Yes, we heard him correctly! Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chair of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, opened today's 5th day of public hearings by noting that Donald Trump tried to "steal" the 2020 election! Finally, as noted on today's BradCast Special Coverage, we're getting somewhere! Let's see if the rest of the media is still as allergic to using the correct word for the crime that Trump and his supporters hoped to pull off! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Before we get to our Special Coverage today, we've got a few too-brief words on today's unelected, rogue, corrupt, stolen and packed 6 to 3 Republican US Supreme Court majority undermining states' rights to "well-regulate" the carrying of firearms in public in their own states, and undercutting Miranda rights for those detained by law enforcement.
Then, it's on to another harrowing day of the House J6 Committee's gripping hearings, detailing Trump's unrelenting and virtually psychotic attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election from the American people. Today's hearing focused on his failed attempt to decapitate the remaining leadership at the U.S. Department of Justice after his own Attorney General Bill Barr resigned in response to the loser Trump's repeated and knowingly false claims that Joe Biden only defeated him thanks to massive, if apparently evidence-free, fraud.
The DoJ scheme involved replacing Trump's Acting Attorney General with a low-level apparatchik named Jeffrey Clark who agreed to do Trump's bidding. The plot came within a hair's breadth of overthrowing the entire American government. It was only the promise of hundreds of top DoJ officials resigning en masse that ultimately forced Trump to relent.
Three of those top officials, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, his acting Deputy AG Richard Donoghue, and former Asst. AG in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Steve Engel, testified live on Thursday under questioning by Illinois' Republican Rep. Adam Kinziger, who detailed just "how close we came to losing it all."
The panel laid out in detail how the DoJ (as well as DHS and DoD) were relentlessly directed by Trump, over and again, to investigate every absurd, easily-debunked conspiracy theory dredged up by rightwing MAGA Internet clowns. From false claims about Dominion voting systems to false claims about truckloads of shredded ballots to false claims about Italian military satellites and Chinese-made smart thermostats flipping votes from Trump to Biden.
Nevertheless, Trump's apparatchik Clark was willing to do Trump's bidding. He drafted a letter to send to swing-state legislatures falsely instructing them that the Department had found massive fraud that would change the results of the elections, directing their state legislatures to reconvene to choose electors for Trump instead of Biden. Rosen and Donoghue, to their credit, testified that they refused to sign the bogus letter, and then detailed how Trump schemed to fire Rosen and replace him with Clark, who had never even tried a criminal case, as the DoJ's chief. It all culminated in the infamous, hours-long, January 3rd, 2021, Celebrity Apprentice-style Oval Office showdown where both Rosen and Clark made their cases. Rosen's was backed up by the entire leadership at DoJ (as well as White House Counsel), who vowed to leave if Trump pulled the trigger and fired Rosen. That would have resulted in an unprecedented Constitutional crisis just days before the joint session of Congress to confirm Biden's victory.
And, after all of that, Kinzinger noted at the end of today's hearing, Trump still went out to his rally on the Ellipse on January 6th and repeated all of the long-ago debunked claims of fraud, inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Today's hearing began just moments after CNN reported that Clark's home had been raided by the FBI before dawn on Wednesday. So, it would seem, the current Dept. of Justice is actually on the case.
We're delighted to be joined today by two fantastic guests, one of whom is a former DoJ Attorney with a great deal of insight into DoJ procedures and the harrowing testimony offered today. LISA GRAVES, who is now Executive Director of the research firm True North Research, served as Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Dept during the Clinton Administration and into the peaceful transition to George W Bush's Administration. She then became Chief Counsel for nominations in the U.S. Senate and a Deputy Chief for the US Court system. HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, our anchor guest during all of the hearings to date, is the beloved proprietor of her long-running Hullabaloo blog and an award-winning contributor at Salon.
Graves is a font of insight regarding the way the DoJ is supposed to work and just how wildly dysfunctional, inappropriate --- and most likely criminal --- the actions of both Trump and Clark were during the disgraced former President's final days attempting to cling to power.
Clark, she argues, "is a man who was willing to bend any law in order to serve the political agenda of this President, and is exactly the type of person who should never be entrusted with any position of power or public trust. He clearly is someone who is more than willing to set aside facts and law. What we see is this man at the center of a criminal conspiracy, in my view, and the [former] President is at the helm of that conspiracy."
As Parton notes today, the "the Constitutional crisis that everyone was hinting at [was] in retrospect, a very close thing," as Trump was trying to "overthrow the government" just three weeks before the inauguration. But Trump's ultimate, begrudging decision to not fire Rosen and replace him with Clark means that "Trump was not irrational. He did know what he was doing." And that, she observes, is "a new and interesting data point" to come out of today's hearings.
Also coming out of today's hearings, a list of six Republican members of Congress who apparently recognized that their involvement in this criminal conspiracy could land them in prison. So much so that they unsuccessfully sought pardons from Trump before he left office. Among those named by former White House officials as seeking pardons: Reps. Mo Brooks (AL), Matt Gaetz (FL), Scott Perry (PA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Andy Biggs (AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA).
We've got much more smart insight and analysis in today's Special Coverage. Please tune in!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)