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Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen testified June 23 at the fifth public hearing of the Jan. 6 committee about the pressure President Donald Trump put on him and others to overturn the results of the 2020 election, saying he was concerned that Trump’s efforts would have put the Justice Department in a position where its actions “were not consistent with the truth.”
Rosen was acting attorney general under Trump during the final days of his presidency, replacing Attorney General William Barr when Barr resigned in December 2020.
Rosen has testified in closed-door meetings with the committee and also cooperated with the Senate Judiciary investigation. He testified June 23 with his former deputy, Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, a former assistant attorney general.
After Trump lost the election, he pressured Department of Justice officials, including Rosen, to help him overturn the results. That included telling them, “just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen,” according to a Senate Judiciary report.
READ MORE: Who are the witnesses testifying at the Jan. 6 hearings?
Another Department of Justice lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, concocted a plan for the department to send letters to states Trump lost, instructing them to appoint an alternate slate of electors who would vote for Trump. Clark outlined the plan to Trump, who threatened to replace Rosen with Clark unless Rosen signed his name to the letters and sent them, according to the report.
At the June 23 hearing, Rosen explained in great detail how the president repeatedly contacted him and other department officials with false claims of voter fraud, and how he regularly debunked those claims and explained their inauthenticity.
Between Rosen’s appointment as acting attorney general on Dec. 23, 2020, and Jan. 5, 2021, Trump contacted him “virtually every day” expressing his “dissatisfaction” that the Justice Department hadn’t done enough to investigate voter fraud, Rosen testified.
Trump asked him to appoint a special counsel to investigate election fraud, meet with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, file a lawsuit in the Supreme Court, make public statements or hold a press conference about election fraud, and send a letter to state legislatures, Rosen said.
“I will say that the Justice Department declined all of those requests … because we did not think that they were appropriate based on the facts and the law as we understood them,” Rosen testified.
WATCH: Jan. 6 committee hearings – Day 5
Rosen said that during every conversation, he explained that what Trump wanted was not part of the department’s purview. For a similar reason, Rosen said he refused to meet with Trump campaign officials, saying that would not be appropriate.
Meanwhile, Clark had been meeting with the president and validating his false claims of fraud despite Rosen’s direct orders against this, Rosen testified. When Rosen and Donoghue refused to sign a letter Clark wanted to send to states, instructing them to find an alternate slate of electors, Clark told Rosen that Trump wanted to make Clark acting attorney general, replacing Rosen.
At the June 23 hearing, Rosen explained to the committee why he didn’t want Clark in his role.
“It wasn’t about me. There’s only 17 days left in the administration. At that point, I would have been perfectly content to have either of the gentlemen on my left or right replace me if anybody wanted to do that,” Rosen said, gesturing to Engel and Donoghue. “But I did not want for the Department of Justice to be put in a posture where it would be doing things that were not consistent with the truth, were not consistent with its own appropriate role or were not consistent with the Constitution.”
Ultimately, Trump decided not to replace Rosen with Clark.
On the day of the Jan. 6 attack, Rosen said he spoke with various members of Congress, Vice President Mike Pence and members of his own department, but not Trump.
For more on the key players in the Jan. 6 committee hearings, click here.
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