Woven together, they show that Trump’s assault on democracy, which looks more and more like an attempted coup, was even more reckless and insistent than previously thought.
- Trump pressured acting DOJ officials like acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on December 27 to “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” according to the notes of acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue’s notes, shared with House investigators.
- A day later, on December 28, at least one acting DOJ official, Jeffrey Clark, who was in charge of the civil division, apparently bought into Trump’s lies, or wanted to assuage him, and drafted a letter suggesting there were election irregularities in the election (there weren’t), but it was rebuffed by other top acting officials.
- Officials like Rosen’s chief of staff Patrick Hovakimian drafted letters of resignation in case his boss was pushed out in favor of Clark.
It’s the threat of a block of DOJ resignations among the acting officials (these people, as acting officials, were supposed to be Trump loyalists) that may have stopped Trump from a last-minute firing of officials at Justice was that some key members that would have been left were ready to resign in protest.
Bear 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 its final month, not long after he’d told a reporter the truth, that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the election.
These details will come out in a fuller narrative now that House investigators are interviewing former Trump officials.
That occurred January 3. Three days later, Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes.
It’s good news that even officials once perceived as Trump loyalists would not help him overturn the election. But it all needs to be considered in context and with the knowledge that Trump could very well run for the White House again.
It’s also worth considering whether he broke the law by exerting pressure to break the US democratic process.
“Forget about a crime. I see several federal crimes here,” said the former federal prosecutor and CNN analyst Elie Honig, who has recently published a book that is an indictment of Barr’s time in the Trump administration.
Here’s more detail from Honig, who made these comments to CNN’s Erin Burnett:
“I’ll be specific. It is a federal crime to deprive a state of a fair election.
It is a federal crime to solicit false counting of ballots, false certification of an election.
It is a federal crime to conspire against the United States.
Now, could a good defense lawyer come in and quibble with this or try to poke holes in it? Sure. I gladly take on that fight.”
Honig said there’s ample evidence for a criminal probe and that current Attorney General Merrick Garland should launch one even though DOJ hasn’t: “This is deadly serious and there has to be consequences. Imagine if there is no consequences for this whatsoever. What kind of message does that send?”
Trump already escaped impeachment, although these latest details were not known when the vote was taken. He pressured Republicans on Capitol Hill to kill a full nonpartisan review of the insurrection. He’s argued the committee Democrats have empaneled is partisan.
He’s trying to corrupt our knowledge of the events just like he tried to corrupt the outcome of the election.