Former senior Justice Department official Richard Donoghue says he has been interviewed by special counsel Jack Smith’s office but has not been called to testify before the federal grand jury investigating Jan. 6 and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Donoghue, who confirmed the meeting with Smith’s office to NBC News on Monday, served as acting assistant attorney general near the end of the Trump administration. He later testified before the Jan. 6 House committee that he investigated the riot on Capitol Hill.
The special counsel’s office declined to provide comment to NBC News.
In testimony before the House panel last year, Donoghue said that weeks before the attack on the Capitol, Trump had urged Justice Department officials, including then-acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, to «just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and congressional Republicans.»
Donoghue and Rosen told the Jan. 6 committee that they repeatedly rejected Trump’s efforts and that he later threatened to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, an ally who had penned a letter casting doubt on the 2020 election results and urging states to certify bogus voter lists.
The chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., called Trump’s efforts, as Donoghue described it at the time, «a brazen attempt to use the Justice Department to further the president’s personal political agenda.»
Donoghue also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in August 2021, and was asked about a video circulated after the 2020 election by then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, which alleged that intelligence agencies had used Italian military satellites to shift votes in the election.
“Some of them were pretty far-fetched, like this one,” Donoghue said, according to a report. interview transcript. «And when I looked at the video, I think it was a 20-minute YouTube video or something, it seemed pretty strange to me, partly because it was so conclusive and didn’t really offer evidence.»
Donoghue, who is now in private practicecalled the video «pure insanity» in an email to Rosen.
The former president and his allies have repeatedly accused the Biden administration of arming the Justice Department amid Trump’s legal woes, which have so far resulted in two indictments: one by a New York City grand jury focused on hush money payments he allegedly made during his 2016 campaign and the other a federal case stemming from his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.
Trump said last week that he had received a letter from Smith informing him that he is the subject of an investigation by a federal grand jury investigating the January 6 riots and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.