- Trump reportedly pushed the top two DOJ officials to call the election “corrupt” without evidence.
- “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me,” Trump told the officials.
- They told Trump “much of the info you’re getting is false,” according to one official’s notes.
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President Donald Trump pressured the top two Department of Justice officials in December to publicly announce that the 2020 election was “corrupt,” despite the department’s conclusion that there was no evidence to support the claim, The New York Times reported Friday.
On December 27, Trump called then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, and urged them to “just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me,” according to a contemporaneous memo Donoghue wrote summarizing the conversation. The DOJ provided Donoghue’s notes to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and they were also obtained by The Times.
According to the report, Rosen and Donoghue pushed back and told Trump that “much of the info you’re getting is false” and that his allegations of widespread voter fraud “don’t pan out.” Donoghue wrote that this came after the DOJ conducted “dozens of investigations” and “hundreds of interviews” related to the allegations and found no evidence of widespread election malfeasance.
Specifically, Rosen and Donoghue told Trump on the call that ballot-counting errors in Michigan were a tiny fraction of what he believed and that allegations of ballot tampering in Pennsylvania and voter fraud in Georgia weren’t supported by any evidence.
Donoghue wrote that he told Trump the “DOJ can’t and won’t snap it’s fingers and change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way,” the report said.
But Trump resisted, saying that “nobody trusts the FBI” and many Americans are “angry” and “blaming DOJ for inaction.”
“You guys may not be following the internet the way I do,” Trump said, according to Donoghue’s notes.
Attorney General William Barr told reporters on December 1, more than three weeks before Trump’s phone call with Rosen and Donoghue: “We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Barr also alluded to Trump and his allies’ repeated efforts to use the DOJ to swing the election in his favor, telling The Associated Press: “There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and people don’t like something they want the Department of Justice to come in and ‘investigate.'”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the oversight committee, said Donoghue’s notes “show that President Trump directly instructed our nation’s top law enforcement agency to take steps to overturn a free and fair election in the final days of his presidency.”
The DOJ turned Donoghue’s notes over to the committee as part of its investigation into Trump’s myriad efforts to use the levers of power to take back the White House after Joe Biden won the presidential election. Despite Trump’s continued insistence that the election was “rigged” and stolen from him, nonpartisan experts and election officials concluded that the 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history.