A tense meeting between Trump and leaders of the Ministry of Justice to take center stage in the January 6 session

WASHINGTON — The Jan. 6 panel plans to take viewers into the Oval Office Thursday afternoon, when witnesses described a contentious meeting in which Justice Department leaders threatened to resign if then-President Donald Trump promoted a politically appointed person he was willing to support. False allegations of electoral fraud.

The committee’s fifth public hearing will focus on the former president’s efforts to leverage the constituency’s legal power and authority as he attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

In keeping with the message the committee has always pushed home, the hearing is expected to show how the American democratic tradition has been largely spared by the integrity of the few who stood up to Trump and refused to keep pace with his plan to retain power.

Three former senior Justice Department officials who rejected Trump at the time will testify live on air: Jeffrey Rosen, acting attorney general; Richard Donoghue, Acting Deputy Attorney General; and Stephen Engel, who led the department’s office of legal counsel.

All three participated in an Oval Office meeting on January 3, 2021 — three days before the attack on the Capitol — where Trump considered removing Rosen and replacing him with Jeffrey Clark, the department’s environmental official. Although the department had already concluded that there was no fraud on a scale that would affect the outcome of the election, Clark was willing to “reverse the department’s investigative conclusion…if appointed,” a committee aide told reporters Jan. 6 at Conference call Wednesday.

The aide said that had Trump fired Rosen, Clark would have sent “false letters urging state legislatures to withdraw” their testimony that Joe Biden had won those states.

“We’ll see, once again, that President Trump failed here only because the Justice Department’s senior leadership team stood up and threatened to resign rather than help the president undermine the democratic process,” the aide said.

Trump wanted to deploy the Department of Justice in various ways to help him secure a second term. The aide said the committee will describe at the hearing how Trump pressured the department to file lawsuits in conjunction with his re-election campaign, which in the aftermath of the November election attempted to challenge Biden’s victory through the courts. The committee will also detail how Trump wanted the department to appoint a special counsel to investigate cases of election fraud — a request that officials rejected.

The session is scheduled to begin at 3 PM ET and is expected to last about two hours. More hearings are scheduled for July and will focus on Trump’s actions when a mob stormed the Capitol, among other issues.

The remaining schedule appears to be in flux, in part due to new information and leads that reached the commission’s information line after the first public hearing on June 9.

One of the new evidence the commission is considering now includes footage taken by British director Alex Holder during the campaign. The video includes interviews with Trump and his family, along with then-Vice President Mike Pence. The committee is likely to highlight the footage at a future hearing.

Trump did not testify before the committee, nor is he expected to, but he used his megaphone to undermine the committee’s work. Members have been accused of selectively editing testimonials to make it look bad. In a speech in Nashville, Tennessee, last week, Trump said, “This is a one-sided stalking.”

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