“Leave the rest to me”
Trump wanted to force the Justice Department to lie
By Christopher Wittich, Washington
6/24/2022 7:36 am
The hearings on the storming of the Capitol are closed for this month. After five meetings of the committee of inquiry, it is clear that Trump has tried everything to stay in power. An interim conclusion after five sessions.
A bit of Hollywood flair hangs over this event in the US House of Representatives. Even actor Sean Penn came. He just wants to observe, he tells journalists in passing. He takes his place alongside Michael Fanone, one of the police officers injured in the attack on the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2022, who – unlike Penn – is a guest at every meeting of the committee of inquiry. Over the course of the two and a half hour session, Penn shook his head several times. The testimonies do not allow any other reaction either – they are revealing on this day as well.
The focus this time: the Ministry of Justice. Donald Trump wanted to abuse it for his benefit. A cue note and descriptions by Richard Donoghue, then assistant attorney general, make it clear what the president wanted from the ministry: “Say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
Another Trump idea that became public that day: The ministry should send a letter to Georgia state officials pointing out alleged evidence of voter fraud and declaring the election there in favor of Donald Trump. Joe Biden had won that state by just a few thousand votes.
But those in charge at the Justice Department at the time didn’t want to do any of that. That’s why Trump threatened to throw out the entire management level at a dramatic meeting on January 3, 2021 in the White House – after only a few weeks in office. Because all the people sitting across from him in the Oval Office that day were only there because his Attorney General fired William Barr shortly after the election. why? He didn’t want to support Trump’s ideas about election fraud, calling them “bullshit”. A video of Barr’s questioning, shown in a previous session, makes this clear.
Trump has pressured the Justice Department to “act as an arm of his reelection campaign,” said committee chair Bennie Thompson, a Democrat. “He hoped law enforcement would lend legitimacy to his lies so that he and his allies would have some semblance of credibility when telling the country the election was stolen.”
Even Ivanka Trump keeps his distance
In the same video as Barr, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who clearly distances herself from her father, has his say. She believes William Barr that there is no evidence of voter fraud, according to her testimony. At another point in the series of meetings, it became clear that Trump was also putting massive pressure on his own Vice President Mike Pence. He urged the Republican to declare him the winner of the election.
Trump obviously tried everything to stay in office. Closest advisors, family members – many told him there was no evidence of voter fraud. He didn’t listen to her. Even Italy wanted to blame Trump for his electoral defeat. There, the voting computers were manipulated by satellite in such a way that Trump votes were counted for Biden. A senior Defense Ministry official had to call Rome and investigate this conspiracy theory. It’s one of those moments when brief laughter erupts in the hall at Thursday’s hearing.
“Trump was willing to sacrifice our republic”
However, what the investigative committee has presented to the American public so far is no laughing matter at all. Testimonies, video evidence and e-mails show that Donald Trump used the power of the presidency to exert pressure – on government employees and ministries, even on election workers, the 45th President of the United States did not shy away. Georgia’s Ruby Freeman is one such poll worker. Trump made her personally responsible for the “stolen election”, she became a scapegoat and was heavily hostile to Trump supporters. Since then, she has never felt safe anywhere, she told the committee.
Based on what the committee has learned so far and what the witnesses have said, Trump knew that all of his theories about voter fraud were nothing but lies. “He was willing to sacrifice our republic to extend his presidency,” said Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who led Thursday’s poll. The committee announced that the investigation will continue and that there is more material. It should be in mid-July.
But the most important question remains unanswered: What can this committee of inquiry change? The leadership of the Republican Party in Texas has just declared that it regards the election of Joe Biden as illegitimate, in Washington a man like Kinzinger is isolated in his own party. According to a recent survey by the polling institute Yougov for The Economist, only 25 percent of Republican supporters believe that Biden is legitimately in office. Millions of Americans still cling to Trump’s lie that his election was “stolen” from him.
Congressional elections are due in November. It is the first nationwide vote in the United States since January 6, 2021, the storming of the Capitol in Washington.