tv Deadline White House MSNBC June 23, 2022 1:00pm-3:00pm PDT
that was certified by the secretary of state and the 5 million that was on a public safety website was that the information on the website was incomplete because four counties had not uploaded their data. >> notability. >> there was zero to that.? during that call, did scott perry mention mr. clark and what did he say about him? >> he did. he mentioned mr. clark. he says something to the effect of i think jeff clark is great and i think he is the kind of guy to get in there and do something about this stuff. this was coming on the heels of the president having mentioned mr. clark in the afternoon call earlier that day. >> i would like to yield to the gentlewoman from wyoming. >> thank you very much. i think the gentleman for yielding. as we discussed earlier, at the center of mr. clark's plan to undo president trump's
selection loss, was a letter. mr. donahue, on december 28th, mr. clark emailed you and mr. rosen a draft letter that he wanted you to sign and send to georgia state officials. you testified that this could have grave constitutional consequences. can you tell us what you meant by that? >> i had to read both emails in the attached letter twice to make sure i really understood what he was proposing. it was so extreme to me, i had a hard time getting my head around it. i read it and i did understand it for what he intended. and i had to sit down and serve , compose what that was an appropriate response. i went next door to the acting ig's office. he was not there. we both had an email. he was not in his offers. i returned my office. .
this is not the departments role. to suggest or dictate to state legislatures how they should select their electors. but, more importantly, this was not based on fact. this is actually contrary to the facts, as developed by the department investigations over the last several weeks and months. so, i responded to that. for the department inserted self into the political process this way, i think, would have had great consequences for the country. it may very well have smiled us into a constitutional crisis. and i wanted to make sure he understood the gravity of the situation. he didn't seem to really appreciate it >> what was mr. clark's reaction? >> he didn't respond directly to the email. we met shortly after that. the acting ag returned. i went to his office.
he had just read it. he had a very similar reaction to me. he was exasperated and told me that he told one of his administrator assistance to get jeff clark up here. he wanted to talk to him face- to-face about this. so come the three of us had a meeting. probably around 1800 that night in the deputy attorney general's conference room. >> one of the things you said to mr. clark is quote what you are doing is nothing less than the united states justice department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election. and i assume you convey that to him as well in your meeting? >> yes. in those very words. it was a very contentious meeting. yes. that was set amongst the whole thing. >> despite this contentious meeting, your strong reaction to the letter, did mr. clark continue to push his concept in the coming days? >> he did. yes. we had subsequent meetings and conversations. the acting ag probably had more contact with him than i did., between the
28th and the second, when we had another in person meeting emma he clearly continued to move down this path. he began calling witnesses and apparently conducting investigations of his own he got a briefing from he and i about purported foreign intelligence interference. and we thought, perhaps, once it was explained to him that there was no basis for that part of his concern that he would retreat. but, instead he doubled down and said okay, so there is no foreign interference no foreign interference >> we learned that he had been calling witnesses and conducting investigations on his own, did you confront him? >> yes or >> what was his reaction? >> he got very defensive.
you know, as i said, there were a series of conversation that we did i certainly remember the conversation eating on january 2nd. it got even more confrontational. but, he was defensive and similar to his early reaction, when i said this is nothing less than just department meddling in an election so, he kind of clung to that. and spewed out some of these areas. these areas. >> the committee has also learned that mr. arce was working with another attorney at the department named ken. who drafted this letter to georgia with mr. clark mr. krukowski had arrived at the department on december 15th
with just 36 days left until the inauguration. he was specifically assigned to work under jeff clark. he also worked with john eastman. who we showed you at our hearing last week was one of the primary are a president trump scheme to overturn the election. the georgia letter that we have been discussing specifically talks about some of dr. eastman's theories. in the, quote, the purpose of the special session that the mints recommends a b for the general assembly to determine whether the election held to make a proper and valid choice between the candidates. the general lesson we can take whatever action is necessary to ensure that one of electors commands on december 14th would be accepted by congress on january 6th. he has also learned the relationship between dr. eastman and mr. rakowski persisted after he joined the justice department. ned the justice department.
let's take a look at an email recommending that they briefed vice president pence and his staff. of the recipients of this email included of staff, congressman, louis. and email says as stated last week i believe the vice president and his staff would benefit greatly from a briefing by john and ken. i want to thank all eyewitnesses for being here today and answering our's. we asked mr. clark some of the same questions that we have asked you. here's how he answered. .
>> executive privilege as stated. claimant >> if you look again, i can see the draft letter in the first paragraph we are able on investigating progress. at this time, we have identified significant concern. identified significant concern. >> the chair declares the committee in recess for a period of 10 minutes. period of 10 minutes.
>> we have been watching, to get the, the fifth public hearing by the january 6th select committee. into an arm of his campaign to overturn the election results. the hearing is currently in a 10 minute recess and after that bombshell testimony, from the top 20 officials resisted within doj. an unprecedented and highly controversial campaign from inside the oval office. donald trump demanding that rosa look into all sorts of voter fraud conspiracy theories. all sorts of voter fraud conspiracy theories.
>> he was also willing to legitimize trump unfounded election lies. relaxing only when witnesses have testified today friend to refine our max. the limbic committee testimony from white house lawyer. they said he told jeffrey clark that look like plant today was a felony this broke into a few hours before this hearing today commenced that federal authorities is a jeffrey parks house the times reported it was
in connection with a federal investigation into january 6th. clark's boss and former trump administration official, russell, told nbc news this was a predawn raid that put him in the streets in his pajamas joining us now, albert, and the chief legal correspondent and host of the beat and former senator and political analyst, claire. let's get to that bombshell at the end. mrs. cheney took over the questioning and introduced new character. he seems to tie together what a federal judge described is likely felonies committed by eastman. to a clark compass. >> i think today's hearing there -- there -- it is a terrible thing. you have people above the sort of coup allies in the doj. the fact that mr. clark home is being searched tells you how seriously his old colleagues
and employers look at his conduct. it means they have a judge approved probable cause to find evidence of a crime. whether that is by him or someone else. that is standard. i can't think of another day with this much sort of exploded together on parallel tracks. >> do you think that timing is not a coincidence? do you think that this, today's hearing was supposed to take place last wednesday. they moved it in eight days. you think there was a request to do that? >> i don't think i can provide a reported commentary on that. i want to be careful. i'm curious what you think. we had seen, we can say is we definitely have the interaction between these two probes. reach a point where in paper, some of the discussion we discussed wanting evidence of the proud boy case has complaints, not about that bad faith, but just about hey, we are trying to do these prosecutions.
i'm wondering how that all fits in. whatever the reasoning of the timing. the blockbuster news is that we are seeing more government officials and trump releases for the criminal side of the probe. the probe. >> i think the power of this testimony is that it was given to the senate judiciary committee months ago. a lot of what mr. donahue testified to was the substance of a handwritten note from conversations with trump. certainly, if there were more of a criminal investigations underway, some of that testimony had been out there a little longer. but, it turns them into people who are also potentially witnesses in high-level criminal investigations of an ex-doj official.? i think a couple of things that are important to point out here, first, i always cringe a little bit when we use the word raid. that implies that this is some kind of, you know, unlawful attempt to attack someone in their home.
a judge had to say that there was probable cause. there was evidence of a crime in that location. that is a high bar. particularly when you're dealing with people that are public figures. judges are very careful to make sure that they are not getting caught up in some kind of political nonsense. so, that is the first point. the second point is this character. i have never heard his name before. now, keep in mind, when he came to the justice department. december 15th. this is over a month after trump lost the election. this clearly, i guarantee if they pulled this thread and maybe they're going to come or maybe doj will. this guy was put in there at the request of eastman and trump and giuliani to do what needed to be done with his -- under justice clark to try to take over the justice department. in furtherance of this coup. >> let me read that part you're talking point about.
this is the jet testimony. she says this of human moment ago. the select committee also learned that a lawyer named ken drafted this georgia letter with mr. clark. he had parachuted into the department of justice on december 15th with only 36 days left until inauguration. in a mere 2.5 weeks until the january 3rd showdown. he was specifically assigned to work under jeffrey clark. he also worked with john eastman. who we showed you in our hearing last week. it was one of the primary architects when he came to overturn the election. again, there are no coincidences in this new bizarre world in which we live. eastman was parachuting into the justice department at a time of this mega clash of the titans in the doj leadership. >> that is so important because the narrative around the insurrection was an outside job. an attack on the capitol. and there was that. but, the inside job is harder to see in real time.
and this committee is meticulously pulling the information you're getting the testimony. and finding all these efforts of an inside job that donald trump on down was trying to install these people in these places with more than one way to see the chaos to create the question that maybe it wasn't certified or denied eared the other thing we also saw, we heard the fifth invoked a lot by eastman. we have heard over 100 times. eastman, you can say, we know what happens the trump lawyers. some go to jail. like michael cullen. somehow there license. somehow there license. or end up in barrette. here, with mr. clark as the doj official, now he has that right. that right. there is a journalistic process here.
he said it might be privileged. it can't be both. if it is a crime it is not privileged. that is what the fifth is for. not incriminating himself of a crime. it is some pretty shoddy lawyering. >> shoddy lawyering. looks like the community is making their way back in. i do want to read this news story. a federal investigator carried out a predawn search on wednesday at the home of jeffrey clark. that was the news we were digesting before the start. >> yeah. and the other piece of the character, can't even say his name. is that they went on to point out that he was being asked to brief pens. so, with john eastman. they now, what you're seeing here is a circling of the line between john eastman, the trump campaign, the oval office, and the department of justice. all trying to pressure pens to do something that was wildly unconstitutional and inappropriate. >> and illegal.
with pickens that they have already proven that there is knowledge inside the west wing, including the oval office, that the eastman plot was not legal. we now know these flat doj coup lot. it seems they were one and the same as they get ready to walk i want to tell our viewers a little bit of what. he had analyzing about clark and they are expected to name names? >> are telling on themselves that, it shows that people obviously, they went beyond sizing their vote you know, claire knows all kinds of stuff that is an option >> i did did >> say the most fair reading of their ample opportunity to add of the congress to vote for and against and say or do that is a
lot of wanted to be on a partner because they thought they may have been outlined again tells us something about the of my the of my i mentioned those early days. it was you was they were already, then saying i might want to know what i did. >> the committee has a record when they on this topic in her opening statement. about an hour ago there is always more where that they had the letter the allegation of a surveillance for nvidia back in their pocket. i r fice today
are fraudulently giving information to the voters in america. oters in america. there is still not one bit of evidence that has ever been presented. any credible evidence that has been investigated and found to be true. none. to be true. none. >> the idea that these guys were out there blowing it up and saying and continuing to say it today. >> it is willful ignorance. is that a crime? >> it is not a crime. but, if the were helping with the cross electors and they knew that they were fraudulent and they knew there was no basis for there to be a collectors, that is a state of mind issue for the prosecutors. but, if i were them, with this character and bar, and him and clark and eastman, i hope they
all have really good lawyers. clearly, they aren't very good lawyers. >> they will need them. we will be listening to the committee about to get underway. let's listen to the chairman as he gavels in. the mac the mac >> the committee will be in order. the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois. gentleman from illinois. >> thank you, mr. chairman. around the time mr. clark was pushing for the department in the georgia letter, the president and his supporters were pressuring the justice department to take other action to change the outcome of the 2020 election. mr. engel, you were the head of the office of legal counsel. can you explain your role? what is that? >> sure.
one of the attorney general's most important responsibilities is to provide legal advice to the president and the executive branch. as a practical matter, given the response abilities of the root attorney general, the assistant attorney general with the office of legal counsel exercises that job on a day-to- day basis. so, in addition, the head of olc often functions as a general counsel to the attorney general. and so, is often the chief legal advisor to the ag as well as the white house and the executive branch, more broadly. >> given that role, can you kind of describe your relationship with the president? >> well, i, you know, in connection with my role at olc, over the course of my tenure there, there were a number of answers which folks at the white house with particular bring me and provide legal advice to the president. sometimes, discussing the legal options that could be pursued among various policies and to reach various policy objectives. sometimes, to advise the
president that a course of action that they have been discussing was not legally available. >> i want to ask about two things the president asked you in the department to do. the first is reflected in this email that we will put on screen . the president sent a draft lawsuit to be filed by the department and the supreme court. he wanted you and mr. sue pallone, specifically, to review. you and the department opposed filing it. we see on the screen here the talking points the left actually drafted on that. you say that there isn't a legal basis to bring this lawsuit. anyone who thinks otherwise is simply doesn't know the law, much less supreme court. why was this the department's position? >> the memo, speaks to this. but, essentially, this was a draft lawsuit that apparently was prepared by people outside the department. we would be styled as brought by the united states and by the acting solicitor general as an
original jurisdiction matter in the supreme court heard it was a meritless lawsuit that was not something that the department could or would bring . you know, somebody obviously prepared it and handed it to the president and he forwarded it on to our review. that memo explains why the department of justice says mr. donahue said earlier it doesn't have any standing to bring such a lawsuit. the lawsuit would have been untimely. the state had chosen their electors the electors have been certified. they kept their votes they had been sent to washington, d.c. is not that george or the other states on december 28 or whatever this was, was in a position to change those votes. essentially, the election had happened. the only thing that hadn't happened was the formal counting of the votes. so, beasley, the person who drafted the lawsuit didn't really understand, in my view, the law. and for how the supreme court works for the department of justice. so, it was just not something we were going to do. the attorney general asked me to
prepare a memo with talking points so that he could explain our reasons when he spoke with the president about this. >> would you say it was an unusual request? >> the request that the department file a lawsuit from lawyers was certainly an unusual request. >> there was another issue you are asking to look into. in december, to the white house ask the attorney to consider whether a special counsel could be a turning could be appointed? >> yes. i think the president was probably vocal at the time that he believed that the special counsel is something that should be considered to look into election fraud. there is a specific, you know, request where the attorney general's hotline legal advice in the middle of december. >> what was your conclusion? >> this request was whether the attorney general could appoint as a special counsel as a state attorney general to conduct an investigation. as a legal matter, and their federal law, the attorney
general has fairly wide discretion to delegate prosecutorial authority. including to state prosecutors, which happens to assist the department. you know, and not uncommonly, beasley, a state attorney general exercising prosecutorial authority on behalf of the department of justice would be fairly uncommon. when we look at issue, what we saw is the state law. the state was louisiana. the state law precluded the louisiana attorney general from accepting a position. any official position on behalf of the united government. so that answers the question that was not legally available. >> during your time of the department, was there any basis to a point of special counsel to investigate presidential election fraud claims? >> no. not as the acting attorney general appointed special counsel. he would appoint a special counsel when the department, when there is a basis for an investigation of the department essentially has a conflict of interest. it is important to get someone who is independent and outside the department to
handle such an investigation. it is neither attorney general barn or acting attorney general rosie i ever believe that was appropriate or necessary in this case. >> bar had already told the president that there was no need for the special counsel. he actually stated that publicly and we will see that here in a video from december 20 first. >> to the extent that there is an investigation, i think is being handled responsibly and professionally. currently, within the department at this point, i have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel. i have no plan to do so before i leave. >> remember the december 21st was the same data president trump met with republican members at the white house. to strategize about how to overturn the election while his attorney general is out telling the public, again, that there was no widespread evidence of election fraud. yet, days later, we have president trump tweeting, again publicly, pressuring the department to appoint a special
counsel. he said after seeing the massive voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, i disagree with anyone that thinks a strong, fast, and fair special counsel is not needed immediately. this was the most corrupt election in the history of our country. it must be examined. the select committee investigation reveal went as far as to promise the job of special also to discredit the former trump campaign lawyer sidney powell at a late-night meeting on december 18th. >> on friday, he had asked me to be a special counsel to address the election issues. and to collect evidence and he was extremely frustrated with the lack of law enforcement by
any of the government agencies that are supposed to act to protect the rule of law in our republic. >> let's figure what would a special counsel do with only days to go until election certification? it wasn't investigate anything. an investigation led by a special counsel would just create an illusion of legitimacy and provide a fake cover for those who would want to object. including those who stormed the capitol on january 6th. all of president trumps plans for the justice department were being rebuffed by mr. rosen. claimant president trump rushed back early from mar-a-lago on december 21st and called an emergency meeting with the department leadership. here is mr. donahue describing the last-minute meeting held at the white house on new year's eve. ear's eve.
>> the president was a little more agitated than he had been on the meeting in the meeting on the 15th he discussed the variety of election matters. he did say this sounds like the kind of thing that we want to appoint a special counsel. there was a point at which the president said something about i'm glad you guys sees the machine. >> the president asked you to seize voting machines from state governments. what was your response that request? >> we had seen nothing improper with regard to the voting machines i told them that the real experts had been that she dhs and they had reached us that they had looked at it and that there was nothing wrong with the voting machines so, that
was not something that is appropriate to do. they would be no factual basis to seize machines. >> i don't there was legal authority either. >> can you explain what the president did after he was told that the justice department would not seize voting machines? >> he was very agitated. and to the extent that machines and the technology was being discussed, the acting attorney general said that dhs has expertise in machines. and certifying them and making sure that states are operating improperly. since dhs had been mentioned, the president yelled out the secretary get ken kitchen ellie on the phone. and she did in very short order. mr. critchley was on the phone.
he was on speakerphone. the president said i am sitting here with the acting attorney general. he told me is your job to seize machines and is you not doing your job. he responded. >> did you ever tell the president that the department of homeland security could seize voting machines? >> no. certainly not. >> during the meeting, did the president tell you that he would remove you and mr. rosen because you weren't declaring there was election fraud? >> toward the end of the meeting, the president, again, was getting very agitated. he said people tell me i should just get rid of votes, both of you. i just remove you and make a change in leadership. put jeff clark in. maybe something will finally get done. i responded, as earlier in the call, you should have the leadership that you want. but understand, united dates
justice department functions on facts, evidence, and law. those are not going to change. you can have whatever leadership you want. but the department's position is not going to change. >> the president white house counsel was also present. do you remember what his position was? >> pat was very supportive throughout these conversations. externally supportive of the justice department. he was consistent. he always sided with the justice department. >> it was new year's eve. president trump, talking about seizing voting machines and making the same demands that have already been shut down by the former attorney general on at least three occasions. and by mr. rosen and donnie you on multiple other occasions. claim after claim not down. but, the president didn't care. the next day, the chief of staff sent a flurry of emails to you, mr. rosen.
asking if the department look into a new set of allegations. we will put those emails here on the ring. >> here we see three requests made on january 1st. one email is a request to mr. rosen to send jeff clark to fulton county. what did you do with this request? >> well, really, nothing. certainly didn't send mr. clark county. but, that email was the first corroboration i had seen of mr. clark had told me at that point that the president was considering making the change by monday. january 4th. so, mr. meadows email was something of a corroboration. there were discussions going on that had been not informed about by mr. clark or anybody else. >> instinctive the second request that you have at the department of justice lawyers investigate allegations of fraud related to new mexico.
mr. rosen, did you have concern about these emails? >> yes. really, two concerns about that one. first was that it was coming from a campaign or political party. it was really not our role to function as, you know, an arm of any campaign for any party or any campaign. that was in our role. that is part of why i have been unwilling to meet with mr. giuliani or any of the campaign people before. the other part was it was another one of these ones where lots of work had already been done. i thought it was a rehash of things that had been debunked previously. >> the final email here included a completely baseless conspiracy read that an italian defense contractor uploaded software to a satellite that switched votes from trump to biden. the select committee investigation found that this wild, baseless conspiracy theory
made it from the recesses of the internet to the highest echelons of our government. on december 31st, mr. meadows received this internet conspiracy theory from representative harry. on the screen now is a text to representative harry copying a youtube link with the message why can't we just work with the italian government? the next day, the chief of staff sent a youtube link to mr. rosen who forwarded it to mr. donahue. did you watch this video? >> i did >> how long is the video? >> 20 minutes. >> let's take a look at an expert excerpt of that video if we may. video if we may. >> what has been said is that this was done in the u.s. embassy. there was a certain state department guy who, whose name i don't know, yet.
this is probably going to come out in italy at some point. and he was the mastermind, not the mastermind, but the, any rate, the guy running the operation. he was doing this in conjunction with some support from my sick. the cia. and this leonardo group. >> mr. donahue, what was your reaction when you want that entire 20 minute video? >> i emailed the acting attorney general and i said. and stanley. my impression of the video which was patently absurd absurd. >> you were asked by mr. meadows to meet with mr. johnson who is the person in that video. what was your reaction to that request? >> so, ordinarily, i get an email like this and there was no phone call. i just come over to trance them.
this one, he called me. mr. meadows. and asked me to meet with mr. johnson. i told him this whole thing about italy has been debunked. and that should be the end of that. i certainly wasn't going to meet with this person. initially, he seemed to accept that. he said, you know, why won't you meet with him. i said because he has real evidence that this video doesn't show. he can walk into a field office anywhere in dates. he said okay. then he called me back a few minutes later and complained. he said i didn't tell you but this fellow johnson is working with rudy giuliani. and mr. giuliani is really offended that you say have to go to an fbi field office. that is insulting. couldn't you just have the eir you meet with these guys? and by then, i was somewhat agitated . and told him that there was
no way on earth. i was going to meet with mr. johnson. i wasn't going to meet with mr. giuliani i made that clear repeatedly. that is the end of that. don't raise this with me again. so, because mr. donahue and i had the next ranging our views about this, it was 7:13 on a friday night of new year's day. i said, sent the email that you are talking about. i made pretty clear that i had no interest in doing anything further with this. >> just buttoned this up, did you receive a follow-up call from the department of defense special about this conspiracy? >> i did. i believe it was the same day.? can you give details on that at all? >> i received a telephone call from a dod official at the time.
he worked for the acting secretary of defense miller. he didn't know much about it. he basically said do you know anything about this italy thing? and what this is all about. i informed him that the chief of staff had raised the issue of us in his office on december 29th. that we had looked into it a little bit. we had rung the name that was provided to us by the chief of staff. i learned that the individual was in custody in italy. he had been arrested for a cyber offense of some sort in italy. the allegation was that he had been exfiltration data from his company. he was in custody. that whole thing was very, very murky at best. the video was absurd. but, we at the department were not going to have anything to do with it. the dod should make up their mind for what they were going to do. i made it clear to him that i didn't think it was anything worth pursuing. >> he called the video absurd.
despite the absurdity, we wanted to discuss it frequently in the white house. esther meadows didn't let the matter go. the request went from the department of justice to the secretary of defense, christopher miller. as you will hear, secretary miller actually reached out to a high-ranking official based in italy. to follow-up on the claim. >> can you call out the defense attachi and find out what is going on? i'm getting these weird crazy reports. the guy on the ground knows more than anything. >> what the committee confirmed a call was actually placed by the secretary miller to investigate the claims that italian satellites were switching both votes from trump to biden. this is one of the best examples of the links to which the president trump would go to stay in power. scouring the internet to support his conspiracy theories shown here as he told mr.
donahue in that december 27th call. you guys may not be following the internet the way i do. president trump's efforts to this point had failed. stonewalled by mr. rosen and donahue, president trump had only one option. he needed to make fark the acting attorney general. mr. rosen, during a meeting with mr. clark, did you confront him again about his contact with the president? can you describe that? >> so, at this point, mr. clark had told us that the president had asked him to consider whether he was willing to replace me. supposedly, a timetable by monday. so i had for mr. i also hope
rational and under for the broad assertion met with mr. clark. i guess my hopes were disappointed. and mr. clark continued to express views that he thought there was fraud. even though he had not been a participant in the department's review of that. and that he was dissatisfied with the fact that we knew what we were doing. he had acknowledged that he had had further, i don't know if it was meetings or phone calls or what, but further discussions with the president, despite having, you know, a week earlier, said that if he, a, wouldn't do that and if he did, if you had an invitation to do that, he would let you or me know. so, it was a contentious meeting where we were
chastising you as you like has not that letter go out we were never said to that >> did he tell you the president had offered him the job? >> that was a day later. on the second, he said that the president had asked him to let him know if you would be willing to take it. subsequently, he told me that, on sunday the third, he told me that the timeline had moved up and that the president had offered him a job and that he was accepting it. >> what was your reaction? >> well, on the one hand, i wasn't going to accept being fired by my subordinates. so, i wanted to talk to the president directly. with regard to the reason for that, i wanted to try to
convince the president not to go down the wrong path that mr. clark seemed to be educating. it wasn't about me. there is only 17 days left in the administration at that point. i would have been perfectly content to have either to my left or right replace me. if anybody wanted to do that. i did not want for the department of justice to be put in a posture where it would be doing things that were not consistent with the truth, not consistent with its own appropriate role, or not consistent with the constitution. so, i did four things as soon as mr. clark left my office on that sunday. number one, i called mark meadows. i said i need to see the president right away. he was agreeable and set up a meeting. for 6:15 on sunday. about two hours away. two, i called baloney. the white house counsel.
i told him what was going on. he said he would go into the white house to make sure he was at the meeting and he would be supporting the justice department's position as he had been doing consistently. three, i called steve, i was at the department. it was a sunday. there have been some reasons i needed to be there. i called him at home and asked him if you come in and go to the meeting. which he did. proved to be quite helpful. number four, i asked rich donahue and pat, who was previously my chief of staff, take it the departments senior leadership on a call and let them know what was going on. which they did then, eric called me to tell me that he was going to go to the meeting and that he would be supporting the department of justice position as well. so, i knew that the meeting was on course and that i would have a number of people supportive
of the department of justice is approach and not supportive of mr. clark's approach. >> did mr. clark ask you to continue to stay the department? >> that sunday meeting, when he told me that he would be replacing me, he said he had asked to see me alone. usually, he had met with me and mr. donahue. because he thought it would be appropriate in light of what was happening to at least offer me that i could stay on as his deputy. i thought that was preposterous. i told him that was nonsensical. there is no universe where i was going to do that. stay on and support someone else doing things that were not consistent with what i thought should be done. so, i did not accept that offer. i can put it that way. >> during that meeting, did he ask you to sign the georgia letter?
>> that was on the saturday meeting, january 2nd. mr. donahue and i had with him. he, again, raised to both of us that he wanted us to both sign that letter. >> did mr. clark say he would turn down the president's offer if he reversed your position and signed the letter? >> yes. >> did mr. clark, you still refused to sign that ticket. >> that's right. i think mr. donahue and i were both very consistent that there was no way we were going to sign the letter. it didn't matter what mr. clark's, you know, proposition was in terms of his own activities. we were not going to sign that letter as long as we were in charge of the justice department. >> thank you for that, by the way. mr. donahue, were you expecting to have to attend the meeting at the white house on sunday,
january 3rd? >> no. as he indicated, we had a meeting that afternoon that related to preparations for january 6th. i was at the department. i had no the department. it was a sunday afternoon. i was there in civilian clothes. i expected to have that meeting. have that meeting. i had no expectation of going to the white house. >> prior to the oval office meeting, did you set up a conference call with senior leadership at the department. if so, tell us about that call. >> yes. obviously, we scrambled that afternoon to prepare for the oval office meeting. we had discussed on several occasions the acting attorney general and i, whether we should expand the circle of people who knew what was going on. it was very important that steve knows and that's why we said to him on december 28, if mr. rosen were removed from the seat and the president did not immediately point someone else to serve as attorney general,
despite function of the departments chain of succession, mr. engel would be in the seat. we wanted to make sure he knew what was going on sure that be. the three of us knew. we also brought mckinney in. so, the four of us knew. but, no one else other afternoon.e else other we chose to keep a close hold because we didn't want to create concern or panic in the justice department leadership. but at this point, i asked the acting a.g., what else can i do to help prepare for this meeting at the oval office? and he said, you and pat should get the aags on the phone and it's time to let them know what's going on. let's find out what they may do if there's a change in leadership, because that will help inform the conversation at the oval office. pat subsequently set up that meeting. we got most, not all, but most of the aags on the phone. we very quickly explained to them what the situation was. i told them, i don't need an
answer from you right now. i don't need an answer on this phone call, but if you have an answer, i need it in the next few minutes. so, call me, email me, text me, whatever it is. if you know what you would do if jeff clark is put in charge of the department. and immediately, eric describen, the aag of the civil rights division, said, i don't need to think about it. there's no way i'm staying. and then the other aags began to chime in, in turn, and all essentially said they would leave, they would resign en masse if the president made that change in the department leadership. >> incredible. i'd like to look at the assistant attorney generals on the screen. if we can pull that up. have their pictures. did every assistant attorney general that you spoke to, as you said, agree to resign in? >> he was not on the call because we had difficulty reaching him, but yes, the other people on the screen were on the
call, and all without hesitation said that they would resign. >> so, as part of the select committee's investigation, we found that while mr. rosen, mr. donoghue, and mr. engel were preparing for their meeting at the white house, jeff clark and the president were in constant communication beginning at 7:00 a.m. white house call logs obtained by the committee show that by 4:19 p.m. on january 3rd, the white house had already begun referring to mr. clark as the acting attorney general. as far as the white house was concerned, mr. clark was already at the top of the justice department. two hours later, doj leadership arrived at the white house. the select committee interviewed every person who was inside the room -- was inside the room during this sunday evening oval office meeting. mr. cipollone told the committee that he was, quote, unmistakably angry during the meeting, and that he, long with eric her
shman and mr. donoghue, quote, forcefully challenged mr. clark to produce evidence of his election fraud theories. mr. rosen, can you describe how that meeting started? >> yes. so, after some preliminaries -- so, mr. meadows had ushered us all in, and then he left. so, mr. cipollone did some introductions, i think, so after some preliminaries, the president turned to me, and he said, well, one thing we know is you, rosen, you aren't going to do anything. you don't even agree with the claims of election fraud. and this other guy at least might do something. and then i said, well, mr. president, you're right that i'm not going to allow the justice department to do anything to try to overturn the election. that's true. but the reason for that is because that's what's consistent with the facts and the law, and that's what's required under the
constitution. so, that's the right answer and a good thing for the country, and therefore, i submit it's the right thing for you, mr. president. and that kicked off another two hours of discussion, in which everyone in the room was in one way or another making different points, but supportive of my approach for the justice department and critical of mr. clark. >> so, at some point, mr. donoghue comes in the room. can you explain what led to him coming in the room? >> oh, i forgot about that. so, initially, in part, i think, because he was underdressed, and we had not arranged -- we had not yet told the president that he was going to come in, the white house had a list of who would be there. that did include mr. engel and the white house counsel and the deputy white house counsel, mr. herschmann. we went in and told the president, maybe ten minutes
into the meeting or something, i forget how far in, that mr. donoghue was outside, and he said, well, bring him in. and then mr. donoghue came in and joined the meeting. >> so, mr. donoghue, you enter that room. can you set the scene for us and describe the tone you walked into? >> yes, but if i could just back up one moment, congressman, because you put the pictures up on the screen of the aags. one of the aags who's not on the screen was john, the national security division aag. john was on the call but i prefaced the call by saying, john, we need you to stay in place. national security is too important. we need to minimize the disruption. whether you resign is entirely up to you. obviously, we'll respect your decision either way, but i'm asking you, please stay in place. and he did. so i don't want to leave the impression that he was not willing to resign because i think he was. >> thank you for that. >> with regard to entering the oval office, i was sitting in the hallway. an administrative assistant passed by. she asked me, are you supposed to be in this meeting with the
president? i said, no, i'm simply here in case questions come up that other people don't have the answer to. and she walked away and then came back, probably 30 seconds later, and said, the president wants you in the meeting. i proceeded into the oval office. i took probably two, three steps in and i stopped because i was, as the a.g. said, not exactly properly attired. i was wearing jeans and muddy boots and an army t-shirt, and i never would arrive in the oval office this way. i said, mr. president, i apologize, i'm sorry. i didn't know i was going to be here. and he said, no, just come in. and so i went in. i attempted to take a seat on one of the couches or behind the chairs arrayed in front of the president's desk, and he said, oh, no, no, you're going to be up here. and everyone kind of laughed. and they moved the chairs a little bit. someone from the white house counsel's office picked up a spare chair and put it directly in front of the president and i
took that seat. >> was there discussion about mr. clark? can you enlighten what some of that discussion was? >> yes. so, the conversation at this point had moved beyond the specific allegations, whether it was state farm arena or antram county or pennsylvania or whatever. we had discussed those repeatedly, and the conversation -- that was backdrop to the conversation, but the conversation at this point was really about whether the president should remove jeff rosen and replace him with jeff clark. and everyone in the room, i think, understood that that meant that letter would go out. so, that was the focus. it was about a two-and-a-half-hour meeting after i entered, and so there were discussions about the pros and cons of doing that. early on, the president said, what do i have to lose? and it was actually a good opening, because i said, mr. president, you have a great deal to lose. and i began to explain to him what he had to lose. and what the country had to
lose, and what the department had to lose. and this was not in anyone's best interest. that conversation went on for some time. everyone essentially chimed in with their own thoughts, all of which were consistent about how damaging this would be to the country, to the department, to the administration, to him personally. and at some point, the conversation turned to whether jeff clark was even qualified, competent to run the justice department, which, in my mind, he clearly was not. and it was a heated conversation. i thought it was useful to point out to the president that jeff clark simply didn't have the skills, the ability, and the experience to run the department. and so, i said, mr. president, you're talking about putting a man in that seat who has never tried a criminal case, who's never conducted a criminal investigation. he's telling you that he's going to take charge of the department, 115,000 employees, including the entire fbi, and
turn the place on a dime and conduct nationwide criminal investigations that will produce results in a matter of days. it's impossible. it's absurd. it's not going to happen, and it's going to fail. he has never been in front of a trial jury, a grand jury. he's never even been to chris wray's office. i said at one point, if you walk into chris wray's office, one, would you know how to get there and two, if you go there, would he even know who you are? do you really think the fbi is going to suddenly start following your orders? it's not going to happen. he's not competent. and that's the point at which mr. clark tried to defend himself by saying, well, i have been involved in very significant civil and environmental litigation. i've argued many appeals in appellate courts and things of that nature. and then i pointed out that, yes, he was an environmental lawyer and i didn't think that was appropriate background to be running the united states justice department.
>> did anybody in there support mr. clark? >> no one. >> mr. rosen, it was you he was going to replace, so what was your view about the president's plan to appoint mr. clark? >> well, as i alluded to earlier, the issue really wasn't about me. it was -- it would have been fine, as i said, to have had rich donoghue replace me, i would have said, great, i get 17 days vacation or something. but the issue was the use of the justice department, and it's just so important that the justice department adhere to the facts and the law. that's what it's there to do. and that's what our constitutional role was, and so if the justice department gets out of the role that it's supposed to play, that's really bad for our country, and i don't know of a simpler way to say that. and when you damage our fundamental institutions, it's
not easy to repair them. so, i thought this was a really important issue to try to make sure that the justice department was able to stay on the right course. >> mr. donoghue, did you eventually tell the president that mass resignations would occur if he installed mr. clark and what the consequences would be? >> yes. so, this was in line with the president saying, what do i have to lose? and along those lines, he said, so, suppose i do this. suppose i replace him, jeff rosen, with him, jeff clark. what would you do? and i said, mr. president, i would resign immediately. i'm not working one minute for this guy, who i just, you know, declared was completely incompetent. and so, the president immediately turned to mr. engel, and he said, steve, you wouldn't resign, would you? and he said, absolutely, i would, mr. president. you leave me no choice. and then i said, and we're not the only ones. no one cares if we resign.
if steve and i go, that's fine. that doesn't matter. but i'm telling you what's going to happen. you're going to lose your entire department leadership. every single aide will walk out. your entire department leadership will walk out within hours. and i don't know what happens after that. i don't know what the united states attorneys are going to do. we have u.s. attorneys in districts across the country, and my guess would be that many of them would have resigned, and that would then have led to resignations across the department in washington, and i said mr. president, within 24, 48, 72 hours you could have hundreds and hundreds of resignations of the leadership of your entire justice department because of your actions. what's that going to say about you? >> wow. mr. engel, can you describe what your reaction was to that? >> yeah, no, i think when the president -- my recollection is that when the president turned to me and said, steve, you wouldn't leave, would you? i said, mr. president, i've been with you through four attorneys
general, including two acting attorneys general, but i couldn't be part of this. and then the other thing that i said was that, you know, look, all anyone is going to sort of think about when they see this -- no one is going to read this letter. all anyone is going to think is that you went through two attorneys general in two weeks until you found the environmental guy to sign this thing, and so the story is not going to be that the department of justice has found massive corruption that would have changed the result of the election. it's going to be the disaster of jeff clark, and i think at that point, pat cipollone said, yeah, this is a murder/suicide pact, this letter. >> and i would note, too, congressman, that it was in this part of the conversation where steve pointed out that jeff clark would be left leading a graveyard, and that that comment clearly had an impact on the president. the leadership will be gone. jeff clark will be left leading
a graveyard. >> again, the premise that -- which mr. donoghue has said, but that mr. clark could come in and take over the department of justice and do something different was just an absurd premise, and all he was doing, mr. clark, by putting himself forward, was blowing himself up and if the president were to have gone that course, it would have been a grievous error for the president as well. >> mr. cipollone, the white house counsel, told the committee that mr. engel's response had a noticeable impact on the president, that this was a turning point in the conversation. mr. donoghue, towards the end of this meeting, did the president ask you what was going to happen to mr. clark? >> he did. when we finally got to the -- i would say the last 15 minutes of the meeting, the president's decision was apparent. he announced that jeff clark tried to scrape his way back and ask the president to reconsider. the president doubled down, said, no, i've made my decision. that's it. we're not going to do it.
and then he turned to me and said, so, what happens to him now? meaning, mr. clark. and he understood that mr. clark reported to me. and i didn't initially understand the question. i said, mr. president? he said, are you going to fire him? and i said, i don't have the authority to fire him. he's the senate confirmed assistant attorney general. and he said, well, who has the authority to fire him? and i said, only you do, sir. and he said, well, i'm not going to fire him. i said, all right, well, then, we should all go back to work. >> did you get a call from the president later that night? >> i did, probably 90 minutes later or something like that. >> what was that about? >> the president at this point, we left the white house, reconvened at the department. i left the department, i was back in my apartment. my cell phone rang. it was the president, and he had information about a truck supposedly full of shredded ballots in georgia that was in
the custody of an i.c.e. agent whose name he had. i told him that i.c.e. was part of department of homeland security. i hadn't heard about this. if department of homeland security needed our assistance, we, of course, would provide it. but it was really up to dhs to make a call if their agent was involved, and he said, fine, i understand. can you just make sure that ken, meaning ken cuccinelli, knows about this. i said, fine, i would pass that along to him. i eventually contacted ken cuccinelli later that evening and i said, this is what the president told me. if you guys have anything you think should be brought to our attention, let me know. and he said, thank you, and that was it. >> mr. cipollone left the meeting convinced the president would not appoint mr. clark, but he didn't think the president had actually accepted the truth about the election. sure enough, all the same debunked theories appeared in a speech at the ellipse three days later.
>> in the state of arizona, over 36,000 ballots. 11,600 more ballots and votes were counted, more than there were actual voters. you see that? in wisconsin, corrupt democrat-run cities deployed more than 500 illegal, unmanned, unsecured drop boxes which collected a minimum of 91,000 unlawful votes. >> mr. donoghue, mr. rosen, mr. engel and others stopped president trump's efforts, at least temporarily. yet the message president trump and his republican allies pushed throughout december made its way to his supporters anyway. and they kept up the pressure campaign on the way to storming the capitol on january 6th. mr. rosen, were you at the department of justice on january 6th? >> yes, i was there all day. >> once the capitol was under
attack, i understand that you communicated with fellow cabinet members and capitol hill leadership. can you tell us who you spoke to? >> yeah. i was basically on the phone, virtually nonstop, all day, some calls with our own doj folks, some with cabinet counterparts at dhs and defense and the interior, some with senior white house officials and with a number of congressional leaders. i received calls from speaker pelosi, from leader mccarthy, from leader schumer, i believe leader mcconnell's chief of staff called. a number of other members of congress as well. and you know, the basic thrust of the calls with the members of congress was, there's a, you know, dire situation here, and can you help? and i reported to them that we were on a very urgent basis sending help from the department. we wound up sending over 500
agents and officers from fbi, atf, and the u.s. marshals to assist with restoring order at the capitol. so, had a number of calls. as i says, it was more or less nonstop all afternoon. >> did you speak to the vice president that day? >> yes, twice. >> please go ahead. >> i was going to say, the first call was a one-on-one discussion, somewhat akin to the congressional leadership calls, updating him on what we were doing to assist. and the second call was a conference call around 7:00 with the vice president, congressional leaders, senior white house staff, some other cabinet officials to address that order appeared to be close to being restored or restored but security still being determined and the question being what time could the congress reassemble? and the answer was, 8:00. and thankfully, congress did reassemble and complete its constitutional duty.
there was one highlight of that second call with the vice president, which is mr. donoghue had gone to the rotunda of the capitol to be able to give firsthand account and was able to tell the folks on the call, including the vice president, that we thought 8:00 would work. >> did you speak to the president on january 6th? >> no. i spoke to a number of senior white house officials, but not the president. >> mr. donoghue, on january 6th, we know, from mr. rosen, that you helped in the effort to reconvene joint session -- the joint session, is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> we see here in a video that we're going to play now, you arriving with your security detail to help secure the capitol. mr. donoghue, 30 minutes after you arrived at the capitol, did you lead a briefing for the vice president? >> i'm not sure exactly what the
time frame was, but i did participate in the call and participate in briefing the vice president as well as the congressional leadership that night, yes. >> where'd you conduct that call at? >> i was in an office. i'm not entirely sure where it was. my detail found it because the acoustics in the rotunda were such that it wasn't really conductive to having a call. they found an office, i went to that office and i believe i participated in two phone calls, one at 1800, one at 1900 that night from that office. >> what time did you actually end up leaving the capitol? >> i waited until the senate was back in session, which i believe they were gavelled in a few minutes after 8:00 p.m. and once they were back in session, and we were confident that the entire facility was secured and cleared, that there were no individuals hiding in closets or under desks, that there were no ieds or other suspicious devices left behind, i left minutes later. i was probably gone by 8:30. >> and mr. donoghue, did you
ever hear from president trump that day? >> no. like the aag, the acting aag, i spoke to pat cipollone and mark meadows and the vice president and the congressional leadership, but i never spoke to the president that day. >> so, today's hearing showcased the efforts of the americans before us to stand up for democracy. mr. rosen, mr. donoghue stayed steadfastly committed to the oath they take as officials in the department of justice. on january 6th itself, they assisted during the attack while our commander in chief stayed silent. their bravery is a high moment in the sordid story of what led to january 6th. my colleagues and i up here also take an oath. some of them failed to uphold theirs, and instead, chose to spread the big lie. days after the tragic events of january 6th, some of these same republican members requested
pardons in the waning days of the trump administration. five days after the attack on the capitol, representative mo brooks sent the email on the screen now. as you see, he emailed the white house, "pursuant to a request from matt gaetz, requesting a pardon for representative gaetz, himself and unnamed others." witnesses told the select committee that the president considered offering presidents to a wide range of individuals connected to the president. let's listen to some of that testimony. >> and was representative gaetz requesting a pardon? >> i believe so. the general tone was, we may get prosecuted because we were defensive of, you know, the president's positions on these things. a pardon that he was discussing,
requesting, was as broad as you could describe. from the beginning of time up until today for any and all things. he mentioned nixon, and i said, nixon's pardon was never nearly that broad. >> and are you aware of any members of congress? >> mr. gaetz and mr. brooks, i know, both advocated for a blanket pardon for members involved in that meeting and a handful of other members that weren't at the december 21st meeting. as the preemptive pardons. mr. gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early december. i'm not sure why. reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with mr. meadows about receiving a presidential pardon.
>> you mentioned mr. gaetz, mr. brooks. >> mr. biggs did. mr. durden talked about congressional pardons but he never asked me for one. it was more for an update on whether the white house was going to pardon members of congress. mr. gohmert asked for one as well. >> did he reach out to you directly? >> yes, he did. >> did marjorie taylor greene contact you? >> no, she didn't contact me about it. i heard that she had asked white house for a pardon from mr. philbin, but i didn't frequently communicate with ms. greene. >> are you aware of any conversations or communications regarding the possibility of giving congressman matt gaetz a pardon?
>> i know he had asked for it, but i don't know if he ever received one or what happened with it. >> how do you know that congressman gaetz asked for a pardon? >> he told me. >> tell us about that. >> he told me he'd asked meadows for a pardon. >> were you involved in or did you witness any conversations about the possibility of a blanket pardon for everyone involved in january 6th? >> i heard that mentioned, yeah. >> do you know whether the president had any conversations about potentially pardoning a family member? >> i know he had hinted at a blanket pardon for the january 6th thing for anybody, but i think he had, for all the staff and everyone involved, not with january 6th, but just before he left office, i know he had talked about that. >> the only reason i know to ask for a pardon is because you
think you've committed a crime. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> i want to thank our witnesses for joining us today. the members of the select committee may have additional questions for today's witnesses, and we ask that you respond expeditiously in writing to these questions. without objection, members will be permitted ten business days to submit statements for the record, including opening remarks and additional questions for the witnesses. without objection, the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois for a claimant. closing statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the justice department lawyers are not the president's personal lawyers. we count on them to be on the side of the law and to defend the best interests of the united states, not the best interest of any political campaign. that's how it's been since the department was founded soon after the civil war.
just department lawyers are supposed to play it 100% straight. president trump tried to erase his loss at the ballot box by parachuting an unqualified man into the top job at justice. it was a power play to win at all costs with no regard for the will of the american people. it was about ignoring millions of votes, ignore them, throw them out, label them fraudulent, corrupt, illegal, whatever. facts were clearly just an inconvenience. from the oval office, president trump urged others to bring his big lie to life. he begged, just say the election was corrupt, and leave the rest to me and the republican congressmen. he didn't care what the department's investigations proved. what good were facts when they would only confirm his loss? and it's no surprise that all the far-out, fully fabricated whack-job conspiracy theories collapsed under even the
slightest scrutiny. that insanity went from the internet to the highest levels of government in no time. the bottom line? the most senior leadership of the justice department, from attorney general bill barr to jeff rosen, his success or, everyone except jeff clark was telling president trump the very same thing. the conspiracy theories were false. the allegation of a stolen election was a lie. the data left no room for doubt, nothing to question. and the constitution left no room for president trump to change the outcome of the election. but we're here today because the facts were irrelevant to president trump. it was about protecting his power and very fragile ego, even if it involved recklessly undermining our entire electoral
system by wildly casting baseless doubt upon it. in short, he was willing to sacrifice our republic to prolong his presidency. i can imagine no more dishonorable act by a president. we owe a great debt of gratitude to these men you've heard from here today. real leaders who stood for justice when it was in grave peril. who put their country first when the leader of the free world demanded otherwise. they threatened to resign rather than corrupt our democracy. and thanks largely to each of them, president trump's coup failed. contrast that to jeff clark who would do exactly what the president wanted, forget the facts and leave the rest to president trump's congressional friends. mr. clark refused to cooperate with this committee. he pled the fifth over 125 times. why risk self-incrimination? and president trump's
congressional friends, some of them are angling for pardons? they knew that every bit of what they did was a lie and it was wrong. that's all the more reason to respect those who came here to testify today. we thank them for their unflinching service in the face of incredible pressure. as i said, the only thing necessary for evil to succeed is good men to do nothing. thankfully, there were good people in the department of justice. you heard from other good people too on tuesday. they too defended us. but i'm still worried that not enough has changed to prevent this from happening again. the oath that we take has to mean something. it has to cut to the core of who we are and be the driving force of our service to this nation. we on this committee, we may be able to shine light on the darkness, but that is not enough.
it's now up to every american, now and in the future, to stand for truth, to reject the lies, wherever we confront them, in our towns, in our capitals, in our friendships, in our families, and at the ballot box. and within our own minds and hearts. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> without objection, the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from wyoming, ms. cheney, for a closing statement. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and i again want to thank the witnesses for being here today. after today, i suspect that there will be some who label you agents of the deep state or something else conspiratorial or nonsensical meant to justify ignoring what you said today, ignoring the facts. that may be the short-term cost of acting honorably and telling the truth, but your actions should have an important
long-term impact. they will help keep us on the course set by the framers of our constitution. let me paraphrase the words of john adams and others. whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is ultimately for the american people to decide. and let me also today make a broader statement, to millions of americans who put their trust in donald trump. in these hearings so far, you've heard from more than a dozen republicans who have told you what actually happened in the weeks before january 6th. you will hear from more in the hearings to come. several of them served donald trump and his administration. others in his campaign. others have been conservative republicans for their entire careers. it can be difficult to accept that president trump abused your trust, that he deceived you. many will invent excuses to ignore that fact.
but that is a fact. i wish it weren't true, but it is. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> again, i thank our witnesses and thank my colleagues for this hearing. as we conclude our fifth hearing in this series, i want to remind the american people of a few things the committee has shown. donald trump lost the 2020 election. top republican officials who supported trump knew that he lost and told him he lost. trump knew he lost. those who say the election was affected by widespread voter fraud are lying. they were lying in 2020, they were lying in 2021, and indeed, they are lying today. donald trump went to court. that's the right any candidate seeking to challenge the outcome
of an election must do. donald trump lost in court dozens and dozens of times. he lost in part because there was no evidence that voter fraud had any impact on the results of the election. to borrow a phrase from our witness earlier this week, mr. bowers, all he had was theories and no evidence. as i have said, if you're running for office in the united states, that's the end of the line. you accept the court's judgment. you concede the race. you respect the rule of law and the will of the voters. but for donald trump, that wasn't the end of the line. not even close. the voters refused to keep him in office. the courts refused to keep him in office, but he continued to
lie, and he went in search of anyone who would go along with his scheme. and we have shown today, he pressured the justice department to act as an arm of his re-election campaign. he hoped law enforcement officials would give the appearance of legitimacy to his lies. so he and his allies had some veneer of credibility when they told the country that the election was stolen. earlier this week, we showed how donald trump brought the weight of the presidency down on local and state officials who were trying to do their jobs and ultimately did. they investigated his claims and found them to be false. and then, they endured trump's pressure campaign at great risk to themselves and their loved ones. and of course, that was the scheme to get the former vice
president, mike pence, to violate the law and the constitution by rejecting the electoral college votes on january 6th and blocking the peaceful transfer of power. i mentioned the former vice president last because as we showed, when he refused to bow to the pressure in those critical moments on january 6th, that was a back-up plan for stopping the transfer of power. the mob and their vile threats. up to this point, we've shown the inner workings of what was essentially a political coup. an attempt to use the powers of the government from the local level all the way up to overturn the results of the election. find me the votes. send fake electors. just say the election was corrupt. along the way, we saw threats of
violence. we saw what some people were willing to do. in the service of the nation, the constitution? no. in service of donald trump. when the select committee continues this series of hearings, we're going to show how donald trump tapped into the threat of violence, how he summoned the mob to washington, and how after corruption and political pressure failed to keep donald trump in office, violence became the last option. our investigation is ongoing. those hearings have spurred an influx of new information that the committee and our investigators are working to assess. we are committed to presenting the american people with the most complete information
possible. that will be our aim when we reconvene in the coming weeks. the chair, however, requests those in the hearing room remain seated until the capitol police have escorted members from the room. without objection, the committee stands adjourned. >> hi again, everyone, new revelations coming in waves today from the january 6th select committee who today named names, revealing the list of republican members of congress who contacted the white house after january 6th to seek presidential pardons for their conduct. a remarkable development showing these republicans, scott perry, louis gohmert, matt gaetz, mo brooks, andy biggs, and marjorie taylor greene had some knowledge that what they were engaging in was criminal, was illegal, and yet they pursued the big lie of voter fraud and everything that accompanied it and ultimately fueled a deadly insurrection. that stunning revelation of
presidential pardon testimony, those requests, came as the committee put front and center today the pressure campaign waged by the ex-president on his department of justice, whose top officials fortunately for all of us stood up for the rule of law and the constitution and did not ever bend to the ex-president's demands to legitimize his lies. former doj officials described in dramatic detail a surreal meeting in the white house three days before the january 6th insurrection wherein they relayed to the ex-president that if he installed his guy at doj, jeffrey clark, as acting attorney general, they would all resign en masse. >> i said, mr. president, i would resign immediately. i'm not working one minute for this guy, who i had just declared was completely incompetent. and so, the president immediately turned to mr. engel, and he said, steve, you wouldn't resign, would you?
and he said, absolutely, i would, mr. president. you leave me no choice. and then i said, and we're not the only ones. no one cares if we resign. if steve and i go, that's fine. that doesn't matter. but i'm telling you what's going to happen. you're going to lose your entire department leadership. every single aag will walk out and your entire department of leadership will walk out within hours. and i don't know what happens after that. i don't know what the united states attorneys are going to do. >> we are back with ari melber, msnbc chief legal correspondent, the host of "the beat," former senator and msnbc political analyst claire mccaskill is back, and joining our coverage, neal katyal, former acting u.s. solicitor general, now a georgetown university law professor. neal, for me, when i hear of the things happening in the west wing, which, when you work there, it's such a blessing, think of the trump west wing staff the way they conducted themselves, debasing that space, it has a physical impact on me. this was your sacred space, the department of justice. how is watching this today? >> it was so harrowing for me,
because there's -- i think when you saw richard donoghue testify today, that's the soul of the justice department. it's not political. i worked for two attorneys general who went after republicans and democrats alike. they didn't protect their friends. it's a nonpolitical place with highly structured traditions and what we saw today was donald trump blowing past all of them, and look, there's nobody who cares about the criminal case against donald trump more than me and the evidence today was overwhelming about that, but the first thing, my emotional reaction, was donald trump is not fit not only to be president, but even to be in this country. the picture today was a third-rate dictator. that's the way documents in foreign countries behave, not the way our justice department did. regardless of what you think about various presidents,bush, reagan, clinton, nobody treated the justice department this way, and nobody put anyone in the justice department like jeffrey clark, who would do that kind of
bidding. >> what's so amazing, what we saw today for the first time was some of the evidence that we had understood this committee had marshaled, but i don't know that we had ever seen it before. we saw some of the call logs they have, and interestingly, jeff clark gets the title, at least on the white house call log, of acting attorney general of the united states of america. he calls the president one, two, three, four, what, five, six, seven times or six times and his title gets changed sometime between 1:13 p.m. and 4:19 p.m. ahead of that oval so either someone misreads a cue or donald trump actually expresses his intent to make this switch that would have had the result that mr. donoghue testified to. >> yeah, when you're building a criminal conspiracy, nicole, you have to build both the intent and the overt acts. these are the kind of things, using white house evidence, of the overt acts. to neal's point, something that came through is this is the first time we have heard people testify about this under oath. that matters for the country,
because you can see them. make your own determination. do these people who were appointed by trump, do they sound truthful, honest, like they care about america or not? that's for the public. for the law, they're under oath. so, that's different than talking to a "washington post" reporter where they have had some good reporting about this, and what comes through in that clash in the oval is that you have someone who has the venality of an autocrat but not much of the competence, and i thought it was a really -- it was a really key moment where they are, as we just showed at the very end, you had some of the highlights, telling the president, on notice, we are your appointees, and your other trump appointees will all walk. this will be before the 6th so in the back of trump's mind, the venality is, oh, he might not care about the reputation or anything but he's thinking, that would complicate what he's trying to pull off on the 6th against pence. but they also tell him, well, and clark, you know, is being insubordinate among other things, potentially illegal. and then trump asks, well, if
you say he's insubordinate and you're unhappy with him, can you fire him? and they, being honest stewards of the law, as neal reminded us, they give the honest answer, which is, in that case, helpful to the venality part, the bad part of his brain. they say, well, as a matter of law, mr. president, as senate confirmed appointee like that can only be removed by the president. we cannot fire him even though we are documenting his insubordination. that is such a complete exposition of the positions they're in. they still talk about what's true and lawful. they still give the president accurate information as they also warn him that if he does go forward with this autocratic plan, they will leave. >> claire, one of the equally dramatic moments is this witness testimony, including john mcatee, who was a really loyalty enforcer for the trump -- melania and donald j. trump, testifying to the pigs at the trough of pardons. and remember who was slopping them up in the end.
steve bannon, violent criminals received pardons, and we have sworn testimony from jared kushner saying he couldn't listen to cipollone's whining because he was so busy getting out as many pardons as he could. now we know the line was drawn somewhere around steve bannon and louis gohmert. >> well, don't forget roger stone. >> he got one. mike flynn got one. >> that paragon of ethics, roger stone. >> but the r members of congress, they wanted them, they pursued them. cassidy hutchinson was the special assistant to the president and the head of the office of legislative affairs. they pursued them, at least a couple of them made john mcatee aware of them, very close to the trumps themselves, and the white house chief of staff, there's now testimony that he was working on them as well. >> the phrase that kept coming to mind, i'm somebody who started my career as a lawyer, as an assistant d.a. in a courtroom who was pounded into
my brain that it's the facts, the evidence, and the law. that's it. you can't let anything else get in the way. so as i listened to these men today, and i am guilty of assuming everyone that trump put in office was a joke and incompetent. these men were not incompetent. nor were the other senate-confirmed assistant attorney generals that agreed to resign, and it just reminded me that all of these witnesses were his people. >> yeah. >> and it also -- the phrase that kept coming to my mind is the depth of depravity. >> yeah. >> i keep thinking we found the low. right? he could not go lower than this. >> and he goes lower. >> every hearing, i see that we are -- we haven't hit rock bottom yet. this is a man who cares about nothing but himself. nothing. >> liz cheney makes the point that you're making right now in her closing statement. she says, in these hearings so far, you've heard from more than
a dozen republicans who told you what actually happened in the weeks before january 6th. you'll hear from more from the hearings to come. several of them served donald trump and the administration. others, in his campaign. otherwise have been conservative republicans for their entire careers. it can be difficult to accept that president trump abused your trust, that he deceived you. many will invent excuses to ignore that fact, but it is a fact. i wish it was not true, but it is, and we have some breaking news right now, neal. i've seen this and you may not know this yet. but congressman mo brooks has agreed to appear before the january 6th committee if his terms are met. so, that would add to liz cheney's list. >> is he wearing body armor? >> mo brooks, for anyone who forgets that tape that will live forever in my nightmares, he wore body armor to the ellipse. >> what bothers me about the hearings is that some of the key people are just awol. for me the most important one is vice president pence but also patrick cipollone, the white house counsel.
these are people with really important testimony and the committee's done a masterful job of trying to tell the story from their aides, other people. today we heard a lot about the white house counsel, but not from the white house counsel. but from these former justice department people. so, i'm glad mo brooks is coming forward. i really think the vice president has to come forward and fill in that picture and the white house counsel. >> and mark meadows. >> yeah. >> i guarantee you he's the one who put acting -- told him to put acting attorney general on the call log. he knew what was going on. he was in that meeting. where is mark meadows? why aren't we searching his house is what i want to know. >> i want to ask you, ari, about this question of pat cipollone because he wasn't present but he was there. everyone testified. they almost encircled him. what is the rationale to not cooperate with this committee at this point when all of your counterparts at doj have told the full and complete story of your participation in the attempted coup plot there? >> i suppose only he knows. >> i mean -- i don't mean to
implicate that he participated in the coup, but his participation in blocking it at doj. >> there are individuals like meadows and cipollone that have some privilege claims but that doesn't mean being awol and not trying to answer anything. but there may be people who are so close to it, i mean, i've made this point. the people who are ducking the most are very tied to the coup attempt. >> right. >> the tweet that you had up on the screen -- sorry, not you, we had up on the screen on behalf of the committee, i should say, but that the committee ended today with was the summoning of the masses. >> it will be wild. >> yeah. it will be wild. that tweet starts with peter navarro, with the voter fraud claims that might turn into let the record reflector fraud. mr. navarro, mr. meadows, and mr. bannon, who has inserted himself how much, we don't know, are also the people ducking and of course eastman and clark who both have, at a minimum, legal problems, pleading the fifth. so, it's not that wild to me. when you look, i mean, sidney
powell did a lot of sketchy things, but she seems to think, rightly or not, to answer your question, ms. powell seems to think that she can speak and not be indicted. that's her current bet. and other people are doing that too, clearly, the kushners and ivanka. and then you have people who don't seem as confident in that bet. >> right. >> there's like two reasons why people like patrick cipollone aren't testifying. the real reason is fear. they just have a lot of stuff they don't necessarily want to come out. they're afraid of their own personal liability. the reason they offer up is privilege. and you ask, what privilege? there's executive privilege, but that's been debunked by the supreme court in an 8-1 decision and then there's attorney-client privilege, which doesn't really extend to the white house counsel in these kinds of situations, because he's doing the public's bidding. and all privilege claims, the supreme court always says this over and over again, in every privilege decision, they're never absolute. they're always subject to balancing. and if there's ever a case to pierce any residual privilege, it's this one. if you're not going to get the
white house counsel's testimony on a coup plot and insurrection plot involving the white house, you're not going to get it for anything. >> and just as a staffer, this may be a view that only i have, as an ex-staffer, there is something really gross and weak about leaving your deputies on the battlefield of american politics and not standing by them, and i feel that way about mike pence's senior advisors, marc short and mr. jacob testifying, and i feel that way seeing the deputy white house counsel cooperate so fulsomely, willing to not just answer the questions but offer characterizations and they're colorful and full of expletives but i imagine if jeffrey clark is telling you he's going to carry out a coup at doj, you drop a few f-bombs. >> everyone takes their support from the leader so all of these folks are sloughing it off on their aides but who's the biggest m.o. of that? donald trump. >> i want to bring into our conversation, someone who's broken so many stories about this committee's investigation,
jackie alemany. i looked out, you're there. you're at the scene of all the action. "washington post" congressional investigations reporter and msnbc contributor. we'll let you sort of start over this conversation. what struck you the most today? >> yeah, well, i'm currently trying to eavesdrop on adam kinzinger who's doing a hit next door to me. >> tell us what he says. >> we were thrown a ton of new information in that hearing, including actual proof of emails, of gop house lawmakers at the very end there who explicitly asked for presidential pardons. you had mo brooks write in an email asking for pardons for himself and a group of lawmakers, including congressman matt gaetz. for their involvement in efforts to overturn the election, he specifically mentions arizona, and then the committee went on to play other testimony from cassidy hutchinson and eric herschmann, saying they were asked for pardons as well, were asked for updates from jim jordan on the status of
presidential pardons, whether preemptive pardons would be given. other names that were mentioned included scott perry, paul gosar, and cassidy hutchinson said she heard marjorie taylor greene had asked if a pardon was going to be given to her as well. that's a pretty long list there and as soon as this committee finished their fifth hearing, we actually got an email press release from mo brooks's office, making him the first gop lawmaker to open the door to potentially cooperating with the committee, saying that under certain conditions, which i have right here, that he would cooperate with the committee. that includes the hearing -- his testimony being a public hearing within the scope of things only related to january 6th. a document disclosure, deposition date options, and he had concluded that he would agree to cooperate but that there wasn't that much that he had to add. but you know, that email there really, i think, contradicts his final statement.
it remains to be seen whether or not the committee would agree to those terms of the deposition, especially that public hearing part, but the fact that he's actually coming out and potentially willing to cooperate, i think, suggests that there is some concern here about what the committee has dug up. >> but he wants it to take place live, jackie. he wants all the media to watch. he is asking for different conditions, and if you look at the reporting, great reporting from you and your colleagues and i think the other organizations have reported on donald trump's rage that kevin mccarthy blew the media part of the 1/6 hearings. i mean, is there any reason to be suspicious that his motives are not pure? >> absolutely, nicole. thank you for reading us closely this morning. there's a lot of reason to be suspicious as donald trump has been pretty furious with mccarthy dropping the ball on having gop lawmakers sitting on the committee to be able to defend him on the dais where right now he's being trounced but he's not being trounced by
democratic members. he's being hit, and his words picked apart by members of his own party, his -- in his own words and from some of his top doj officials. if you think about the spectrum of people that we've heard from so far, we haven't heard from, really, many democrats at all. and today, that testimony that is pretty problematic for the former president and really methodically went through his push to install someone who was considered to be underqualified to lead the department of justice in order to do things that everyone else around him found unconstitutional were pretty damning but you had jeffrey rosen, rich donoghue, and steven engel testifying essentially the entire time throughout that hearing in their own words, talking about what the former president was up to. so, it's not very clear how much of a defense republican lawmakers can provide at this point. >> i wonder, jackie, stay with us. claire, i wonder how much the
committee intends to show us with each of these hourslong hearings, how aware donald trump was that these were lies. because it was subtle in today's presentation. but the hours spent on the january 3rd meeting in the oval office, which is one of the most dramatic windows into donald trump's words, conduct, statement, decision making, it all still for me resembles an "apprentice" episode. what would you do? they're all sitting in front of him. it's really galling. but at the end of the day, we know that he knew it was all, as bill barr said, b.s., and who are these people? you know, to your point, they're the people that would run doj when bill barr wouldn't. these are not deep state actors. these are the doj officials willing to stay for a phase that bill barr wasn't willing to stay for. they are testifying under oath to what they told donald trump, that all these plots, the lasers, you know, they're
asinine and we have to save it for another day whether or not it's even appropriate for them to have been investigated at the highest levels of the government by the attorney general, by the secretary of defense, but they were. so, trump has knowledge, again, we heard from hours of his knowledge that all of these lies were just that. lies. >> trump knew that, you know -- and the idea that he was trolling the internet and, you know, that whole thing about italy and, you know, you just, like, well -- >> it ends with one more. it's like a scripted series, right? it ends and then you've got the season cliff hanger, the i.c.e. truck. >> the i.c.e. truck with shredded ballots, which i'm sure was nothing. because i'm sure that his folks over at dhs looked at it and said, no, that's another big made-up story. he knew it was all lies. but you know, nicole, it didn't matter to him because he's lived his life lying. >> but does it matter now that there's an escalating criminal investigation? >> i think it does matter now there's an escalating criminal investigation and i think all these guys wanting to slop at the trough, as you said, for a pardon, and you know, i can
explain to that doj official why matt gaetz wanted the pardon so broad. >> yes. >> we all can now. >> he wanted the pardon very broad. >> does it cover insurrections and alleged federal sex crimes? >> let's consider this for a minute. mo brooks may be willing to do this because he just lost his primary after trump pulled his endorsement. so, mo brooks may not be wanting to do a public hearing to keep up the lie. he may want to finally say, hey, yeah, trump knew it wasn't true, but we tried to pull this off. you never know. because i don't think there's any love lost at this point with mo brooks and trump, even though he pretended during the election that everything was fine because he was trying to survive and win a republican primary for the senate. >> and he seems like someone who would be particularly important if this heads into what chairman bennie thompson talked about, which is violence, and what trump knew about the violence. mo brooks was wearing body armor. >> he was wearing body armor. he spoke at the rally. he's certainly someone of interest. the efforts to make members of
congress testify are indeed complex. there are precedents where people in government just step up and do it. hillary clinton faced a long, aggressive set of questions. >> that's right. >> and she just did it. having said that, i try to be very careful here. i am more attentive more attent concerned about at least some of the precedence there that members of congress do have a special role, i think it's fair to say. i also don't take mr. brooks' current offer, now that we've read it all that seriously yet. >> you read it. found this keyword. >> our colleague from the post mentioned this, too. he said the deposition must be in public in a room of sufficient size and broadcast the media event live. he's asking for a mo brooks day hearing day. and by the way, that's negotiating. he can do -- >> he can start there. >> i don't believe the current leadership of this committee, and they have been quite serious. i would credit both of them, liz cheney and --
>> chairman thompson. >> chairman thompson, thank you. they have been quite serious. they have used witnesses in a specific way. almost everyone to our knowledge has gone in first before live. and what he's asking for is not a small matter. it would make him 1 out of a thousand. very special. he is a member of congress. that's one thing. if pence or trump demanded that, you could come up with hypotheticals that you could grant that. i don't know what you all think. i don't know if mo brooks meets the standard. >> my sense is like most legal proceedings you have a deposition first and then you have live testimony, and that structure works really well. creates incentives for truth in making sure the story space consistent, which is why something donald trump would resist, one and done if at most if he testified anywhere. i don't think the committee should go along with this. i do think it's different if
you're talking about a sitting high official. >> but you're not vote for mo brooks day? >> i think it's a platform day for mo brooks. >> neal, if you've tried cases in front of a jury, it is dangerous to ask a witness a question that you don't know how they're going to answer, and that's what mo brooks would be. he'd be a trip down a minefield, because you never know what's going to come out of his mouth, and he would say things that you could rebut in realtime. you'd have to come back. >> these were witnesses that were under oath. to me, the striking thing was the evidence of premeditation by donald trump. the piece that really got me was bill barr saying -- he's asked, why do you break with the justice department's policy of not investigating election fraud until it's over? and he says, well, because i was worried that donald trump, if i didn't investigate, was going to cam after me and say, there was
fraud here and you're falling down on the job. >> importantly, that continues. the through line between the barr leadership between election fraud conspiracy theories that are unfound second down donahue -- i want to play this. this is number 10. congressman kinzinger pressing donahue and rosen about seizing voting machines. >> there was a point at which the president said something about, glad you guys seized machines. >> mr. rosen, the president asked you to seize voting machines from state governments. what was your response to that request? >> we had seen nothing improper with regard to the voting machines, and i told them that the real experts of that had been at dhs, and they had briefed us that they had looked at it, and there was nothing
wrong with the voting machines. >> toward the end of the meeting, the president again was getting very agitated, and he said, people tell me i should just get rid of both of you. i should just remove you and make a change in the leadership, put jeff clark in. maybe something will finally get done. >> you know what this testimony provided was a detailed look at the coup plot within doj, but also the most visibility we have had in the efforts to exploit homeland security and the pentagon for this overturning of the election that he clearly set his executive branch of the government out to do. >> you've got the pentagon, homeland security, the justice department, and it's an orchestrated plot by trump -- >> directed by trump. >> and it starts early. to me what was interesting was jeffrey clark breaking the white house contacts policy with the justice department, which is like a hallowed, important document. i worked on it when i was just a
justice, and it governs and says only the deputy attorney general or attorney general communicates with the white house counsel or president. jeffrey clark is a constitutional nobody. he's an environmental lawyer, and here he is going into meeting with the president. you don't stumble into the white house, at least if you're not rudy giuliani, but he here is having high-level conversations with the president and basically orchestrating saying, i'll do your bidding. just put me in charge. it is damning for jeffly clark, but far more damning for the president to be doing that kind of thing. >> jackie, do we still have you? >> yeah. actually i wanted to play devil's advocate her on mo brooks day. i do agree with you, ari, that would in part be an in kind contribution to mo brooks' now dead campaign for senate, but on the other hand i want to look back at watergate and actually the live testimonies provided a lot of discovery for the
committee at the time. and i think it's important to remember that alexander butterfield, the top white house aide to nixon at the time first revealed the existence of the watergate tapes during live testimony before congress. hadn't previously been revealed in the investigative efforts that had been done, and then obviously it very much dramatically changed the course of the investigation, so there is some benefit that could potentially come out of just getting someone out there and on the stand to begin with. and at the end of the day, liz cheney, jamie raskin, adam schiff, these are seasoned lawyers with lots of experience in asking questions and asking challenging questions. you've seen liz cheney behind the scenes in those depositions asking a lot of the witnesses questions as well in addition to the investigators' questions. so i'm not completely sure it's the worst idea, but, you know, it doesn't seem light the committee has it in their plans right now. >> it's such a good point, and
it was liz cheney doing the questioning. we commented here that a his listed responses from -- ari and i will be back at 8:00. you have a show to do. our special coverage continues with ari melber after a quick break. don't go anywhere. n't go anywhere. sometimes i'm all business. wooo! i'm a momma 24/7. seriously with the marker? i'm a bit of a foodie. perfect. but not much of a chef. yes! ♪ wayfair you've got just what i need. ♪
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