WASHINGTON – Documents released Tuesday by the House Oversight Committee detail President Donald Trump’s repeated efforts to pressure the Justice Department to pursue its unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election and to help reverse Joe Biden’s victory.
The emails illustrate Trump’s behind-the-scenes White House efforts to pressure federal officials as he simultaneously made the same unsubstantiated claims on Twitter. The messages were sent between mid-December and early January and were made public by House Oversight and Government Reform President Carolyn Maloney.
Among the efforts was pressure on the Justice Department to intervene in campaign lawsuits by Trump and his supporters to have the Supreme Court overturn the results.
In late December, Trump’s White House aide emailed then Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and other senior Justice Department officials with a draft legal brief the president wanted that they file with the Supreme Court. Kurt Olsen, a private attorney for Trump, also contacted ministry officials to ask the federal agency to file the case.
The 54-page brief called on the Supreme Court to declare that Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada administered the 2020 presidential election in violation of the election clause and the 14th Amendment, claiming that states had changed electoral rules without legislative action. . All six were swing states that Trump lost.
“These unconstitutional changes allowed electoral irregularities in various forms,” said the complaint, which called on the High Court to allow a special election in those states to appoint new presidential voters.
Trump’s public efforts to overturn the election were highly unusual, but had the DOJ intervened on his behalf it would have been seen as an extraordinary use of the powers of the presidency to overthrow the will of the voters.
The posts are also riddled with conspiracy theories and oversight committee staff cited at least five instances where then chief of staff Mark Meadows inquired about rumors circulating 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 in which Italians altered the election results, then loaded them into “military satellites”.
The documents begin with correspondence on December 14 – the day states certified the Electoral College’s votes in the 2020 election and sealed Trump’s defeat.
Trump’s aide emailed Rosen with the subject line “From POTUS” and attached documents that listed “talking points” about a “voting crime cover-up” in Michigan, a state. which Trump lost by more than 154,000 votes.
About an hour after sending the email, Trump announced that Attorney General William Barr would be resigning his post and Rosen would take over as acting attorney general.
Just after midnight the next day, Trump tweeted, “This is BIG NEWS. Dominion voting machines are a disaster across the country. Changed the outcome of an overwhelming election… ”This is a claim Trump has made repeatedly in his efforts to overturn the election, but no evidence has ever been provided to back it up.
Emails from late December and early January showed White House officials including Meadows asked then Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Clark to further allegations of electoral fraud by contacting a US lawyer in Georgia, Byung J. Pak. NBC News previously reported that Trump was considering firing Rosen at the time and replacing him with Clark.
Email correspondence between Trump administration officials lasted until early January, just days before the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill, when hundreds of Trump supporters violently snapped. Breaking into the building in an attempt to interrupt the counting of the electoral votes and undo Biden’s victory.
Ultimately, Trump failed to get his Justice Department to take legal action to overturn the presidential results. Days after Biden’s inauguration, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced he would investigate whether current or former officials were engaged in an “inappropriate attempt to have DOJ seek to change the result of the 2020 presidential election “.
Maloney said on Tuesday she had asked Meadows and former Justice Department officials involved in the pressure campaign to appear for transcribed interviews before the committee.