Former President Donald Trump pressured his incoming acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to say that the 2020 election was corrupt as he tried to aid Republican members of Congress in their attempt to overturn President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, notes from a call in December last year show.
The call on 27 December 2020 was between Mr Trump, Mr Rosen, and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue. Mr Donoghue provided his handwritten notes of the call to the House Oversight Committee.
Mr Rosen and Mr Donoghue ascended to the top spots at DOJ after the resignation of Attorney General Bill Barr on 23 December 2020. At the time of the call, Mr Trump had just over three weeks left in the White House.
Mr Trump told Mr Rosen and Mr Donoghue to say that the election had been “illegal” and “corrupt” despite a lack of evidence for this claim and that election security experts had said that the election had been conducted in a safe, free, and fair manner.
The Department of Justice had not been able to find widespread voter fraud following Mr Trump’s consistent false claims that fraud was the reason he lost.
Mr Donoghue’s notes state that Mr Trump said: “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”
The contemporaneous notes are the latest evidence that Mr Trump worked hard to overturn the election, pressuring various officials in an attempt to stay in office despite the voters’ verdict.
The efforts of Mr Trump to overturn the results are now part of an investigation by the select committee looking into the events of 6 January, the day a pro-Trump mob violently laid siege to the US Capitol in Washington, DC in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Mr Biden’s election victory.
Mr Trump’s false voter fraud claims are also under investigation by the House Oversight Committee, to which the handwritten notes were provided.
“These handwritten notes show that President Trump directly instructed our nation’s top law enforcement agency to take steps to overturn a free and fair election in the final days of his presidency,” House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney said in a statement.
During the call, Mr Trump pressured Mr Donoghue and Mr Rosen on claims of voter fraud that their department had already proven were not true.
Mr Donoghue told Mr Trump that the Department of Justice didn’t have the authority to overturn the election, to which Mr Trump said that it wasn’t something he expected DOJ to do. That’s when he urged them “just say that the election was corrupt” and to “leave the rest to me,” according to Mr Donoghue’s notes. While Mr Trump didn’t specify who the “R. Congressmen” were, during another part of the call, called Ohio Representative Jim Jordan a “fighter”. He also lauded Pennsylvania Rep Scott Perry, who was pushing the false claim that the election was stolen, and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, for “getting to bottom of things”.