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Live updates: Jan. 6 hearings day 5 – CNN

Committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney said a key focus of the hearing today will be a draft letter written by Jeffrey Clark, then the department’s top energy lawyer who had pushed Trump’s fraud claims.

The letter was intended to be sent to the Georgia state legislature, Cheney said, adding other versions of the letter would also go to other states despite Clark having any evidence of the election fraud he was claiming.

“But they were quite aware of what Mr. Trump wanted the department to do,” Cheney said.

The draft of the letter, as shown by the committee, claims the Department of Justice investigations have “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states, including the State of Georgia.”

The letter recommended Georgia convene a special session and consider approving a new slate of electors.

“In fact, Donald Trump knew this was a lie. The Department of Justice had informed the President of the United States, repeatedly, that its investigations had found no fraud sufficient to overturn the results of the 2020 election,” Cheney said.

In addition to Clark’s signature, there was also a place for the acting attorney general and the acting deputy attorney general to sign, according to exhibits shown by the committee.

Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general at the time, and Richard Donoghue, the acting deputy attorney general, refused to sign the letter, Cheney said.

Both Rosen and Donoghue are testifying at the hearing on Thursday.

“This would be a grave step for the department to take,” Donoghue wrote when he saw the letter, according to Cheney.

“Jeff Clark met privately with President Trump and others in the White House and agreed to assist the President without telling the senior leadership in the department who oversaw him,” Cheney said.

Some background: Trump’s push to get the Justice Department to verify his false election claims began what was a tumultuous period at the department in the lead-up to Jan. 6, 2021. When Rosen and Donoghue resisted these pushes from Trump and his allies, the then-President considered replacing Rosen with Clark.

The DOJ officials, along with lawyers in the White House counsel’s office, took part in a dramatic Jan. 3, 2021, meeting in the Oval Office with Clark and Rosen present, where Trump ultimately backed away from his plan to install Clark as the head of the Justice Department — after Rosen, Donoghue and Engel had threatened to resign in protest.

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