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Trump Pressed The Justice Department To Reverse The Election Results, Documents Show

Former President Donald Trump is seen here addressing the NCGOP convention on June 5.
Melissa Sue Gerrits
Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump is seen here addressing the NCGOP convention on June 5.

Emails released by the House Oversight Committee show Trump pressuring his acting attorney general even before William Barr stepped down from the position.

A batch of emails released by the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee appears to paint a clearer picture of how former President Donald Trump and his allies attempted to pressure the U.S. Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

The 232 pages of documents detail the unprecedented pressure campaign Trump, along with his chief of staff and other allies, conducted to get senior officials at the Justice Department to challenge the results of the election in the face of Trump's loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

In one example, Trump directed sham claims of voter fraud to then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen less than an hour before the president tweeted that Attorney General William Barr — who publicly stated that there was not evidence of widespread election fraud — would be stepping down and replaced by Rosen.

The newly released emails also highlight multiple conspiracy theories surrounding election fraud pushed by then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. On Dec. 30, 2020, Meadows emailed Rosen a translation of a document that alleged there was a plot in which U.S. election data was altered in Italian facilities and loaded onto "military satellites" and that Trump was "clearly the winner."

After he sent Rosen a YouTube link detailing the conspiracy theory, Rosen forwarded the email to then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, who replied: "Pure insanity."

The cache of documents reveal that Meadows emailed Rosen multiple times to share unverified allegations of election fraud or ask him to take steps to change the election results.

The documents also highlight how Trump used official White House channels, along with a private attorney, to hound the Justice Department to file a lawsuit in the Supreme Court with the aim of having the court declare that the Electoral College vote counts in six states that Trump lost cannot be counted. The draft complaint circulated by Trump's White House assistant to Rosen, Richard Donoghue, and Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall requested the court order a "special election" for president in those six states.

The release of the documents to the public comes after the committee request in late May to the Justice Department for documents related to the Trump administration's efforts to overturn the election.

"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," Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said in a statement Tuesday. "Those who aided or witnessed President Trump's unlawful actions must answer the Committee's questions about this attempted subversion of democracy."

The Oversight Committee will hold its second hearing on the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection on Tuesday afternoon and has requested that several former Trump administration officials appear for a "transcribed interview" on the efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Those people are: Meadows, Donoghue, who served as acting deputy attorney general at the time, Richard Donoghue, former Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, former Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian, and former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung Jin Pak.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
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