Elizabeth “Liz” Cheney

Opening Remarks at the Fifth Public Hearing of the January 6th Select Committee – June 23, 2022

Elizabeth “Liz” Cheney
June 23, 2022— Washington, D.C.
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Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

At this point, our Committee has just begun to show America the evidence we have gathered. There is much more to come, both in our hearings and in our report. But I’d like to take just a moment to put everything we’ve seen in context.

  • We have already seen how President Trump falsely declared victory on November 3, 2020, how he and his team launched a fraudulent media campaign that persuaded tens of millions of Americans that the election was stolen from him. Donald Trump intentionally ran false ads on television and social media – featuring allegations that his advisors and his Justice Department repeatedly told him were untrue.
  • We have also seen how Donald Trump launched a fraudulent fundraising campaign that raised hundreds of millions of dollars, again based on those same false election-fraud allegations.
  • We have seen how President Trump and his allies corruptly attempted to pressure Vice President Pence to refuse to count lawful electoral votes and obstruct Congress’ proceedings on January 6th, and how he provoked a violent mob to pursue the Vice President and others in our Capitol.
  • We have seen how the President oversaw and personally participated in an effort in multiple states to vilify, threaten and pressure election officials, and to use false allegations to pressure state legislators to change the outcome of the election.
  • We have seen how President Trump worked with and directed the Republican National Committee and others to organize an effort to create fake electoral slates, and later to transmit those materially false documents to federal officials, again as part of his planning for January 6th.
  • We have seen how President Trump persuaded tens of thousands of his supporters to travel to Washington D.C. for January 6th. And we will see in far more detail how the President’s rally and march to the Capitol were organized and choreographed.

As you can tell, these efforts were not some minor or ad hoc enterprise, concocted overnight. Each required planning and coordination. Some required significant funding. All of them were overseen by President Trump. And much more information will be presented soon regarding the President’s statements and actions on January 6th.

Today, as Chairman Thompson indicated, we turn to yet another element of the President’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, this one involving the Department of Justice. A key focus of our hearing today will be a draft letter that our witnesses here today refused to sign.

This letter was written by Mr. Jeff Clark with another Department of Justice lawyer Ken Klukowski, and the letter was to be sent to the leadership of the Georgia State legislature. Other versions of the letter were intended for other states. Neither Mr. Clark nor Mr. Klukowski had any evidence of widespread election fraud. But they were quite aware of what Mr. Trump wanted the Department to do – Jeff Clark met privately with President Trump and others in the White House, and agreed to assist the President – without telling the senior leadership of the Department who oversaw him.

As you will see, this letter claims that the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigations have “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states, including the State of Georgia.”

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

The letter also said this: [quote] “In light of these developments, the Department recommends that the Georgia General Assembly should convene in special session” [end quote] and consider approving a new slate of electors. And it indicates that a separate fake [quote] “slate of electors supporting Donald Trump” has already been “transmitted to Washington, D.C.”

For those of you who have been watching these hearings, the language of this draft Justice Department letter will sound very familiar. The text is similar to what we have seen from John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom were coordinating with President Trump to overturn the 2020 election. When one of our witnesses today, Mr. Donoghue, first saw this draft letter he wrote this: [quote] “This would be a grave step for the Department to take and it could have tremendous constitutional, political and social ramifications for the country.” [end quote] This Committee agrees.

Had this letter been released on official Department of Justice letterhead, it would have falsely informed all Americans – including those who might be inclined to come to Washington on January 6th – that President Trump’s election fraud allegations were likely very real.

Here is another observation about this letter. Look at the signature line. It was written by Jeff Clark and Mr. Klukowski not just for Clark’s signature, but also for our witnesses today, Jeff Rosen and Richard Donoghue. When it became clear that neither Mr. Rosen nor Mr. Donoghue would sign this letter, President Trump’s plan necessarily changed. As you will hear today, Donald Trump offered Mr. Clark the job of Acting Attorney General, replacing Mr. Rosen, with the understanding that Clark would send this letter to Georgia and other states, and take other actions the President requested.

One other point. Millions of Americans have seen the testimony of Attorney General Barr before this Committee. At one point in his deposition, the former Attorney General was asked why he authorized the Department of Justice to investigate fraud in the 2020 election at all. Why not just follow the regular course of action and let the investigations occur much later in time, after January 6th. Here’s what he said:

[BEGIN CLIP] FORMER AG BILL BARR: “I just felt the responsible thing to do was to be in a position to have a view as to whether or not there was fraud. And frankly, I think the fact that I put myself in the position that I could say that we had looked at this and didn’t think there was fraud was really important to moving things forward. And I sort of shudder to think what the situation would have been if the position of the Department was: “We’re not even looking at this until after Biden’s in office.” I’m not sure we would have had a transition at all.” [END CLIP]

I want to thank each of our witnesses before us today for their role in addressing and rebutting the false allegations of fraud at the root of January 6th. And thank you for standing up for the Constitution and for the rule of law.

Of course, not all public officials behaved in the honorable way our witnesses did. At the close of today’s hearing, we will see video testimony by three members of Donald Trump’s White House staff. They will identify certain of the members of Congress who contacted the White House after January 6th to seek Presidential Pardons for their conduct.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

"Cheney Opening Remarks At Select Committee’s Fifth Public Hearing." Congresswoman Liz Cheney press release, June 23, 2022. https://cheney.house.gov/2022/06/23/cheney-opening-remarks-at-select-committees-fifth-public-hearing.

"THOMPSON, CHENEY, & KINZINGER OPENING STATEMENTS AT SELECT COMMITTEE HEARING." Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol press release, June 23, 2022. https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/thompson-cheney-kinzinger-opening-statements-select-committee-hearing.