The January 6th Committee opened its fifth hearing by focusing on Donald Trump’s effort to influence the Justice Department to support his claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and stolen from him.
“He wanted the Justice Department to legitimize his lies, to basically call the election corrupt,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chairman of the committee. He said that Trump was engaged in a “brazen attempt” to get the DOJ to support his claims.
Among those in attendance at the hearing: Actor Sean Penn, who was sitting in the first row next to Michael Fanone, the former Metropolitan Police department officer who was injured in the attack on the Capitol.
The witnesses were scheduled to be Jeffrey Rosen, who served as acting attorney general; Richard Donoghue, who was acting deputy attorney general; and Steven Engel, former assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel.
This will be the committee’s final hearing before a break, with plans to resume in July after a congressional recess. Committee members said that new evidence was still coming in, including footage from a documentary on Trump that will be shown this summer on Discovery+.
The hearing came on the same day that federal agents reportedly searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, who was a top Justice Department official who was part of an effort to delay or overturn the electoral vote results. Previous testimony in the hearing showed that other DOJ officials threatened to resign if Trump installed Clark as the new attorney general.
Clark had written a draft letter, to be sent to the Georgia legislature for the purpose of approving a new slate of electors, having agreed to assist the president in his effort. The committee played video in which DOJ officials resisted Clark’s attempts, which included him ousting Rosen as acting attorney general just days before the counting of electoral votes on January 6. Among other things, they told Clark that his expertise was in environmental law, not election or Constitutional law.
Trump appointed Rosen as acting attorney general after the resignation of William Barr, who had told the president that his claims of election fraud were baseless.