Emails Detail Trump’s Pressure on Justice Department to Overturn US Election
Story Code : 938431
The emails illustrate the behind-the-scenes efforts Trump's White House took to pressure federal officials while he simultaneously pushed the same false claims on Twitter. The messages were sent from mid-December to early January and were made public by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-NY.
Among the efforts was pressure on the Department of Justice to intervene in lawsuits being pursued by Trump's campaign and supporters to get the Supreme Court to overturn the results.
At the end of December, Trump’s White House assistant emailed then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and other top Justice Department officials with a draft legal brief that the president wanted them to file with the Supreme Court. Kurt Olsen, a private attorney for Trump, also contacted department officials requesting the federal agency file the brief.
The 54-page brief called on the Supreme Court to declare that Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada had administered the 2020 presidential election in violation of the Electors Clause and the 14th Amendment, claiming that the states changed election rules without legislative action. All six were swing states that Trump lost.
“Those unconstitutional changes allowed election irregularities in various forms,” said the complaint, which called on the high court to authorize a special election in those states to appoint new presidential electors.
Trump's vocal public efforts to overturn the election were highly unusual, but had the DOJ intervened on his behalf it would have been viewed as an extraordinary use of the powers of the presidency to overturn the will of voters.
The messages are also riddled with conspiracy theories, and the Oversight Committee's staff members cited at least five instances when then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows inquired about rumors that were circulating on the internet at the time but for which there was no supporting evidence.
For example, Meadows emailed Rosen a translated document from a person in Italy who claimed without evidence that he had “direct knowledge” of a plot that involved Italians changing the election results and then loading them into “military satellites.”
The pressure campaign reached its crescendo on Jan. 1, just five days before the Capitol riot and Congress' affirmation of the certified electors. On that day, Meadows emailed Justice Department leaders about the Italy conspiracy and complaints in Georgia and New Mexico, a state Trump lost by more than 10 points.
"Pure insanity," Richard Donoghue, who was the acting deputy attorney general, wrote to Rosen in response to Meadows' latest email promoting the theory.
Meadows' email had linked to a Youtube video featuring Brad Johnson — a retired CIA official whose LinkedIn says he now offers commentary on the far-right, pro-Trump cable channel One America News Network — also making the baseless claims of Italian malfeasance.