Perry also recommended to Donoghue that Jeffrey Clark, then head of the Department of Justice’s civil division, be more involved in the DOJ’s handling of the 2020 election. Trump later viewed Clark as a replacement for the incumbent attorney general and viewed Clark more sympathetic to allegations of election fraud that were found to be unfounded.
For his part, Donoghue told the congressman he could send information about the election administration process, but added that the department had not found any outcome-altering fraud rates.
The episode is one of many discoveries detailed in the Justice Committee’s nearly 400-page interim report on its eight-month investigation into Trump’s attempts to get the DOJ to meddle in the 2020 election.
The report reveals that the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-line Conservatives with close ties to Trump, played an active role in helping the president strategize on how to undermine Joe Biden’s victory. However, the report shows that Perry, more than any other Republican in the House of Representatives, played a direct role in trying to help Trump install loyalists in the Justice Department who would help undermine the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory.
Perry’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on the Congressman’s presence in the Senate Judicial Report.
The Senate Justice Democrats recommend that the House of Representatives special committee investigating the January 6 attack engage with Perry and two other key figures: Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano and Trump’s campaign attorney Cleta Mitchell.
“These links warrant further investigation to better classify Trump’s efforts to include the DOJ in its efforts to cancel the presidential election in connection with the January 6 riot,” the judicial report concludes. “Since the January 6 events are outside the immediate purview of the committee’s investigation, this report is being made available to the House of Representatives Special Committee on the January 6 attack and the public to aid their investigation.”
The January 6 selected panel has indicated that it is interested in testimony and evidence that Republican lawmakers may have about Trump’s role in fueling the Capitol attack. However, it rarely happens that lawmakers exercise their investigative powers on their own colleagues and are likely to create significant hurdles for investigators when they enter this uncharted territory.
In a broader sense, the Senate report confirms Trump’s intense efforts to get his Department of Justice to pressure state and local officials to override the election results. Details of the effort are still being unearthed, with the judiciary continuing its work with other Congressional bodies, but Thursday’s report outlines how often Trump toured key officials overseeing election-related investigations.
“Today’s report shows the American people how close we are to a constitutional crisis. Thanks to a number of upright Americans in the Justice Department, Donald Trump was unable to submit the Department to his will, “Justice President Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said in a statement.
One key person the committee couldn’t interview was Clark. According to the report, he disagreed with the judiciary’s request for a voluntary interview.
Perry, the report said, played a key role in persuading Clark to replace acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at Trump’s DOJ.
Durbin also wrote on October 7th, urging the DC Bar to open a disciplinary investigation against Clark.
“Attorneys admitted to the DC Bar swear an oath to ‘support the United States Constitution.’ It should go without saying that attempts to undermine a free and fair election do not support the constitution, “Durbin wrote.
The publication of the interim report would not mark the end of the investigation, Durbin told reporters on Thursday.
“The purpose of the report was to get this information public. We shared it with the Select Committee in the House of Representatives, and whatever else we can think of we will do the same,” said Durbin.
However, it is unclear how much more progress the panel can make in its efforts to get Clark involved – perhaps the most flagrant failure of its investigation to date.
Clark “held us up long enough that we are skeptical that he will ever appear,” Durbin told reporters on Thursday. Any subpoena would require a bipartisan request, he said, and “we don’t have that level of cooperation from the other side.”
The Justice Republicans in the Senate released their own report Thursday, arguing that Trump listened to his advisors and had no control over the Justice Department’s investigation into the election.
The select House of Representatives panel investigating the January 6 attack also indicated that it will also investigate the Justice Department and interviewed Donoghue on Friday. The Senate body is also asking for White House documents from the national archives that it “has not yet been able to submit”.
Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.