WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump lobbied senior Justice Department officials late final year to declare the election corrupt, even though they found no cases of widespread fraud, so he and his congressional allies could use that assertion to try to overturn the decision. The findings, according to unused documents submitted to lawmakers and obtained by The New York Times.
The demands were an unusual example of a chief meddling in an agency usually more self-reliant of the White House to advance his personal agenda. It is also the latest example of Trump’s widespread campaign during his final weeks in office to delegitimize the election results.
The exchange was revealed during a Dec. 27. Trump lobbied the then acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, over allegations of electoral fraud that the department refuted. Donoghue was warned that the ministry had no authority to alter the outcome of the election. Trump responded that he did not expect that, according to notes Donoghue memorialized the conversation.
Donoghue wrote, summarizing Trump’s response: “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and congressional allies.
Trump did not name the representatives, but at other points during the call, he mentioned the MP. Jim Jordan, R.O., who called him a “fighter”; re come back. Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, who at the time promoted the idea that the election was stolen from Trump; And Monday. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, who was praised by Trump for getting to “the heart of things.”
Jordan and Johnson have denied any role in Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department.
said Russell Day, a spokesman for Jordan, who voted to nullify election results in key states, but played down his role in the president’s lobbying campaigns. “He continues to agree with President Trump that it is entirely appropriate to hoist concerns about the integrity of the elections,” he added.
His spokesman, Alexa Henning, said Johnson “has not had any conversations with President Trump about the Justice Department’s questioning of the election results.” She noted that he recognized Joe Biden as president-elect, but also called for a packed investigation and treatment of what he sees as electoral irregularities to restore confidence in coming elections.
Perry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. He continued to emphasize Trump’s triumph but was not directly linked to the White House’s efforts to preserve him in office.
The Justice Department has submitted Donoghue’s notes to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating the Trump administration’s efforts to illegally reverse election results.
Typically, the department has struggled to preserve secret any accounts of private discussions between the president and his cabinet to avoid setting a precedent that would forbid officials in coming administrations from explicitly advising presidents lest their conversations be published later.
But the delivery of the memos to Congress is part of a pattern that allows examination of Trump’s efforts to nullify the election. Biden’s Justice Department also told Rosen, Donoghue and other previous officials this week that they can provide unrestricted testimony to investigators with the House Oversight and Reform Committee and Senate Judiciary Committees.
The department concluded that congressional investigators were examining conceivable wrongdoing by the incumbent president, an distinguished circumstance, according to letters sent to the previous officials. The department concluded that because executive privilege is intended to benefit the state rather than the president as an individual, invoking it over Trump’s efforts to advance his personal agenda would not be appropriate.
“These handwritten notes show that President Trump directly instructed our nation’s highest law enforcement agency to take steps to nullify free and sincere elections in the final days of his presidency,” the representative said. Caroline Maloney, DNY, chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said in a statement.
Trump’s conversation with Rosen and Donoghue reflected his singular focus on overturning the election results. At one point, Trump claimed election fraud in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona, which he called “corrupt elections.” Donoghue was pushed back.
“A lot of the information you’re getting is mistaken,” Donoghue said, adding that the department had conducted “dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews,” and had not found evidence to support his claims. According to the notes, officials told Trump, “We’re looking at the allegations, but they’re not getting out.”
The department found Michigan’s vote count error rate was 0.0063%, not the 68% confirmed by the president; found no evidence of the conspiracy theory that a Pennsylvania state employee had tampered with the ballot; After examining the video and interviewing witnesses, it found no evidence of ballot fraud in Fulton County, Georgia, according to the notes.
Trump, unchecked, ignored the department’s findings. “Okay, but what about the others?” Donoghue wrote in his diaries describing the president’s remarks. Trump asked Donoghue to travel to Fulton County to check signatures on the ballot papers.
Trump told officials that people “who say the election is not corrupt are corrupt,” adding that they need to act. “There is not much time left.”
At another point, Donoghue said the department could quickly verify or contradict the assertion that more votes were cast in Pennsylvania than voters.
“You should be competent to quickly verify this, but you must understand that the Department of Justice cannot and will not tap its fingers and change the outcome of the election, it does not work that way,” Donoghue wrote in his diary.
Officials also told Trump that the Justice Department had no evidence to support a lawsuit related to the election results. They said, “We are not in an evidence-based position.” “We can only act on the actual evidence that has been developed.”
Trump criticized officials, saying that “thousands of people” have called local US attorneys’ offices to complain about the election and that “no one trusts the FBI.” “People are angry – they blame the Department of Justice for inaction,” he said.
According to the document, Trump said, “You probably don’t succeed the Internet the way I do.”
In a moment of ultimatum, Trump said, “People told me Jeff Clarke is cool, I should put him down,” referring to the acting head of the Justice Department’s civilian division, who has also encouraged department officials to meddle in the election. “People want me to replace the leadership of the Department of Justice.”
“You must have the leadership you want,” Donoghue replied. But it “will not change the department’s position.”
Donoghue and Rosen did not know that Perry had introduced Clark and Trump. Exactly one week later, they will have to fight Clark for their jobs in the confront of the Oval Office.
During the call, Trump also asked Justice Department officials to “see what to do” with Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. “People will criticize the Department of Justice if he is not really investigated,” he told them, violating longstanding guidelines against White House interference in criminal investigations or other law enforcement actions.
Two days following the phone call with Trump, Donoghue took notes of a meeting between Justice Department officials: Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows; White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone; He met White House Deputy Counsel Patrick Philbin to discuss the conspiracy theory known as Italygate, which asserts without evidence that people in Italy used military technology to remotely tamper with voting machines in the United States.
Justice Department officials told the White House that they assigned someone to look into the matter, according to the notes and a person familiar with the meeting. The person said they did not mention that the department was looking into the theory to debunk it.