Trump pressed DOJ to fight election results, emails show: House panel
US President Donald Trump speaks at an event honoring Bay of Pigs veterans in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on September 23, 2020.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
The oversight panel said a cache of more than 200 pages of newly released emails from Justice Department officials and White House staff sheds new light on how Trump tried to undermine the results of the 2020 election and advance unsupported voter fraud claims with the “apparent goal” of keeping himself in power.
The documents show, among other allegations, that Trump in December pressed the Justice Department to file a Supreme Court lawsuit to nullify the election, the committee said.
The dump of new materials came hours before the Oversight Committee was set to hold its second hearing on the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.
“These documents show that President Trump tried to corrupt our nation’s chief law enforcement agency in a brazen attempt to overturn an election that he lost,” Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said in a press release.
“Those who aided or witnessed President Trump’s unlawful actions must answer the Committee’s questions about this attempted subversion of democracy. My Committee is committed to ensuring that the events leading to the violent January 6 insurrection are fully investigated,” Maloney said.
The committee said it has also requested transcribed interviews with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and of four Justice Department officials.
Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The committee said Tuesday it obtained the emails after sending a May 21 letter to the DOJ requesting documents related to Trump’s “efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election” before the Jan. 6 attack.
The emails, which range from mid-December up to the days before the Capitol invasion, show how Trump, his White House aides and his outside allies repeatedly pressured DOJ officials, the committee said.
On Dec. 14, for instance, Trump’s assistant emailed then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen a raft of attachments claiming an election “Cover-up” was taking place in Michigan, the panel said.
Minutes later, an assistant for Richard Donoghue, then the principal associate deputy attorney general, sent the same information to two U.S. Attorneys’ offices in Michigan, according to the committee.
About 40 minutes after the first email was sent, Trump tweeted that Rosen would be replacing Attorney General William Barr in an acting capacity and that Donoghue would serve as acting deputy attorney general.
That announcement came just moments after the Electoral College voted to formalize Biden’s victory over Trump.
Later in December, Trump’s assistant emailed a draft legal brief to Rosen, Donoghue and acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall.
The 54-page draft complaint would have asked the Supreme Court to declare that the Electoral College votes of six crucial swing states — Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania — “cannot be counted.”
The legal brief also called for the Supreme Court to authorize the states in question to conduct a special election to appoint their presidential electors.
Other emails show Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff and a former North Carolina congressman, repeatedly pushing Rosen to investigate election fraud conspiracy theories — including claims of fraudulent activity being carried out via “military satellites” from Italy.
Trump never conceded to Biden after losing the presidential contest last November. Rather, he falsely claimed he won the election and spread an array of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories alleging that widespread voter fraud had rigged the race against him.
Trump’s lawyers and his allies filed dozens of lawsuits in key swing states he lost and with the Supreme Court, aiming to cancel or overturn Electoral College results. Most of those lawsuits avoided alleging fraud before a court, and none succeeded in flipping any electoral votes to Trump.
The Oversight Committee at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday is holding its second hearing on the Jan. 6 invasion, during which a mob of hundreds of Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced Congress into hiding, temporarily derailing Biden’s victory from being confirmed.
The hearing aims to address “unanswered questions” about the attempted insurrection, “including the Trump Administration’s failure to anticipate, prepare for, and respond adequately to the attack,” according to the panel.
Rosen in the previous hearing on May 12 refused to say whether Trump directed him to try to advance the spurious claims of election fraud.
Another hearing on the Capitol invasion, this one held by the Committee on House Administration, is also scheduled to start at the same time as the oversight panel’s hearing.
The Administration Committee will from Michael Bolton, inspector general for the U.S. Capitol Police, as it examines the department’s response to the violent mob.