According to a sweeping new report in the New York Times reviewing emails given to congress, in the final weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, pressured the Department of Justice to investigate conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.
In a series of emails sent in late December and early January, Meadows asked acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen to examine already disproved claims of fraud in New Mexico and other baseless conspiracies claiming that Trump had actually won the election over Joe Biden.
One of the theories was an outrageous one claiming that people in Italy had used special military technology and satellites to tamper with election equipment in the United States and switch votes for Trump to Biden.
More from The Times:
None of the emails show Mr. Rosen agreeing to open the investigations suggested by Mr. Meadows, and former officials and people close to him said that he did not do so. An email to another Justice Department official indicated that Mr. Rosen had refused to broker a meeting between the F.B.I. and a man who had posted videos online promoting the Italy conspiracy theory, known as Italygate.
But the communications between Mr. Meadows and Mr. Rosen, which have not previously been reported, show the increasingly urgent efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies during his last days in office to find some way to undermine, or even nullify, the election results while he still had control of the government.
The report continues to explain that Trump chose Meadows, a far-right wing conservative congressman from North Carolina, to serve as his final chief of staff last March, after three previous people did not work out for Trump.
Meadows is a founder of the far-right Freedom Caucus and was one of Trump’s most loyal supporters in congress, especially when it came to being critical of the Russia investigation.
More from the Times:
In the days before Christmas, as Mr. Trump pressed the lead investigator for Georgia’s secretary of state to find “dishonesty,” Mr. Meadows made a surprise visit to Cobb County, Ga., to view an election audit in process. Local officials called it a stunt that “smelled of desperation,” as investigations had not found evidence of widespread fraud.
Mr. Meadows also joined the phone call that Mr. Trump made on Jan. 2 to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, in which Mr. Trump repeatedly urged the state’s top elections official to alter the outcome of the presidential vote.
However, these newly revealed emails show that Meadows’s private efforts “veered into the realm of the outlandish,” and “sought official validation for misinformation that was circulating rampantly among Mr. Trump’s supporters.”
The emails were unveiled earlier this year in a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into how deeply involved Justice Department officials were in trying to reverse the results of the 2020 election in Trump’s favor.
Senator Dick Durbin (D.Ill) explains:
“This new evidence underscores the depths of the White House’s efforts to co-opt the department and influence the electoral vote certification. I will demand all evidence of Trump’s efforts to weaponize the Justice Department in his election subversion scheme.”
The day after it was announced that Rosen would become acting AG, Trump called him to the White House to ask him to pressure the DOJ to support lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results. According to the emails, Trump also urged him to appoint a special counsel to probe Dominion Voting Systems based on conspiracies that the election equipment company was part of the alleged voter fraud.
Trump continued to pressure Rosen to help him undermine the election results and even at one point thought about replacing him as acting attorney general with another Justice Department official.
That plant might have less of a problem using the department to violate the Constitution and change election results. As the emails show, Rosen, then the acting attorney general, agreed to open investigations suggested by Mr. Meadows, and former officials and people close to him said that he did not do so.
None of the emails show Rosen agreeing to open any of the investigations suggested by Meadows on Trump’s behalf, and former officials and others with knowledge of the situation said that he did not do so.
Rosen apparently told Trump that he would prefer to not take such actions, echoing a statement made by his predecessor, AG Bill Barr, claiming that the Department had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”