Elections

DOJ Official: Trump Asked Top Lawyers To ‘Just Say The Election Was Corrupt’ And ‘Leave The Rest To Me’

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Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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Former President Donald Trump asked top lawyers at the Justice Department (DOJ) to declare the 2020 election “corrupt,” and threatened to replace them if they did not do so, according to notes taken by then-Acting Deputy Attorney (DAG) General Richard P. Donoghue.

Donoghue and then-Acting Attorney General (AG) Jeffrey Rosen spoke with Trump by phone on Dec. 27, 2020, the notes released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform show. Rosen replaced Bill Barr as AG on Dec. 23, following reports that Trump was disappointed in Barr’s refusal to announce a special counsel investigation into alleged election fraud. Barr had privately described the allegations as “all bullshit.”

Rosen attempted to explain to Trump that “the DOJ can’t [and] won’t snap its fingers [and] change the outcome of the election,” according to the notes.

I “don’t expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the R[epublican] Congressmen,” Trump reportedly responded.

Trump also promoted conspiracy theories about vote counts in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, and Detroit, Michigan, during the call, according to the notes. A Pennsylvania judge rejected a lawsuit requesting that he block the state legislature from certifying vote totals.

The lawsuit relied on “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations,” the judge, Matthew Brann, wrote. (RELATED: Trump Team’s Allegations Of Widespread Fraud Are Not Supported By Their Own Lawsuits)

Trump’s legal team later dropped a lawsuit challenging Michigan’s vote tally.

In response to skepticism from Donoghue and Rosen, Trump reportedly said, “You guys may not be following the internet the way I do.”

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 07: U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue speaks during a press conference detailing the criminal charges filed against a Long Island tech firm on illegal importation of Chinese surveillance equipment on November 7, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Trump also reportedly threatened to remove Donoghue and Rosen from their posts, telling them, “People tell me Jeff Clark is great, I should put him in. People want me to replace DOJ leadership.”

Jeffrey Clark was Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the DOJ’s Civil Division. He discussed ways of casting doubt on Georgia’s election totals with Trump, The New York Times reported in January. (RELATED: DOJ Watchdog Investigating Whether Trump Officials Tried To ‘Alter The Outcome’ Of 2020 Election)

“These handwritten 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,” Democratic New York Rep. and Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said in a press release.  “The Committee has begun scheduling interviews with key witnesses to investigate the full extent of the former President’s corruption, and I will exercise every tool at my disposal to ensure all witness testimony is secured without delay.”

Trump later engaged in a similar phone call with Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump told Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes,” and repeatedly promoted the conspiracy theory that Fulton County, which Joe Biden won by 244,204 votes, shredded ballots. The Washington Post released a full transcript and audio recording of the call.

The Oversight Committee is requesting that Donoghue, Rosen, Clark, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung Jin Pak and Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Bobby Christine appear for interviews to discuss Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.