Former President Trump’s efforts to overturn election results late last year by putting pressure on Justice Department officials could be worse than initially thought according to new documents available and a New York Times report.
In a phone conversation with Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard P. Donoghue and former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Trump suggested the election should be declared corrupt despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud. This new the information was made public on Friday when the Oversight and Reform Committee released handwritten notes from Deputy Attorney General Donoghue documenting the conversation and helping To fill in the blanks concerning Trump’s efforts to overturn election results.
The phone conversation in question took place on December 27, 2020 and largely consisted of Donoghue and Rosen informing Trump that they were unable to change the election result in his favor. According to Donoghue’s notes, Trump reportedly responded by saying, “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the [Republican] Members of Congress.
Although Trump and other Republican politicians have spent weeks denouncing election fraud and cultivating general distrust, their claims are ultimately not substantiated.
In fact, it was widely regarded as one of the safest elections in U.S. history, as Vox’s Jen Kirby reported shortly after the election,
“The November 3 election was the safest in American history. Right now, election officials across the country are reviewing and rechecking the entire electoral process before finalizing the outcome, ”Electoral Infrastructure and Security Coordination Bodies said in a joint statement released by Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security. Agency (CISA).
The statement directly contradicts President Donald Trump, who has made unfounded allegations of widespread voting irregularities and fraud. The president is using these claims to challenge the vote count in several key states that gave President-elect Joe Biden his apparent victory in the Electoral College.
Nonetheless, Trump’s attacks on the election results came quickly, even before the results were compiled, claiming that election officials were hiding suitcases full of ballot papers and that election officials had operated a signature verification machine used for counting the ballots.
Both of those claims were refuted, but that didn’t stop the Trump campaign and many supporters from taking their concerns to courts in six states and quickly losing more than 60 cases, including to the Supreme Court. Responding to complaints alleging illicit activity, Attorney General William P. Barr said in early December: “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have had a different outcome in the election.”
Trump’s election fraud allegations were inaccurate and illegal
Trump was quick to allege during that December 27 telephone conversation that the results of the states of Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona constituted “corrupt elections”.
“We are doing our job. Much of the information you get is false, ”Donoghue said, saying the DOJ had conducted“ dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews, ”and found the election to be sound. Trump retaliated by asking questions about voter fraud in Fulton County and other areas, and when reassured that there was no evidence of illicit activity, he asked Donoghue to Personally verify signatures on ballots in Fulton County. Trump also claimed that the ballot count error rate was 68% in the state of Michigan, while the department found it to be only 0.0063%. “We have an obligation to tell people this was a corrupt illegal election,” Trump said, according to Donoghue’s transcript.
Rosen finally stepped in to explain the reality of the situation as well as the DOJ’s limitations, asking Trump to “understand that the DOJ can’t + won’t snap their fingers + change the election result, it doesn’t work that way. . . ”
But that was not what Trump wanted to hear. “People tell me Jeff Clark is awesome, I should put him on,” Trump said, referring to the Republican leader of the Justice Department’s civilian division at the time. “People want me to replace the GM leadership,” said one less than subtle threat to Donoghue and Rosen’s jobs in favor of Clark who had also pushed Justice Department officials to interfere with election results. “You should have the leadership you want,” Donoghue replied.
Although it is common knowledge that Trump called the election results fraudulent everywhere, press conferences on Twitter, Donoghue’s notes documenting the phone call are important due to the seriousness of Trump’s demands.
When the documents were released yesterday, Carolyn B. Maloney, Chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee, released a statement: Election in the final days of her presidency. Also in the statement, President Maloney wrote that the committee intended to question witnesses as part of a larger investigation into the president’s “corruption”.
Justice Department decisions could overturn Trump’s hopes of avoiding accountability
This action is part of several recent DOJ efforts to investigate Trump’s actions at the end of his term. This week, as Maloney mentioned in his statement, the Justice Department allowed former officials who had worked under the Trump administration to be interviewed, including Donoghue and Rosen. Jeffrey Clark will also be asked specifically about his involvement in a plot to replace Rosen in order to further his investigation into voter fraud.
Ministry of Justice officials have been authorized by the ministry to give “unrestricted testimony, … as long as the testimony is limited to the scope of interviews defined by the committees.” This is noticeable because, alongside the problems of voter fraud and the cancellation of elections, the committees to which officials will testify are also investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
This isn’t good news for Trump, especially given a second DOJ ruling regarding Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) who is allegedly being sued for helping incite the Capitol Riots in a speech he gave to supporters on the morning of the riot. Brooks countered that he was entitled to immunity because he was acting as a federal employee during his speech. However, Attorney General Merrick Garland declined to corroborate this, leaving Brooks vulnerable. It can have an impact Trump as he faces similar charges of incitement and Garland’s decision undermines Trump’s early defense of “executive privilege.”
Adding to the former president’s woes, the Justice Department issued a memo on Friday demanding that the Treasury Department turn over Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.
“The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee cited sufficient reasons to request tax information from the former chairman. The Treasury must provide the information to the Committee, ”wrote Deputy Attorney General Dawn Johnsen.
Trump’s refusal to release its full tax reporting was seen as a strategy to keep his affairs, namely those involving his family business, the Trump Organization, private. Under this order, he is now required to disclose this information to the committee, the main reason given being to ensure that he has not taken advantage of US tax laws.