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House committee turns key Trump DOJ official questioning over to Jan. 6 panel, sidelining GOP

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The House Oversight Committee canceled scheduled questioning of two key Justice Department officials about former President Donald Trump’s final days in office, sending them to the Democratic-controlled select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former acting Deputy Attorney Richard Donoghue, two key figures in investigations into Trump’s handling of election challenges and encouraging Justice Department investigations, had been scheduled for interviews with the House Oversight Committee, a Republican aide confirmed to the Washington Examiner. But those were postponed on Thursday and will be taken over by the Jan. 6 panel.

Republicans on the Oversight Committee are reeling. Had Rosen and Donoghue been questioned by the committee, Republican staff or members could have questioned them or provided a sort of check on Democratic questioning. The Jan. 6 committee has two Republicans, both of whom were selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on staff.

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"By canceling the Oversight interviews, where Republican Members and staff have equal time to question witnesses, Pelosi is trying to ensure none of these witnesses can be cross-examined, so Democrats can continue to push forward their one-sided partisan narrative," House Oversight Committee ranking member Rep. James Comer of Kentucky told the Washington Examiner in a statement.

“It just underscores what we've said now for several weeks, frankly, for months, that this is all politics for the Democrats,” Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the Oversight Committee who was originally recommended to sit on the Jan. 6 panel, told the Washington Examiner on Friday.

“It's just good to be there,” Jordan said, noting that he’s sat in many congressional depositions and interviews on various matters, such as the IRS targeting conservatives, the Trump-Russia investigation, and the Benghazi investigation. “I was just wanting to be there, have some of our key staff and lawyers there. As you go through this, what's typically a several-hour process, and then as you go through, as questions come up, there's things you want to clarify. There's things you want to get on the record. That's not going to happen now, from a Republican perspective, because we're not allowed to participate.”

The only two Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee, vocal Trump critics Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, were appointed to the post by Pelosi. No Republican-appointed members sit on the committee after Pelosi vetoed two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks, Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jordan, prompting McCarthy to pull all of his recommendations and not participate in the process.

Asked whether Cheney and Kinzinger could provide some kind of Republican balance during questioning, Jordan said: “Like I said, we're not going to have Republicans in these depositions or transcribed interviews.”

A spokesman for the Jan. 6 select committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“From the very beginning, House Democrats have been determined to drive a narrative demonizing Donald Trump and all who support him,” Georgia Rep. Jody Hice, another Republican member of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “Speaker Pelosi, however, is clearly terrified that Oversight Republicans would expose her witchhunt investigation as the partisan hit job that it is — and she's confident that her Select Committee will produce whatever conclusion she wants! If Democrats really wanted to get to the truth, they would allow us to do our jobs.”

The shift from the Oversight Committee to the Jan. 6 committee marks an abrupt shift in how the House is handling investigations into Trump’s election claims. Earlier this week, Patrick Hovakimian, former chief of staff to Rosen at the Justice Department, spoke to committee staff in a closed-door session. It is also an indication that the committee will focus heavily on any Trump responsibility for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

At the same time, those in charge of parallel Senate inquiries into Jan. 6 and Trump are not locking Republicans out of the process. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on MSNBC Thursday that his committee is “going to be interviewing key witnesses in the next few days,” focusing on the Justice Department. “It will be a bipartisan effort. We want Republicans to be part of it,” Durbin said.

The House Oversight Committee has already done extensive work looking into the top Department of Justice officials. Last week, it released handwritten notes from Donoghue detailing a call he had with Trump and Rosen on Dec. 27.

“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R Congressmen,” Trump said, according to the notes. "We have an obligation to tell people that this was an illegal, corrupt election."

The notes record Rosen saying on the call: “Understand that the DOJ can’t + won’t snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way.”

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Emails released earlier in June indicated that Trump wanted the Justice Department to pursue challenges to the 2020 election and pursue claims about Dominion voting machines, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows forwarding emails to Rosen, asking him to investigate fringe election theories.

Hovakimian also drafted a resignation letter for himself and Donoghue that he never sent, but was prepared as Trump considered firing Rosen, that accused Trump of issuing “direct instructions to utilize the Department of Justice’s law enforcement powers for improper ends.”

Jordan argued that the recently released documents were not cause for alarm, saying that it is “standard practice” for people running federal agencies to have prewritten resignation letters and that it is normal for a chief of staff to forward various concerns to other agencies.

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Tags: News, January 6, January 6 Commission, House Oversight, Congress, Jim Jordan, Department of Justice, Jeffrey Rosen, Donald Trump

Original Author: Emily Brooks

Original Location: House committee turns key Trump DOJ official questioning over to Jan. 6 panel, sidelining GOP

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