Washington (Trends Wide) — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday released a far-reaching report on how former President Donald Trump and a top attorney for the Department of Justice (DOJ) attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Trump directly asked the Justice Department nine times to undermine the election outcome, and his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, broke with administration policy by pressuring a Justice Department attorney to investigate allegations of voter fraud. according to the report, which is based on interviews with witnesses from senior former Justice Department officials.
The Democrat-led commission also revealed that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone threatened to resign in early January as Trump considered replacing then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a DOJ attorney who supported the laws. electoral fraud conspiracies.
After eight months of investigation, the findings reveal the relentlessness of Trump and some of his top advisers in their efforts to use the Justice Department to shore up bogus voter fraud conspiracies. The commission’s report, the most comprehensive account yet of Trump’s efforts to nullify the election, describes his conduct as an abuse of presidential power.
Shortly after the report was released Thursday morning, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley’s office issued a GOP version, rejecting the Democrats’ conclusions and defending Trump, saying he “listened to his top advisers and followed his tips and recommendations “.
In his appearance on Trends Wide’s “New Day” on Thursday morning, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, said the United States was “in the middle of a constitutional crisis, a constitutional crisis. full-fledged “and explained that the events unfolded in three phases.
“First phase, Trump goes to court. He loses all the lawsuits, in which he claims that there was electoral fraud in the elections. Next, he decides that he has to take control of the Department of Justice and the Secretary of Justice, and make that the secretary pushed this narrative to the states to tell them to stop submitting their Electoral College vote totals. When that failed, and our report goes into graphical detail of the efforts that were made, the third step was to unleash the mob in the Capitol the day we were counting the ballots, “Durbin said, referring to the January 6 riots.
DOJ attorney was a crucial actor, according to Democrats
The 400-page report by Senate Democrats, titled “Subverting Justice,” lashes out at the actions of Clark, who they say became a crucial player in Trump’s attempt to use the Justice Department for his political benefit.
The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Thursday that he will be referred to the DC Bar for an investigation into his professional conduct, citing rules that prohibit attorneys from assisting with fraud and interfering with the administration of justice.
The Commission said it has not yet drawn conclusions on possible crimes, as its investigation has not been completed. Clark has not been charged with any crime, and an attorney for Clark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Clark was not interviewed by the commission. Instead, senior Justice Department officials in interviews outlined their plans and those of Trump to overturn the election.
Clark had lobbied Rosen and Richard Donoghue, then the second-in-command in the Justice Department, to use the Justice Department to announce voter fraud investigations and ask Georgia state leaders to nominate voters, potentially ignoring the certified popular vote. The Commission found that Clark began the appeals in late December after speaking with Trump directly.
The Senate Committee wrote that he could have had help from “lower level allies” within the Justice Department and even tried to negotiate with Rosen his plan, saying that he would decline an opportunity to take Rosen’s place if Rosen agreed to support his initiative to the voters of Georgia.
“Clark’s proposal to use the DOJ’s power to override the certified popular vote reflected an astonishing distortion of DOJ’s authority: DOJ protects access to and integrity of ballots, but has no role in voting. determining which candidate won a particular election, “the commission wrote.
Donoghue and Rosen testified before the committee.
“Leave the rest to me”
The series of interactions between the president and Rosen and Donoghue began in mid-December with a meeting in the Oval Office, included several phone calls, and continued through January 3.
In the multiple calls, Trump claimed there was voter fraud in Pennsylvania and Arizona, both states he lost, telling Rosen that “people are saying” and asking the Justice Department to investigate the rumors, according to the Commission.
Trump also told the Department of Justice leadership: “You don’t follow the internet like I do,” according to Donoghue and Rosen.
Rosen told the president that the department “cannot and will not flip a switch and change the elections.” That caused Trump to limit himself to requesting an official announcement from the Department of Justice affirming that the elections had been corrupt and saying: “leave the rest to me and to the congressmen [republicanos]”says the committee’s report.
The department had not found any widespread election fraud, and simultaneously the Trump campaign was filing lawsuits to nullify millions of votes in swing states.
Trump had Rosen and Clark compete for the attorney general’s job during the nearly three-hour meeting on Jan. 3, before deciding not to replace Rosen with Clark, according to the report. It also details how discussions about Clark’s plan in Georgia were inextricably linked to conversations about replacing Rosen.
“According to Rosen, Trump opened the meeting by saying, ‘One thing we know is that you, Rosen, are not going to do anything to annul the election,'” the report says.
“Over the course of the next three hours, the group had what Donoghue called ‘a wide-ranging conversation’ centered on whether Trump should replace the DOJ leadership, install Clark in Rosen’s place, and send Clark’s proposed letter. And if Clark was even qualified to take on the role of acting attorney general. ” Rosen and Donoghue told us that at this point, Clark’s proposed letter and his potential role as acting attorney general were intertwined, “he adds.
Threat of mass resignations from the Justice Department
The report goes on to note that at some point during the meeting, Donoghue and the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, Steve Engel, made it clear that there would be mass resignations from the Justice Department if Trump went ahead with replacing Rosen with Clark, something he told the commission was “important context” for the then president as he considered his decision.
Donoghue and Rosen also recalled that White House attorneys Cipollone and Patrick Philbin opposed the plan to replace Rosen with Clark, and that Cipollone called Clark’s letter a “suicide pact” and the two White House attorneys indicated that they would also resign, according to the report.
Despite the threat of mass resignations, Trump “continued for some time to entertain the idea of replacing Rosen with Clark,” the report notes. It also says that Donoghue told the panel that Trump did not reject Clark’s plan until “very late. the conversation ‘, within the last 15 minutes of the two to three hour meeting. “
Trends Wide previously reported that Rosen, during his closed-door interview with the commission, discussed numerous interactions with Clark, but much of his testimony focused on five episodes in which Clark stepped out of the chain of command to push forward the fraud claims. , including the January 3 meeting at the White House.
– Trends Wide’s Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.