This one will focus on Trump's attempt to influence the Department of Justice.
Unless something pops up at work, I think I should be able to watch this one straight through.
Also, it looks like the remaining hearings after today will be delayed because the committee has received a lot of evidence since the hearings started. That includes a videographer who had access to the Trump family for a documentary before and after January 6th. The committee just got all of his videos, and there is a report going on that Ivanka Trump may have lied during her deposition where she said she accepted Bill Barr's conclusion about the lack of evidence supporting Trump's election fraud claims.
A key focus of today's hearing is a draft letter that our witnesses here today refused to sign. This letter was written by Mr. Jeff Clark with another Department of Justice lawyer, Ken Kukowski(sp?). This letter was to be sent to the leadership of the Georgia state legislature. Other versions of the letter were intended for other states. Neither Mr. Clark nor Mr. Kukowski had any evidence of widespread election fraud. But they were quite aware of what Mr. Trump wanted the department to do. Jeff Clark met privately with President Trump and others in the White House and agreed to assist the president without telling the senior leadership of the department who oversaw him. As you will see, this letter claims that the US DoJ's investigations "have identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states, including the State of Georgia." In fact, Donald Trump knew this was a lie. The DoJ had already informed the President of the US repeatedly that its investigations had found no fraud sufficient to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The letter also said this: "In light of these developments, the Department recommnds that the Georgia General Assembly shoudl convene in special session... and consider approving a new slate of electors." And it indicates that a separate fake slate of electors supporting Donald Trump had already been transmitted to Washington, DC.
Barr on why he authorized the DoJ to investigate the Trump's fraud claims instead of following the normal process after January 6th: I felt it was the responsible thing to do to be in a position to have a view as to whether there was fraud. And frankly, I think the fact that I put myself in a position that I could say that we had looked at this and didn't think there was fraud was really important to move things forward. I shudder to think what the situation would have been if the position of the DoJ was that we're not even looking at this until Biden is in office. I'm not sure we would have had a transition at all.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger's (R-IL) personal story: In May of 2009, I returned from service in Iraq and I announced my intention to run for Congress. The reason I decided to run for Congress was my motivation to ensure freedom and democracy were defended overseas. I remember making a commitment out loud a few times and in my heart repeatedly, even to today, that: If we are going to ask Americans to be willing to die in service to our country, we as leaders must at least be willing to sacrifice our political careers when integrity and our oath requires it. After all, losing a job is nothing compared to losing your life.
Eric Herschmann on Jeff Clark's plan to overturn the election:
And when he finished discussing what he planned on doing, I said, "You fucking... excuse me, sorry... effing a-hole... congratulations, you just admitted your first step or act you'd take as attorney general would be committing a felony and violating rule 6-8(?). You're clearly the right candidate for this job.
On the meeting between Trump and top DoJ officials in the oval office:
The emeting took about another two and a half hours from the time I entered. It was entirely focused on whether there should be a DoJ leadership change. I was sitting directly in front of the president. Jeff Rosen was to my right. Jeff Clark was to my left.
He (Trump) looked at me and underscored, "well, the one thing we know is you're not gonna do anything. You don't even agree that the concerns that are being presented are valid. And here's someone who has a different view. So, why shouldn't I do that?" That's how the discussion then proceeded.
Back to Herschmann on video recording:
Jeff Clark was proposing that Jeff Rosen be replaced by Jeff Clark. and I thought the proposal was asinine.
Richard Donoghue, recorded interview:
Q: What were Clark's purported bases for why it was in the President's interest for him to step in? What would he do, how would things change, according to Mr. Clark in the meeting?
A: He repeatedly said to the president that if he was put in the seat, he would conduct real investigations that would, in his view, uncover widespread fraud. he would send out the letter that he had drafted and that this was the last opportunity to sort of set things straight with this defective election. And that he could do it and he had the intelligence and the will and the desire to pursue these matters in the way that the president thought most appropriate.
Back to Herschmann's video:
And he was making a pitch and every time he would get clobbered over the head, he would like say like... "Call to order, Mr. President, it's your decision, you get the chance to make this decision. You've heard everybody, you can make your determination." And then we'd jump back in and... you know... really clobber him.
Richard Donoghue, recorded interview:
I made the point that Jeff Clark is not even competent to serve as attorney general. He's never been a criminal attorney. He's never conducted a criminal investigation in his life. He's never been in front of a grand jury, much less a trial jury. and he kinda retorted by saying, "Well, I've done a lot of very complicated appeals and civil litigation, environmental litigation, and things like that." And I said, "That's right, you're an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office and we'll call you when there's an oil spill." And Pat Cipollone weighed in at one point. I remember saying, you know, "That letter that this guy wants to send, that letter is a murder-suicide pact. It's gonna damage everyone who touches it. We should have nothing to do with that leter. I don't ever want to see that letter again. And so we went along those lines.
Back to Herschmann's video:
I thought Jeff's proposal... Clark's proposal was... nuts. I mean, this guy... at a certain point... Listen, the best thing I can tell, is that the only thing he knows about environmental and elections challenges is that they both start with E. And based on your answer tonight, I'm not even sure if he knows that.
Q: Mr. Rosen, after Mr. Barr announced his resignation, did Donald Trump continue to demand that the DoJ investigate his claims of election fraud?
A: Yes, he asserted that he thought the DoJ had not done enough.
Q: From the time you took over from Attorney General Barr until January 3rd, how often did President Trump contact you or the department to push allegations of election fraud?
A: So between December 23rd and January 3rd, the president either called me or met with me virtually every day with 1 or 2 exceptions like Christmas day. And before that, because I had announced that I would become AG before the date I actually did, the president asked that Rich Donoghue and I go over and meet with him on December 15th as well.
Q: So after you had some of these meetings and conversations with the president, what things did the president raise with you?
A: So the common element of all of this was the president expressing his dissatisfaction that the DoJ, in his view, had not done enough to investigate election fraud. But at different junctures, different topics came up at different intervals. At one point, he had raised the question of having a special counsel for election fraud. At a number of points, he raised requests that I met with his campaign counsel, Mr. Giuliani. At one point, he raised whether the DoJ would file a lawsuit in the Supreme Court. At a couple junctures, there were (??) about making public statements or about holding a press conference. At one of the later junctures, was this issue was sending a letter to state legislatures in Georgia or other states. So there were different things raised at different intervals, with the common theme being his dissatisfaction of what the DoJ had done to investigate election fraud. I will say that the DoJ declined all of those requests that I was just referencing because I did not think they were appropriate based on the facts and the law as we understood them.
Chairman Thompson asking questions to Richard Donoghue:
Q: On December 15th, the dy after AG Barr announced his resignation, the president summoned you and Mr. Rosen to the White House. At this meeting with the president, what did he want to discuss?
A: There were a number of topics of discussion that day, Mr. Chairman. Much of the conversation focused on a report that had been recently released relating to Antrim County, Michigan. I believe on December 13th, an organization called the Allied Security Group issued a report that alleged that the Dominion voting machines in that county had a 68% error rate. The report was widely covered in the media. We were aware of it. We obtained a copy of it on the 14th of December, the day prior. We circulated it to US attorneys in Michigan for their awareness. We had a number of discussions internally. The conversation with the president on that day, the 15th, was largely focused on that. He was essentially saying, "Have you seen this report?" He was adamant that the report was accurate, that it proved the election was defected, that he in fact won the election, and that the DoJ should be usiong tath report to basically tell the American people that the results were not trustworthy. He went on with other theories as well, but the bulk of that conversation on December 15th focused on Antrim Country, Michigan, and the ASG (he pronounced it ASOG, not sure why) report.
Q: We know that AG Barr announced on December 1st, 2020 that the DoJ had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the outcome of the election. So, from December 1st until today as you sit here, have you ever doubted that topline conclusion?
A: No, I've never had any reason to doubt AG Barr's conclusion.
I'm done with my meetings for today, so I'll try to get through the rest.
A video is shown of rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) echoing Trump's election fraud claims. * Just a friendly reminder that this guy is dumb as a box of rocks. He literally asked if there was a way we could alter the moon's orbit around the earth to help with climate change.
have we tried nuking the moon?
I could see you, but I couldn't hear you You were holding your hat in the breeze Turning away from me In this moment you were stolen...
Q: Mr. Donoghue, on December 27th, you had a 90 minute conversation with tie president where he raised false claim after false claim with you and Mr. Rosen. How did you respond to what you called a "stream of allegations?"
A: The December 27th conversation was, in my mind, an escalation of the earlier conversations as the former acting AG had indicated. There were a lot of communications that preceeded that. As we got later in the month of December, the president's entreaties became more urgent and more adamant that we weren't doing our job. He had this arsenal of allegations that he wanted to rely on. So I felt in that conversation that it was incumbent on me to make it very clear to the president what our investigations had revealed. And that we had concluded based on actual investigations, actual witness interviews, actual reviews of documents, that these allegations simply had no merit. I wanted to try to cut through the noise because it's clear to us that there were a lot of people whispering in his ear feeding him these conspiracy theories and allegations. I felt that being very blunt in that conversation might help make it clear to the president these allegations were simply not true. So as he went through them and what to me was a 90 minute conversation or so, to the former acting AG was a 2 hour conversation, as the president went through them, I went piece by piece to say "No, that is false. That is not true." And to correct him, really in serial fashion as he moved from one theory to another.
Q: Can you give me an example of one or two of those theories?
A: One that was very clear at that point was the Antrim County ASOG report that I mentioned earlier. Allied Security Operations Group (thus ASOG) released a report that said 68% error rate. There was, in fact, in Antrim County, a hand recount. Had nothing to do with the DoJ. The DoJ did not request that. That was pursuant to litigation brought by other parties, but there was a hand recount. So they were able to compare the hand recount to what the machines had reported. For the ballots that were actually counted by machine, more than 15,000, there was one error. One ballot. I did a quick calculation and came up with a .0063% error rate, which is well within tolerance. And so, I made very clear to the president, because he was so fixated on the ASOG report in the December 15th conversation, that, in fact, our investigation revealed that the error rate was .0063%. So that is a present example of what people are telling you is not true. And that you cannot and should not be relying on...
(God damn at this wild falsehood. Maybe someone involved in the initial report doesn't know how to calculate percentages and saw ".0068%" in some documentation about the machines and said that means there's a 68% error rate? That's the only way that makes sense to me.)
A (cont'd): ... We went through a series of others. The truck driver who claimed to had moved an entire trailer of ballots from New York to Pennsylvania. That was also incorrect. We did an investigation had the FBI interview witnesses from the front end to the back end. Of that trailer's transit from New York to Pennsylvania, we looked at loading manifests, we interviewed witnesses, including of course the driver, and we knew it wasn't true. Whether the driver believed it or not, was never clear to me, but it's just not true. That was another one that I tried to educate the president on. There were a series of others, mostly in swing states of course. He wanted to talk a great deal about Georgia. The State Farm Arena video, which he believed for various reasons was, as he said it, "fraud staring at you right in the face."
Q: Were any of the allegations he brought up credible? Did you find any of them credible?
Q: So during this conversation, did you take hand written notes directly quoting the president?
A: I did, and to make it clear, AG Rosen called me on my government cell phone. He said he had been on the phone with the president for some time. The president had a lot of these allegations. I was better versed in what the DoJ had done because I had closer contact with the investigations and the AG asked me to get on the call. Of course, I agreed. I began taking notes only because at the outset, the president made an allegation I had not heard. I had heard many of things, I knew many of them were investigated. But when the president, at least when I came onto the conversation and he began speaking, he brought up an allegation I was completely unaware of. And of course that concerned us, so I simply reached out and grabbed a notepad off my wife's nightstand and grabbed a pen and I started jotting it down. That had to do with an allegation that more than 200,000 votes were certified in the state of Pennsylvania that were not actually cast. sometimes the president would say it was 205,000, sometimes he would say it was 250,000. But I had not heard this before, so I wanted to get the allegation down clearly so that we could look into it if appropriate. That's why I started taking those notes. Then as the conversation continued, I just continued to take them.
Q: As we can see on the screen, you actually quote president Trump asking, "Where's DoJ," just like we heard him say in his television interview. How did you respond to that?
A: So both the acting AG and I tried to explain to the president on this occasion and on several other occasions that the DoJ has a very important, very specific, but very limited role in these elections. States. Run. Their. Elections. We are not quality control for the states. We are obviously interested in and have a mission that relates to criminal conduct in relation to federal elections. We also have related civil rights responsibilities. So we do have an important role. But the bottom line is that if the state ran their election in such a way that it was defective, that is for the state or congress to correct. It is not for the DoJ to step in. I certainly understood the president as a layman, not understanding why the DoJ didn't have at least a civil role to step in and bring suit on behalf of the American people. We tried to explain that to him. The American people do not constitute the client of the US DoJ. The one and only client of the US DoJ is the US Government. The US Government does not have standing, as we were repeatedly told by our internal teams, by Steve Engel, by the Office of the Solicitor General. They researched it and gave us thorough clear opinions that we simply did not have standing. We tried to explain that to the president on numerous occasions.
Q: You also noted that Mr. Rosen said to Mr. Trump that the DoJ can't and won't snap its fingers to change the outcome of the election. How did the president respond to that?
A: He responded very quickly and said, "That's not what I'm asking you to do. What I'm asking you to do is just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."
My personal comments:
I really like this guy's testimony. He speaks clearly and concisely about what he's talking about. This is information that I didn't know about the DoJ's specific role as it relates to elections. I had also not considered that the DoJ's only client is the US government.
Transcription is a LOT harder to do with people like Richard Donoghue who 1) Have a lot to say and 2) Speak at a relatively quick pace.
Rep. Kinzinger's questions to Richard Donoghue, continued:
Q: The president said "Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressman." So, Mr. Donoghue, that's a direct quote from president Trump, correct?
A: That's an exact quote from the president, yes.
Q: Even though he had been told there was no evidence of fraud, the president keeps saying the DoJ was obligated to tell people that this was na illegal, corrupt election.
A: That's also an exact quote from the president, yes.
Q: Let me just be clear. Did the DoJ find any evidence to conclude that there was anything illegal or corrupt about the 2020 election?
A: There were isolated incidents of fraud. None of them came close to calling into question the outcome of the election in any individual state.
Q: And how would you describe the president's demeanor during that call?
A: He was more agitated than he was on December 15th. The president, throughout all of these meetings and telephone conversations, was adamant that he had won and that we were not doing our job. But, it did escalate over time until ultimately the meeting on January 3rd, which was the most extreme of the conversations.
Rep. Kinzinger: I want to make sure we don't gloss this over. "Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to us." The president wanted the top DoJ officials to declare that the election was corrupt. Even though he knew there was absolutely no evidence to support that statement. The president didn't care about actually investigating the facts. he just wanted the DoJ to put a stamp of approval on the lies. Who was going to help him? Jeff Clark.
Q: On Christmas Eve, your first official day as the acting AG, president Trump called you. What did he want to talk about?
A: The same things he was talking about publicly. He wanted to talk about that he thought the election had been stolen or was corrupt, and that there was widespread fraud. I told him that our reviews had not shown that to be the case. So, we had an extended discussion. Probably 15 - 20 minutes, something like that, with him urging that the DoJ should be doing more with regard to election fraud.
Q: Did he mention Jeff Clark's name?
A: Yes. It was just in passing. He made what I regarded as a peculiar reference. I don't remember the exact quote, but it was something about, "Did I know Jeff Clark," or, "Did I know who he was," or something like that. I told him I did. Then the conversation just moved on. When I hung up, I was quizzical as to, how does the president even know Mr. Clark? I was not aware that they had ever met, or that the president had been involved with any issues in the civil division.
Q: It was a bit of a surprise when he brought his name up?
Q: So Mr. Clark was the acting head of the civil division and head of environmental and natural resources division within the DoJ. Do either of those divisions have any role in investigating election fraud, sir?
A: No. And to my awareness, Jeff Clark had had no prior involvement of any kind in regard to the work that the DoJ was doing that AG Barr has talked about to this committee.
Kinzinger (continued): Records from the national archives show that Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) was one who joined that meeting. We learned from White House records that the very next day, Rep. Perry returned to the White House with Jeffery Clark.
Rep. Perry basically introduced Jeff Clark to Trump.
A video of Rudy Giuliani's deposition:
Q: Do you remember recommending to anybody that Mr. Clark, meaning Jeffrey Clark at DoJ, be given election-related responsibilities?
A: You mean beyond the president?
A: Beyond the president, I do recall saying to people that somebody should be put in charge of the DoJ who isn't frightened of what's gonna be done to their reputation. Because the DoJ was filled with people like that.