from Mar-a-Lago on December 31. He asked Rosen and Donoghue: “why don’t you guys seize machines.” Rosen said DHS had seen no evidence to compel that action. /39
Kinzinger: “So no factual basis to seize machines.”

Rosen then interrupted Kinzinger and said “I don’t think there was legal authority either.” /40
On Jan. 1, the next day, Meadows sent another email with new allegations. He asked DOJ to send Clark to Fulton County, offered the first hint that the president was considering making a leadership change by Monday, Jan. 4. /41
He also asked DOJ to look into fraud allegations in NM and meet with Rudy Giuliani about allegations of fraud stemming from Italy. Rosen refused to meet with campaign officials. Said the allegations were
“pure insanity” and “patently absurd.” /42
On Jan. 2, Rosen confronted Clark, who acknowledged he had had further conversations with president (despite previous promises he wouldn’t). Rosen said Clark was insubordinate, out of line, not honoring own representations of what he would do. /43
At the meeting, Clark confessed that the president had asked him if he was willing to serve as acting AG. Rosen had told Clark he was making colossal error in judgment. Clark said he wouldn’t take the job if Rosen and Donoghue signed the letter. /44
Rosen said he would not sign the letter under any circumstances.

Kinzinger: “thank you for that by the way.” /45
Rosen then asked for an urgent meeting with the president. He wanted to convince Trump not to go down wrong path that Clark was advocating: “Didn’t want DOJ to do things inconsistent with truth, its appropriate role, or the Constitution.” /46
Rosen also called White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who said he’d be present. Rosen also asked Engel to be present. Herschmann also said he’d be there and supportive. Rosen then asked Donoghue to inform the senior leadership at DOJ of the circumstances. /47
Prior to the Oval Office meeting on Sunday, Jan. 3, Donoghue organized call with the senior leadership. He asked the assistant attorneys general what they would do in the event of leadership. “If you have an answer, I need it in the next few minutes.” /48
All AAGs “immediately said they would leave en masse.”

“Incredible”-Kinzinger (who’s spontaneous commentary is amusing and human in my humble opinion). /49
Donoghue clarified that he asked the AAG of national security to stay in place because “national security is too important. I didn’t want to give the impression he wasn’t willing to resign.”/50
Editorial note: I question whether some or all of this should have been made public, but I am deeply grateful that there are public servants who take their jobs, their oaths, and the nation's security so seriously. /51
By 4:19 PM WH call logs had begun referring to Clark as acting DOJ. Two hours later, leadership arrived at the WH. Trump began the meeting by saying to Rosen, “we know you won’t do anything.” /52
Rosen agreed that he wouldn’t let DOJ do anything to overturn election because it’s not consistent with the law and the constitution. “It’s the right thing for the country and the right thing for you” he said to the president. /53
The meeting lasted 2.5 hours and focused on whether the president should remove Rosen and replace him with Clark. Everyone present understood the GA letter would go out if that was the case. They discussed whether Clark was qualified. /54
Donoghue: “Would you even know how to get to Chris Wray’s office? (the Head of FBI) Would Wray even know who you are? Do you really think the FBI will just suddenly start following your orders?” /55
Donoghue said Clark wasn’t competent to be AG. Clark replied that he had done environmental appeals, etc. Donoghue: “that’s right, you’re an environmental lawyer, why don’t you go back to your office and we’ll call you when there’s been an oil spill.” /56
Trump asked what he had to lose. Donoghue explained he had a great deal to lose, what the department had to lose, what the country had to lose. The president said, “Suppose I replace Rosen with Clark, what would you do?” /57
Donoghue said “I would resign immediately. I wouldn’t work one minute for this guy.” Engel: “Mr. President, I’ve been with you through 4 AGs, I couldn’t be a part of this…the entire leadership will be gone, Clark will be leading a graveyard.” /58
Donoghue confirmed that within 72 hours there would be hundreds of resignations. Cipollone referred to the deal as a “murder-suicide pact.” Donoghue asked, “what will that say about you, Mr. President?” /59
The committee also asked Mr. Clark many of the same questions posed to witnesses today. They showed the clips. He asserted his 5th amendment rights 125 times. He also asserted executive privilege (which I believe only the president can do). /60
On Jan. 6, Rosen coordinated the DOJ response to the violence and Donoghue went to the Capitol to brief the VP. Both spoke to countless senior level officials. Neither spoke to the president. /61
Kinzinger: “My colleagues and I also take an oath, some of them failed theirs and chose to spread the Big Lie.” Days after Jan. 6, some Republican congressmen requested pardons: Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Louis Gohmert, Scott Perry, Marjorie Taylor Green. /62
Kinzinger: “The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime.” /63
Closing statement: DOJ lawyers aren’t the president’s personal lawyers. They are not supposed to defend president’s personal interests, but the country’s best interests. /64
Trump didn’t care what DOJ investigations proved. What good are facts if they only prove he lost. Facts were irrelevant to president trump. All he cared about was protecting his very real power and very fragile ego. /65
He was willing to sacrifice our republic to prolong his presidency. There is no more dishonorable act by a president. /66
Cheney closed by quoting my main man, John Adams: “whether our will continue to be a government of laws and not of men, will be for the American people to decide.” /67
She spoke directly to fellow Republicans: “It can be difficult to accept that President Trump abused your trust, that he deceived you. Many will affect excuses to ignore that fact. I wish it were not true, but it is.” /fin

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