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Jan. 6 Capitol riot probe: Trump DOJ hearing postponed

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Empty chairs are seen before the opening public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the USA Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 9, 2022.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is postponing its third hearing, which was scheduled on Wednesday and was expected to detail how former President Donald Trump allegedly pushed the Department of Justice to spread his false claims that the 2020 election was rigged against him.

Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and ex-DOJ officials Richard Donoghue and Steve Engel were expected to testify in person on the hearing, NBC News reported, citing Rosen’s attorney.

The committee hasn’t set a recent date for the hearing, however it’s already scheduled to carry a separate hearing on Thursday, the committee said.

It was unclear from the panel’s statement whether those witnesses will likely be moved to Thursday or one other date, and a spokesperson for the committee didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

The committee kicked off a series of seven hearings Thursday detailing its initial findings from an almost yearlong investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, when a violent mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The riot sent members of Congress fleeing for safety and delayed lawmakers from confirming President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

The nine-member panel seeks to point out that Trump is chiefly guilty for the riot by placing him at the middle of a multi-pronged conspiracy to overturn his loss within the 2020 election.

On Monday, the committee released details that focused heavily on the big range of election-fraud conspiracies that Trump and a few of his allies seized on and spread widely to attempt to persuade the general public that the election was stolen.

The committee played a lengthy series of clips from interviews with former Trump officials, including former Attorney General William Barr, who repeatedly told the previous president that he lost to Biden legitimately and warned Trump against making meritless claims of fraud.

“I told him that it was crazy stuff they usually were wasting their time on that and it was doing a grave disservice to the country,” Barr told investigators.

“I used to be somewhat demoralized, because I assumed, boy, if he really believes these things, he has lost contact with — he’s change into detached from reality if he really believes these things,” Barr said at one other point. “There was never a sign of interest in what the actual facts were.”

The now-postponed hearing on Wednesday was alleged to show how Trump tried to “corruptly” wield the DOJ as a part of his bid to challenge the 2020 election, and the way the agency’s leaders pushed back on him, committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said last week.

Cheney, one among two Republicans on the panel, suggested that hearing would detail Trump’s try to install Jeffrey Clark, a DOJ lawyer, as acting attorney general and have him send letters to key states falsely claiming that the federal government has found evidence that might impact the election results.

The hearing would reveal how top officials within the DOJ threatened to resign and confronted Trump and Clark within the Oval Office, Cheney said.

She also suggested that the hearing would shed recent light on efforts by some Republican lawmakers to secure presidential pardons “for his or her roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.” She has already named Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., who allegedly tried to get Clark promoted. Perry has refused to testify before the committee.

It’s unclear whether the subject at Thursday’s hearing will likely be the DOJ, or whether the committee will move on to its next scheduled area of focus: how Trump pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject Electoral College votes.

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