Republican Kinzinger on 1/6 panel says DOJ was pressured by Trump administration to sow election doubt

Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue said he was told, ‘Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and Republican congressmen’

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., takes his seat as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, leading a majority of the Jan. 6 House committee hearing Thursday, said the Justice Department was asked to put its stamp of approval on voting fraud allegations former President Donald Trump knew were lies.

Testifying before the select committee Thursday, former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue said “there were isolated incidents of fraud, none of them came close to calling into question the outcome in any state.”

Donoghue said he shared this information with Trump, but the former president told him, “Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me (Trump) and Republican congressmen.” Kinzinger added Trump wanted the stamp of approval on what the former president knew were “lies.”

Kinzinger, R-Channahon, is one of two Republicans on the Jan. 6 panel, joining Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming. Kinzinger spent much of Thursday’s hearing presenting information and asking questions of witnesses Donoghue and former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

The hearing on Thursday marked the House panel’s fifth this month looking into the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress was certifying the election votes cast to make Democrat Joe Biden president.

The Illinois congressman commended Donoghue and Rosen for not following Trump’s lead.

“When the president tried to misuse the [Justice Department] and install a loyalist at its helm, these brave officials refused and threatened to resign,” Kinzinger said. “They were willing to sacrifice their careers for the good of our country.”

Kinzinger said when he returned from military service in Iraq in May of 2009 and announced his intention to run for Congress he made a commitment.

“If we are going to ask Americans to be willing to die in service to our country, we as leaders must at least be willing to sacrifice our political careers when integrity and our oath requires it,” Kinzinger said. “After all, losing your job is nothing compared to losing your life.”

Kinzinger said once Trump and political allies realized the Department of Justice was not going to fall into lockstep with his plan, “he needed to find someone who was willing to ignore the facts.” Kinzinger said the nation’s top prosecutor was being appointed based on the question of how loyal they are to the president, rather than to the Constitution.

Testimony and information presented Thursday showed Trump contemplated replacing Rosen with a lower-level official, Jeffrey Clark, who wanted to champion Trump’s unfounded allegations of voter fraud, including a meeting in which Donoghue told the former president if he appointed Clark, there would be mass Justice Department resignations. White House call logs obtained by the committee revealed by 4:19 pm Jan. 3, the White House referred to Clark as the acting attorney general.

Kinzinger said Trump wanted the Justice Department to sow doubt into the legitimacy of the election. If the department would have lent its credibility, Trump would have had justification to spread his unfounded allegations.

Among items Trump’s White House wanted investigated by the Justice Department and Department of Defense officials were a “patently absurd” conspiracy theory claiming Italy had tampered with the 2020 election.

Rosen testified he told Trump it was “so important” DOJ adhere to facts and law, that if it did not follow its role, it would be “really bad for our country,” because he said damage to federal institutions is not easy to repair.

Legislators Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Scott Perry, Louie Gohmert and Marjorie Taylor Greene asked the White House for pardons, and Jim Jordan asked about pardons, according to information presented during Thursday’s hearing. Kinzinger said the oath Congress members took needs “to mean something.”

Kinzinger also added: “The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime.”

In his closing remarks, Kinzinger said he is worried not enough has changed since Jan. 6.

“It’s now up to every American, now and in the future, to stand for truth, to reject the lies, wherever we confront them, in our towns, in our capitols, in our friendships, in our families, and at the ballot box, and within our own minds and hearts,” the congressman said.

Kinzinger said Trump was “willing to sacrifice our republic to prolong his presidency.”

“I can imagine no more dishonorable act by a president,” Kinzinger said