A bombshell story reported on by Vozwire stating that former president Donald Trump demanded Justice Department officials simply claim the 2020 presidential election was ‘corrupt” and then ‘leave the rest to him” has critics of Trump calling for his arrest.
The original report by Katie Benner of the New York Times is based on corroborating notes taken by Richard P. Donoghue during a phone call on Dec. 27 during which Trump pressed acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to intervene on his behalf in a futile attempt to stay in power.
According to new documents provided to lawmakers, Trump pressed top Justice Department officials late last year to declare the election was rigged despite the fact that no widespread fraud had been discovered, so that he and his congressional allies could use the claim to try to overturn the results.
The demands were an unusual example of a president interfering with an agency that is typically more independent from the White House in order to further his own agenda.
They’re also the latest example of Trump’s wide-ranging campaign to delegitimize the election results in his final weeks in office.
Trump pressed the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, on voter fraud claims that the department had disproved during a phone call on Dec. 27.
Donoghue cautioned that the department lacked the authority to alter the election’s outcome.
According to notes taken by Donoghue during the conversation, Trump responded that he did not expect that.
“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me”, Donoghue wrote to congressional allies in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.
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Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, whom Trump described as a “fighter,” Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who at the time promoted the idea that Trump’s election was stolen from him, and Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, whom Trump praised for “getting to the bottom of things,” were among the lawmakers Trump mentioned during the call.
Jordan and Johnson denied any involvement in Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department.
“Congressman Jordan did not, has not, and would not pressure anyone at the Justice Department about the 2020 election,” said Russell Dye, Jordan’s spokesman.
Jordan voted to overturn election results in key states but has downplayed his role in the president’s pressure campaign.
According to his spokeswoman, Alexa Henning, Johnson had “no conversations with President Trump about the D.O.J. questioning the election results.”
She pointed out that while he recognized Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the president-elect, he also demanded that election irregularities be thoroughly investigated and addressed in order to restore confidence in future elections.
He has maintained that Trump was elected, but he has not been linked to the White House’s efforts to keep him in office.
Donoghue’s notes were given to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is looking into the Trump administration’s efforts to illegally overturn election results.
Historically, the department has fought to keep any accounts of private conversations between a president and his cabinet secret in order to avoid setting a precedent that would prevent officials in future administrations from candidly advising presidents for fear of their conversations being made public later.
However, turning over the notes to Congress is part of a pattern of allowing scrutiny of Trump’s election-rigging efforts.
This week, the Biden Justice Department told Rosen, Donoghue, and other former officials that they could give unrestricted testimony to House Oversight and Reform and Senate Judiciary Committee investigators.
Commenters on Twitter, including some constitutional law experts, reacted to the report by calling the president’s comments a “smoking gun” that should lead to his prosecution.
Noah Bookbinder, President and CEO at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), @NoahBookbinder, wrote “Today’s blockbuster report adds to the evidence that Donald Trump pressured the Department of Justice to help him overturn the election.
Laurence Henry Tribe, an American legal scholar who is a University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, wrote, “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me’ & to congressional allies [Deputy Acting AG Richard] Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.” That’s part of a pattern showing Trump’s criminal planning to foment a coup:”
Ryan Goodman, the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at NYU School of Law and is the founding co-editor-in-chief of its website Just Security, @rgoodlaw, wrote, “George Conway has been and is right on this. Many suffer from Trump-crime-fatigue, but this one is clear and huge abuse of power. The reported facts and set of events are direct match for the heart of the Hatch Act’s criminal provisions. Also sounds like plenty of evidence.”
Renato Mariotti, an American attorney, legal commentator, acting fill-in anchor for WGN-TV and former federal prosecutor, @renato_mariotti, wrote, “Trump pushed the DOJ to “just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me.” He tried to usurp our democracy. While Trump failed, he came awfully close. We need reform to ensure that no president can abuse his power in this way ever again.”
Joyce Alene, an American lawyer who served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama from 2009 to 2017, @JoyceWhiteVance, wrote, “This is what GOP leadership is still endorsing: Trump pressed top DOJ officials to declare the election was “corrupt” even tho they found no widespread fraud, “so that he and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to try to overturn the results.””