Representatives Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert and Scott Perry were among Republican members of Congress who asked President Donald Trump to protect them from future prosecutions by granting their presidential pardon in the days immediately following the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 last year.
Their names were revealed Thursday during the House Selected Committee hearing on January 6, which focused on Mr Trump’s efforts to put pressure on the Justice Department to aid in its efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. for Joe Biden to undo.
Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, the Republican select committee member that presided over the hearing, suggested asking for a clemency meant his colleagues at least suspected they might be prosecuted later.
“All I know is that if you’re innocent, you probably won’t go out and ask for a pardon,” he said.
The select committee played videotaped excerpts from statements by former Trump White House staffers describing the Republican members’ efforts to get a pardon after Mr. Trump’s plan led to an attack on the Capitol by his supporters. .
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special assistant to the president, said Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Brooks had both called for a “general pardon” for members involved in a December meeting to plan events for January 6.
“Mr. Gaetz personally pushed for a pardon and has been doing so since early December,” she said in a pre-recorded testimony from the commission.
Ms. Hutchinson also said Congresswoman Jim Jordan talked about pardons from Congress, but didn’t specifically ask for it. She said of Marjorie Taylor Greene, “I heard she asked the White House for a pardon.”
Former White House deputy counsel Eric Herschmann, who confirmed to the panel that Mr. Gaetz asked for a pardon, added: “The general tone was, ‘We could be prosecuted for being defensive of … the views’ from the president on these matters.” †
Mr. Brooks, an Alabama Republican, requested a pardon in a Jan. 11, 2021 email to Mr. Trump’s aide Molly Michael, sent to him on behalf of himself and Mr. Gaetz, a Florida Republican to whom reportedly an investigation is underway for sex trafficking. Mr Gaetz has denied any allegation and has not been charged with any criminal offences.
“It is clear that deep-seated and venomous Socialist Democrats (with perhaps some liberal Republican aid) are going to abuse the American justice system by attacking numerous Republicans with false charges stemming from our recent fight for fair and accurate elections, and speeches related to them. keep,” wrote Mr Brooks.
Mr Brooks added that he recommended that Mr Trump grant “general pardons (for all intents)” to all GOP members of the House and Senate who voted against certifying the 2020 election, as well as those who signed up to a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to throw out electoral votes from swing states won by Mr. Biden.
The commission’s vice chair, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, had previously claimed that others in Trump’s orbit had sought a pardon in the wake of the January 6 attack, including “several” members of Congress, during the first public meeting. panel hearing earlier this month.
While the identities of most GOP members had remained unknown until now, Ms. Cheney had previously revealed that a pardon had been sought by Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry and John Eastman, the former Chapman University law professor who served as Vice President Mike Pence pressured for electoral votes from the swingstates won by Mr. Biden at the Jan. 6, 2021 joint congressional session, where Mr. Biden’s victory was to be recognized.
In an email from Mr Eastman to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani just days after the attack, the conservative lawyer wrote, “I’ve decided I should be on the pardon list, if it’s still in the works.”
Nick Akerman, a veteran defense attorney who served as an assistant US attorney in New York and as a deputy special counsel at Watergate, told the independent that a request for a pardon is a strong indication that the person requesting it knows that he has broken the law.
“This is clear evidence of someone who believes he has committed a crime and is concerned about prosecution – an innocent person does not ask for a pardon,” he said. “A request for clemency, when there isn’t even an investigation underway, is overwhelming evidence of guilt.”
Perry, who has denied asking for a pardon, featured prominently in the panel’s presentation on Thursday, in which former Trump-era Justice Department officials testified about the role of the Pennsylvania Republican in a proposal that was presented to Trump by Jeffrey Clark, an environmental attorney who was then the head of the department’s civil division.
The Pennsylvania Republican had actually introduced Mr. Trump to Mr. Clark, who encouraged the president to fire then-Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen, and install him on top of the DOJ so he could pressure state lawmakers to overturn the election results. in their states based on undoing claims. of fraud that the department had already debunked.
After Mr. Clark told Mr. Rosen that he was being elevated to Mr. Rosen’s current job, Mr. Rosen and other top Justice Department leaders confronted him and Mr. Trump in a controversial Oval Office meeting.
One of the former officials who attended the meeting, former Deputy Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, described at the hearing how he and the other DOJ leaders told Mr. Trump they would resign if he called Mr. Clark — an inexperienced environmental law specialist. like a trial attorney or prosecutor – their boss.
“I said, Mr President, I would resign immediately. I don’t work for this man for a minute [Mr Clark] who I have just stated was completely incompetent.”
He said Mr Trump then turned to Steven Engel, then the head of the DOJ’s office of legal counsel, and asked if he would also resign. In response, he said that Mr. Engel told the president, “Absolutely, Mr. President, you would leave me no choice.”
Donoghue then said he told the president he would “lose”. [his] entire department management” if he went ahead with Mr. Clark’s plan.
“Every cop will leave you, your entire Justice Department leadership will walk away in a few hours,” he recalled.
The select committee also presented evidence that Trump’s own White House advisers had discovered that Mr. Clark’s proposed actions, including launching investigations into the baseless conspiracy theories pushed by Mr. Trump and his allies, and directing of the letter to the state legislature urging them to undo the election. , would be illegal.
Mr. Herschmann, the former White House deputy counsel, told investigators of a select committee that Mr. Clark’s plan was “tasteless” and said his response was to tell the aspiring attorney general that it would may expose them to criminal prosecution.
“I said… f***ing a-hole… congratulations: you just admitted that your first step you would take as Attorney General would be a felony and violate rule 6-c. You are clear the right candidate for this job,” he recalls.
Clark, a veteran environmental attorney who now works for a pro-Trump think tank called the Center for Renewing America, was one of several ex-Trump executives subpoenaed to testify before the selected committee. He had initially resisted his appearance, but when he emerged under threat of a criminal referral for contempt of Congress, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination more than 100 times.
The hearing that focuses on his conduct in the days leading up to the Capitol bombing comes as the department where he once served as a senior official is now investigating his role in Mr. to remain in power against the wishes of the voters.
According to multiple reports, FBI agents raided Mr. Clark’s home on Wednesday under a search warrant.