But in addition to the lies he had been spreading from the start, we continue to learn new and disturbing details about his stubborn and pernicious efforts to poison the system from within, which included an ‘apprentice’ style confrontation between two highs. Justice Department officials at the White House and threats of resignation.
Woven together, they show that Trump’s assault on democracy, which increasingly resembles an attempted coup, was even more reckless and insistent than previously thought.
- Trump lobbied acting Justice Department officials like Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on December 27 to “just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and Congressmen R.” according to the notes of Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, shared with House investigators.
- A day later, on December 28, at least one acting Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who was in charge of the Civil Division, apparently endorsed Trump’s lies, or wanted to appease him, and took wrote a letter suggesting there were electoral irregularities in the election (there were none), but it was rebuffed by other senior interim officials.
- Officials like Rosen’s chief of staff Patrick Hovakimian have drafted resignation letters in case his boss is dismissed in favor of Clark.
CNN’s Marshall Cohen, Jason Morris, Christopher Hickey and Will Mullery have provided a detailed timeline of Trump’s efforts to corrupt the US government and the Georgian government. It is exhaustive and shocking.
It was the threat of a bloc of DOJ resignations among acting officials (these people, as acting officials, were supposed to be Trump loyalists) that may have kept Trump from sacking at the last minute of justice officials. were left were ready to resign in protest.
Keep in mind that Trump’s pressure on Rosen and Donoghue came exactly one day after the final resignation of former Attorney General William Barr.
Barr left the administration in his final month, shortly after telling a reporter the truth that there was no evidence of widespread electoral fraud that could change the outcome of the election.
Trump exploded over this betrayal seen by Barr during a White House meeting documented by Jonathan Karl in a forthcoming book.
On Barr’s last day, Trump was on the phone with officials in Georgia, encouraging them to “find” votes. They wouldn’t.
Those details will emerge in a fuller account now that House investigators are questioning former Trump officials.
This official dossier will complement details we already knew, like the ‘Apprentice’ style showdown, which lasted for hours, where Rosen and Clark each presented arguments to Trump on how to proceed in his final. days.
This happened on January 3. Three days later, Trump supporters attacked the Capitol to stop the electoral vote count.
The pressure from Trump’s efforts to undermine the election has not been isolated from the Justice Department. Earlier this year, we learned in another book that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley has been actively engaged in countering any Trump effort to use the government to seize power.
It’s good news that even officials once perceived to be Trump loyalists would not help him overturn the election. But it all has to be seen in context and with the knowledge that Trump could very well run for the White House again.
It is also worth considering whether he broke the law by exerting pressure to break the American democratic process.
“Forget about a crime. I see several federal crimes here, ”said former federal prosecutor and CNN analyst Elie Honig, who recently published a book that impeaches Barr’s time in the Trump administration.
Here are more details from Honig, who made these comments to CNN’s Erin Burnett:
“I will be precise. It is a federal crime to deprive a state of fair elections.
It is a federal crime to solicit a false count of the ballots, a false certification of an election.
It is a federal crime to conspire against the United States.
Now, could a good defense attorney come in and quibble with it or try to punch holes in it? Sure. I take this fight with pleasure. “
Honig said there is ample evidence of a criminal investigation and current Attorney General Merrick Garland should launch one even if the DOJ did not: “It’s deadly serious and there must be consequences. Imagine if there is no consequence for it. What kind of message does this send? “
Trump has previously escaped impeachment, although these final details were not known at the time of the vote. He pressured Republicans on Capitol Hill to kill a full non-partisan review of the insurgency. He argued that the committee the Democrats have formed is partisan.
He is trying to corrupt our knowledge of events just as he tried to corrupt the election result.