Donald Trump’s former White House lawyer testified that he told the man the 45th president wanted to install as his election-subverting attorney general that his first official act would be “committing a felony,” the Jan. 6th Committee revealed on Thursday.
“I said … fucking a-hole … congratulations: You’ve just admitted your first step or act you’d take as attorney general would be committing a felony,” ex-White House lawyer Eric Herschmann recounted telling Jeffrey Clark, the man whose home federal authorities recently searched.
Herschmann added that Clark also would be violating Rule 6(e), governing grand jury secrecy.
“You’re clearly the right candidate for this job,” Herschmann added with heavy sarcasm, in a deposition video revealed on Thursday afternoon.
The revelation emerged just hours after reports first emerged that federal authorities searched Clark’s home on Wednesday.
Thursday’s hearing focused on the same topic that was the focus of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s scathing report late last year: “Subverting Justice: How the Former President and His Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the Election.”
The witnesses included some of the central figures in that report: former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, ex-Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, the former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.
Donoghue testified that he told Trump time and again that his election fraud claims weren’t true.
“I felt that being very blunt in that conversation might help make it cleear to the President that these allegations were simply not true,” he said.
Prompted by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Rosen testified that he was surprised when Trump mentioned Clark’s name. Clark was an environmental lawyer with no experience in criminal or election law.
Previous hearings of the Jan. 6 Committee showed former Attorney General Bill Barr’s disdain for Trump’s conspiracy theories, which he repeatedly called “bullshit.” Barr uproariously laughed at the central premise of one-time felon Dinesh D’Souza’s film “2000 Mules.” Trump pardoned D’Souza for campaign finance crimes before embracing his film’s false claims that cellphone data proved fraud in the 2020 election.
After Barr’s departure, Rosen took over as acting attorney general, and Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows asked him several times to initiate supposed fraud investigations, the Senate Judiciary Committee previously found.
According to that prior committee, the rabbit holes Meadows wanted Rosen to investigate included aspersions on Dominion voting machines in New Mexico, where Joe Biden handily won by 99,720 votes. Meadows also wanted the DOJ to probe false claims of “signature match anomalies” in Fulton County, Georgia and the outlandish tale pushed by Rudy Giuliani called “Italygate,” the notion that the CIA and an Italian IT contractor used military satellites to manipulate voting machines and change Trump votes to Biden votes.
Dominion Voting Systems-related conspiracy theories in particular were standard fare for Sidney Powell, a key lawyer for the so-called “Kraken” litigation seeking to overturn Biden’s victories in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona. A federal judge in Michigan sanctioned Powell for her tactics in that effort, and Powell is now fighting a referral seeking her suspension or disbarment.
Trump wanted to replace Rosen with Clark, his former head of the Justice Department’s civil division. Clark subscribed to what Rosen previously described as outlandish “internet theories” about voting machines behind hacked by smart thermostats.
The Washington Post recently reported that Donoghue warned of “mass resignations” if Trump put Clark in charge. Engle was reportedly another of the high-ranking Justice Department figures who threatened to resign.
This is a developing story.
[Image via Jan. 6 Committee/YouTube screengrab]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]