Emails released by the House Oversight Committee appear to paint a clear picture of how former President Donald Trump and his allies attempted to pressure the U.S. Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“These documents show that President Trump tried to corrupt our nation’s chief law enforcement agency in a brazen attempt to overturn an election that he lost,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, who released documents showing Trump’s efforts to pressure the Department of Justice (DOJ) to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Those who aided or witnessed President Trump’s unlawful actions must answer the committee’s questions about this attempted subversion of democracy,” said Maloney. “My committee is committed to ensuring that the events leading to the violent January 6 insurrection are fully investigated.”
On May 21, 2021, the committee sent a letter to DOJ requesting documents relating to President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election prior to the January 6 attack.
Documents obtained by the committee in response to this letter show that in December 2020 and early January 2021, President Trump, his Chief of Staff, and outside allies repeatedly put pressure on senior DOJ officials to challenge the results of the presidential election and advance unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, with the apparent goal of keeping President Trump in power despite losing the 2020 election.
Trump sent bogus election fraud claims to two DOJ officials minutes before announcing their promotions to the top spots in the department.
On December 14, 2020—the day electors in each state certified the Electoral College votes—President Trump’s White House Assistant sent an email with the subject “From POTUS” to then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. The email attached materials about alleged voter fraud in Antrim County, Michigan, including “talking points” that asserted, “a Cover-up is Happening regarding the voting machines in Michigan,” and, “Michigan cannot certify for Biden.”
Just two minutes after Trump’s assistant sent these documents to Rosen, then-Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, through his assistant, sent the same documents to the U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan.
Approximately 40 minutes after sending this phony voter fraud information, President Trump tweeted that Attorney General Barr—who had said publicly that he had not seen widespread election fraud—would be stepping down, that Rosen would serve as Acting Attorney General, and that Donoghue would serve as Acting Deputy Attorney General.
Trump Used Official White House Channels and a Private Attorney to Pressure DOJ to Urgently File a Supreme Court Lawsuit to Nullify the Election
On December 29, 2020, President Trump’s White House Assistant emailed Rosen, Donoghue, and Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, attaching a draft legal brief to file in the Supreme Court. She wrote, “The President asked me to send the attached draft document for your review,” and provided a phone number so they could contact the President directly.
The draft 54-page complaint demanded that the Supreme Court “declare that the Electoral College votes cast” in six states that President Trump lost “cannot be counted,” and requested that the Court order a “special election” for president in those states.
On the very same day, a private attorney, Kurt Olsen, contacted multiple senior DOJ officials on President Trump’s behalf to urge them to file this complaint. In one email to Rosen’s Chief of Staff, he wrote: “As I said on our call, the President of the United States has seen this complaint, and he directed me last night to brief AG Rosen in person today and discuss bringing this action. I have been instructed to report back to the President this afternoon after this meeting.” In a separate email to the Acting Solicitor General, Olsen added, “This is an urgent matter.”
Emails indicate that Rosen discussed the filing with Olsen on or around December 29, 2020, and asked Olsen to send him Supreme Court precedent supporting the arguments in the complaint. Olsen previously represented Texas in its failed lawsuit to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
President Trump Enlisted Assistant AG Jeffrey Clark in an Attempt to Advance Election Fraud Claims
Emails confirm that on December 31, 2020, and January 3, 2021, President Trump met with Rosen, then-Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, and other DOJ officials. During these meetings, President Trump reportedly pressured them to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election.
On January 1, 2021, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows directed Rosen to have Clark look into “signature match anomalies in Fulton county, GA.” Later that day, Rosen sent Clark the cell phone number of then-U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung J. Pak with the subject line “atlanta.” That day, Clark also emailed Dustin Carmack, Chief of Staff to the Director of National Intelligence, to request a call.
On January 2, 2021, Rosen followed up with Clark regarding his call with Pak. Clark replied, “I spoke to the source and am on with the guy who took the video right now. Working on it. More due diligence to do.” Later that day, President Trump referred to Pak as a “never-Trumper U.S. Attorney” while discussing two videos purporting to show fraudulent votes in Fulton County with Georgia Secretary of Secretary Brad Raffensberger.
The January 3 meeting was described in press reports as an “Apprentice”-like battle during which President Trump considered “whether to fire Rosen and replace him with Clark” who was sympathetic to the President’s election fraud claims. After the meeting, Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian reported to his colleagues: “it sounds like Rosen and the cause of justice won.”
Later that evening, Donoghue emailed Pak with the subject line “Please call ASAP.” Pak resigned less than 10 hours later, reportedly under pressure from the Trump White House.
The White House Chief of Staff Pressured DOJ to Investigate Conspiracy Theories At Least Fives Times
Newly released documents substantiate recent reports that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pressured DOJ officials—on at least five occasions—to investigate baseless claims of election fraud or put pressure on other officials to pursue these claims.
On December 30, 2020, Meadows forwarded Rosen an email from Cleta Mitchell, a Trump advisor who later participated in a January phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During that call, President Trump reportedly asked Georgia election officials to “find” enough votes to declare him the winner of the state. The December 30 email contained allegations of “video issues in Fulton County.” Meadows wrote to Rosen: “Can you have your team look into these allegations of wrongdoing. Only the alleged fraudulent activity.”
Later on December 30, 2020, Meadows emailed Rosen a translation of a document from an individual in Italy claiming to have “direct knowledge” of a plot by which American electoral data was changed in Italian facilities “in coordination with senior US intelligence officials (CIA)” and loaded onto “military satellites.” This individual claimed that the true data, as well as sources within the conservative wing of the Italian secret service, confirmed that Donald Trump was “clearly the winner” of the 2020 election.
On January 1, 2021, Meadows emailed Rosen on three separate occasions to provide unsubstantiated claims about election fraud or ask him to take direct action to change the results:
At 3:08 p.m., Meadows sent Rosen a YouTube link referencing the Italy conspiracy, labeled “Brad Johnson: Rome, Satellites, Servers: an Update.” Rosen forwarded the email to Donoghue, who responded: “Pure insanity.” Rosen explained to Donoghue that after receiving the message, he was asked to have the FBI meet with Brad Johnson, who Rosen learned “is working with Rudy Giuliani.” Rosen said he refused the request.
At 4:13 p.m., eadows sent another email to Rosen, writing: “There have been allegations of signature match anomalies in Fulton county, Ga. Can you get Jeff Clark to engage on this issue immediately to determine if there is any truth to this allegation.” Rosen forwarded this email to Donoghue with the comment: “Can you believe this? I am not going to respond to the message below.”
At 6:56 p.m., Meadows forwarded Rosen a document alleging voting irregularities and problems with Dominion machines in New Mexico and asking Rosen for his “team to review the allegations contained herein.”
Maloney’s committee is also examining the events of January 6, 2021, in which insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol to disrupt a joint session of Congress convened to count the Electoral College votes of the 2020 presidential election in what appears to be an attempted coup d’état intended to keep Trump in power despite Democrat Joe Biden’s overwhelming victory in the November 2020 balloting.