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Kinzinger says Jan. 6 committee will show evidence that lawmakers sought pardons from Trump

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Washington — Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the Republicans who sits on the House select committee examining the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, said Sunday that the panel will unveil evidence in upcoming hearings that Republican members of Congress sought pardons from former President Donald Trump in his final weeks in office.

“We’re not going to make accusations or say things without proof or evidence backing it,” Kinzinger, of Illinois, said in an interview with “Face the Nation” when asked about the revelation last week that GOP lawmakers sought presidential pardons.

Last Thursday, the House select committee held the first of at least six public hearings expected across June, which mark a new phase in the panel’s investigation into the events leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2021. During the proceedings last week, committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, revealed “multiple” GOP congressmen sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Cheney named Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania as one of the Republicans who sought a pardon from Trump, though he denied doing so and called the notion “an absolute, shameless, and soulless lie.”

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Investigators believe Perry was involved in efforts to install Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who was a key figure in raising doubts about the integrity of the election with Trump, as acting attorney general in the weeks after the November 2020 election. The committee last month issued a subpoena to Perry and four other Republican lawmakers for testimony, though they have all declined to comply.

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Kinzinger, like Cheney last week, declined to divulge how many Republicans sought pardons but said the committee will release more information about those efforts during hearings this week.

“Why would you ask for a pardon? Let’s just say in general, if somebody asks for a pardon it would be because they have real concern that maybe they’ve done something illegal,” he said.

In addition to the details of the pardons, Kinzinger said the hearing scheduled for Wednesday will also explore efforts to overturn the election results that involved the Justice Department.

“You saw a president that spreads misinformation, tries to install his own people in the Justice Department to do his bidding. Justice, which is supposed to be representative of all of us, pressures the vice president, and then eventually when he can’t get his way, he tries to pressure Congress through not just public pressure, but in a public attack,” he said.

Kinzinger warned that if Trump gets elected again, he has “zero doubt” that the former president will install people loyal to him in his Cabinet and the White House.

“I think it’s important for us as a country to recognize that, to recognize the importance that the oath to the United States plays,” he said. “We could pass any law in this country, but if we have people in power, whether it’s in politics or law enforcement or the military, if we have any people that are unwilling to put their oath above any loyalty to a person, no law matters.”

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In addition to revealing that some GOP lawmakers sought pardons from Trump, the House select committee played testimony from top Trump administration officials during Thursday’s hearing, including Attorney General Bill Barr and White House senior adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump, who said they did not believe the 2020 election was rife with fraud.

Kinzinger said the committee has learned many people around Trump told him there was no evidence of widespread fraud, and the panel will detail more in the future about how those close to the former president did not believe the election was stolen, yet perpetuated the lie to keep Trump in power.

“The president absolutely tried to overthrow the will of the people, and he tried to do it initially through misinformation, through the Department of Justice, through pressuring the vice president, and then on Jan. 6,” he said. “He was told repeatedly by people that he trusted, that he respected, folks around him, that the election wasn’t stolen, that there is no corroborating proof of any kind of a stealing or any kind of corruption that would change the outcome. I think it’s pretty obvious he knew but he didn’t want to lose.”

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