After the January 6 committee’s report issued testimony Thursday claiming they had sought mercy from the previous president after the Capitol attack, a few House Republicans who actively discussed overthrowing the 2020 election with Donald Trump vehemently denied pursuing pardons.
Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), and Matt Gaetz were among the lawmakers who reached out to White House officials trying to seek leniency during the post-January 6 periods, by several top Trump assistants, including special assistant Cassidy Hutchinson and aide Johnny McEntee (R-Fla.).
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) also requested “all-purpose” pardons for all lawmakers who opposed electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania in an email on January 11, 2021, according to the former Trump aide’s testimony. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) never requested forgiveness but did ask for a status update on other members’ petitions, according to Hutchinson.
Following what the committee report revealed to be weeks of efforts by Trump’s top congressional Republican defenders to disseminate false information on the outcome of the 2020 election, a flurry of pardon requests was made. Additionally, those GOP senators assisted in exerting pressure on the Justice Department to support those fictitious fraud allegations. None of the legislators have ever been pardoned.
Later on Thursday, a number of House Republicans vehemently denied seeking their own pardons. Gohmert stated in his request that he requested pardons for individuals unrelated to January 6. “I stand by my statement that I never sought a Presidential pardon for myself or any Members of Congress,” Perry said in a statement he released, repeating his allegation that he requested clemency.
Biggs declared the accusations to be “false” on Twitter. Jordan refused to say whether he had sought a status update but never asked for a pardon.
Although they didn’t openly refute the accusations, several Republicans lambasted the committee. Hutchinson said that she “heard” about a pardon request, according to Greene, who claimed that the committee was relying on hearsay. Hutchinson, however, repeatedly dodged inquiries from journalists about whether or not she had ever requested a pardon.
Gaetz dismissed inquiries late Thursday regarding the supporting documentation for his request for a pardon and instead lambasted the selected committee in a tweet.
The email demand, on the other hand, according to Brooks, “says it all,” expressing worries that Democrats would charge or imprison Republicans for their opposition to recognizing the electoral votes.
After a conversation taking place after January 6, the Alabama Republican told journalists that Trump had asked him to submit his pardon request “in writing so it can be examined” and that, after receiving his email, “the president believed it would have been best just to let it work out.” He and I both agreed.
The testimony about pardons also emphasized the lack of testimony from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin, both of whom the panel’s vice chair, Liz Cheney, had urged to testify in recent times. Both have had informal meetings with the panel but have not been heavily discussed during the open hearings. According to some evidence on Thursday, Philbin was the subject of amnesty requests.
The investigative panel’s chair, Bennie Thompson, told journalists that the panel could substantiate its claims on the GOP pardon requests as it was ready to introduce new evidence at hearings next month: “We can back up what we demonstrated today.”
The lengths Trump and his associates went to in order to work with the DOJ in his attempt to win a second term after the election was highlighted by its sixth public session.
Top Trump authorities at the time, including acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue, and former Office of Legal Counsel Chief Steven Engel, recalled a series of meetings that became increasingly aggressive attempts to stop Trump from using the DOJ in his favor as well as a determined but largely successful campaign to stop him from appointing a more obedient official to the position.
According to Trump’s remarks on Thursday, “You guys might not be monitoring the internet the way I do.”
One such possibility, according to Donoghue, is that Italian satellites moved votes from Trump to Joe Biden. The committee report also revealed that Chris Miller, Trump’s recently appointed acting defense secretary, called Italian authorities to learn more about the absurd hypothesis.
The focus of the hearing was mostly on how Trump’s congressional allies increased pressure on the DOJ despite the Department thoroughly refuting Donald Trump’s charges of election fraud.
The select committee revealed on Thursday that Perry, who is currently the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, assisted in establishing a connection between Trump and Jeffrey Clark, a lesser-known DOJ environmental official whom Trump believed would support his disproved accusations of fraudulent voting. According to visitor logs made available by the Capitol riot committee, Perry took Clark to the White House on December 22, 2020.
When Rosen, Donoghue, Engel, as well as Cipollone, warned of a mass departure within the DOJ, Trump will go so far as to propose Clark the top position at the Justice Department before backing down. The witnesses claimed that when Engel warned Trump that a Clark-run DOJ would be a “burial ground,” Trump reportedly changed his mind and abandoned the plan.
Trump made it apparent, according to Donoghue, that he’s not concerned about the veracity of any charges of election fraud; instead, he was just concerned about whether the DOJ would support them and leave the rest up to him and his allies. Trump had pushed his DOJ leaders to write a letter outlining worries about voting irregularities in numerous states as part of that scheme.
Clark was preparing to send that letter, requesting that states meet their legislatures and decide whether to start electing Trump-supporting electors to the presidency. Previously this year, when the select committee questioned Clark about these issues during a deposition, Clark used his Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination.
As evidence of a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempts to rig the election, FBI agents searched Clark’s house on Wednesday, according to several representatives of the select committee.
The panel discovered text exchanges between Perry and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in court documents related to its inquiry, in which Perry asked Meadows to promote Clark at the DOJ as soon as possible. The two also talked about Clark’s prospective deputy. Additionally, the select committee has evidence that Meadows destroyed several documents in his office during a discussion with Perry in those key weeks following the election.
Rosen and Donoghue also talked about what they went through on January 6 and mentioned that they were constantly in contact with legislative leaders, cabinet members, then-Vice President Mike Pence, and senior White House aides. But they pointed out that despite the commotion, Trump remained silent.