A string of former Trump Justice Department officials revealed Thursday the extent of the former president’s campaign to pressure them to find evidence of voter fraud and overturn the 2020 election results, and later, to reshuffle the department when they refused.

The panorama: The officials recounted a number of instances in which they repeatedly told former President Trump that he was spouting conspiracy theories and that his claims of voter fraud were not true. But Trump found new ways, and brought in new people, like former deputy attorney general Jeffrey Clark, to help push the false narrative about him.

Why it matters: The Justice Department is a nonpartisan entity intended to be totally independent of the White House. Testimony from top Trump Justice Department officials reveals the extent of his efforts to politicize and coerce the department into helping him overturn election results.

Justice Department officials

Officials explained how they meticulously scrutinized allegations of voter fraud by Trump and his team, repeatedly shutting them down. Trump refused to believe them, they said.

Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen testified that “virtually every day” Trump told him that the Justice Department had “not done enough to investigate voter fraud.”

  • Rosen said Trump questioned the hiring of a special voter fraud attorney, urged him to meet with his campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani, asked if the DOJ would file suit with the Supreme Court, wanted the department to hold a press conference, and, later, he discussed having the DOJ send a letter to state legislatures in Georgia and other states indicating they had significant concerns that may have affected election results.
  • Rosen said Trump also suggested that the Justice Department seize voting machines from state governments, something he rejected. “There was nothing wrong with the voting machines, so it was not appropriate,” he testified. Trump grew increasingly frustrated with his response, he said.

Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue testified that Trump told the DOJ, “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and [a] Republican congressman?'”

  • However, Donoghue made it clear: “There were isolated cases of fraud, none of them came close to questioning the outcome of the election in any individual state.” They told Trump, he said.
  • Donoghue also detailed how he analyzed each of Trump’s voter fraud allegations, including “a driver who claimed to move a trailer of ballots from New York to Pennsylvania”: “We knew it wasn’t true,” he said.

Former Deputy Attorney General Steve Engel explained how Trump wanted the DOJ to send a lawsuit, drafted by Trump’s outside lawyers, to the Supreme Court regarding voter fraud.

  • Engel said he and other DOJ officials objected. Engel said at the time: “There is no legal basis for bringing this lawsuit. Anyone who thinks otherwise simply doesn’t know the law, let alone the Supreme Court.”
  • Engel also testified that the White House asked if Attorney General Bill Barr could appoint a state attorney general as special counsel to investigate voter fraud.
Jeffrey Clark

Former DOJ officials testified that Clark wanted to investigate voter fraud and have Trump install him as attorney general, his plans to help push the voter fraud theories were “insane” and a “murder-suicide pact.”

  • Trump considered appointing Clark, an environmental lawyer, as attorney general after acting Rosen refuted his claims of fraud.
  • Clark wrote a draft letter claiming the Justice Department had evidence of fraud, something former White House counsel Pat Cipollone called a “murder-suicide pact” should he send it to officials. state, Donoghue said.
  • Former White House counsel Eric Herschmann said in a pre-recorded statement that he told Clark, “You fucking idiot, congratulations, you just admitted that the first step you would take as attorney general would be committing a felony … You’re clearly the right candidate for this job.”
Impeachment of Trump’s Acting Attorney General
  • On January 3, Trump told Clark that he was appointing him acting attorney general and began referring to him as attorney general.

  • Trump then arranged a meeting in the Oval Office and made his reasoning clear: His then-acting attorney general, Rosen, would not investigate false fraud allegations, but Clark would.
  • Donoghue, who declared Clark “completely incompetent,” said that no one at that meeting supported Clark.
  • The president asked “what do I have to lose?” Donoghue said “a lot, and I started explaining to him what he had to lose” … including “hundreds and hundreds of resignations from the leadership of the entire Justice Department from him.”
Participation of Republican congressmen

Representative Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) sent a text message to Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, asking him to elevate Clark within the Justice Department and have Clark work with the FBI to pursue his fraud claims, even though Department officials of Justice claimed they had no merit, messages obtained by the committee showed.

  • White House visitor records also showed that Perry brought Clark to the White House on a December 2022 visit, something DOJ officials said was a violation of their policy given the Justice Department’s independence from power. executive.
Members of the Republican Party asked for pardons

Various members of Congress sought clemency from Trump, a number of Trump White House officials testified behind closed doors, including a Meadows aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, and former White House Office of Presidential Personnel Director John McEntee.

  • Representatives Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), and Scott Perry (R-Ga.) testified. R-Penn.) all sought pardons at one point.
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) discussed a pardon but never asked for one by one, Hutchinson testified.

Trump and his team believed in a conspiracy theory that Italian satellites were corrupting voting machines and switching votes from Trump to Biden, Justice Department officials testified.

  • The committee confirmed that then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller made a call to an attaché in Italy to investigate the claims.
  • Donoghue called the theory “pure madness”.
  • “This is one of the best examples of how far President Trump would go to stay in power,” said committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who led the panel’s questioning.



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