Trump White House lobbied Justice Department over election allegations in emails
WASHINGTON – The House Oversight Committee released email exchanges on Tuesday that shed new light on Trump’s failed White House efforts to get the Justice Department to investigate baseless allegations of voter fraud in the weeks leading up to President Biden’s inauguration.
Among the communications was one from former President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who on January 1 provided the Justice Department with a YouTube link referring to unsubstantiated allegations that people in Italy have allegedly manipulated the results of the American elections. A senior justice official at the time, Richard Donoghue, had two words for it: “Pure Insanity”.
The then Acting Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen, replied to Mr. Donoghue, his deputy: “Yes”, adding that he had refused a request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to meet with someone working with the lawyer. from Mr Trump, Rudy Giuliani, who claimed to have evidence of the claims.
“When asked if I would reconsider my decision, I categorically refused, said that I would not accord any special treatment to Giuliani or any of his ‘witnesses’, and I once reiterated furthermore that I will not speak to Giuliani about anything, ”Mr Rosen wrote. who had taken over the department six days earlier after Attorney General William Barr resigned under pressure from Mr. Trump.
Mr Giuliani said through a lawyer: “The DOJ has done a scared disappearance act on any allegation of electoral fraud. They announced that there was none without an investigation.
In another post the same day, Mr. Meadows asked Mr. Rosen to look into the allegations of “signature match discrepancies” in Fulton County, Georgia. Mr. Rosen relayed the message to Mr. Donoghue, adding, “Can you believe it? I will not respond to the message below. Mr Barr had said, and other officials agreed, that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election that would have altered the results.
Two days later, after senior Justice Department officials, including Mr. Rosen, visited the White House to discuss the allegations, an official relayed to his colleagues: “It appears Rosen and the cause of justice have won “. The head of the Department of Justice’s national security division, John Demers, agreed, responding: “Unbelievable”.
Other emails confirm that Mr. Trump wanted the Justice Department to ask the Supreme Court to overturn President Biden’s victory and shed new light on the brutal resignation of the American lawyer from Atlanta in early January.
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Mr. Trump pressured Justice Department officials to file what they saw as an unfounded lawsuit in the Supreme Court, and White House officials had forced the American attorney in Atlanta to resign because Mr. Trump was upset. he was not doing enough to investigate the president’s unproven allegations of electoral fraud.
“These documents show President Trump attempted to bribe our nation’s main law enforcement agency in a brazen attempt to overturn an election he lost,” said Carolyn Maloney (D., NY) , who chairs the committee that published the documents.
The published documents include an email from the White House to Mr. Rosen and Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall who attached a draft brief brought by outside lawyer Kurt B. Olsen asking the Supreme Court to quash the election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada, all states that Mr. Biden has carried.
“The President has asked me to send the attached draft document,” Oval Office Coordinator Molly Michael wrote in the cover letter, adding that Mr. Meadows and White House attorney Pat Cipollone also received copies.
Neither Mr. Rosen nor Mr. Wall appear to have responded, prompting Mr. Olsen to make increasingly frantic efforts to reach them.
In a Dec. 29 email to Mr. Wall, Mr. Olsen said he represented the state of Texas in its unsuccessful efforts to have the Supreme Court overturn Biden’s victories in multiple states. “Last night the President asked me to meet with AG Rosen to discuss a similar action to be brought by the United States,” Mr. Olsen wrote. “I could not reach him despite several calls / texts. This is an urgent matter. “
Mr. Wall declined to comment. Mr. Olsen did not respond to a request for comment.
The emails also show that a Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, had expressed willingness to use the department’s power to help Mr. Trump continue his legal battles to challenge the election results. On January 2, for example, Mr. Clark, who was then head of the ministry’s civilian division, told Mr. Rosen in an email with the subject line “atlanta”: “I spoke to the source and I’m with the guy. who took the video right now. I’m working on it. More due diligence to be done.
Mr Clark did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
During his last few weeks in office, Mr. Trump had considered replacing Mr. Rosen with Mr. Clark. This did not happen because other senior Justice Department officials threatened to resign en masse if Mr. Trump fired Mr. Rosen, according to the Journal and other previously reported publications.
Prior to that, on January 1, Mr. Rosen had sent Mr. Clark the phone number of US attorney in Atlanta, Byung J. Pak. On the evening of January 3, after the White House meeting, Mr. Donoghue sent an urgent message to Mr. Pak at 10:09 pm: “Please call as soon as possible. The next morning at 7.46 am, Mr. Pak announced to his colleagues that he was resigning and said that serving as a US lawyer had been “the greatest honor of my professional career.” Mr. Donoghue replied, “You are a class act, my friend. Thank you.”
—Sadie Gurman contributed to this article.
Corrections and amplifications
An earlier version of this article misspelled White House lawyer Pat Cipollone’s last name as Cippilone and in one case misspelled the last name of former Justice Department official Richard Donoghue as Donaghue.
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