Trump wanted DOJ to declare 2020 election ‘corrupt’ without evidence, ex-officials say


In testimony before , former Justice Department officials described a 90-minute phone call in late December 2020 with then-President Donald Trump, during which Trump pleaded with them to declare the election over. “corrupt” despite being told her cheating allegations were false.

During the Dec. 27, 2020, phone call with Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, Trump raised a litany of false allegations regarding voter fraud. The former officials told the panel they investigated each claim and found they had no basis, but Trump continued to peddle them.

Donoghue said he tried unsuccessfully to “educate” Trump.

“I felt in that conversation that it was incumbent on the president to understand what our investigations had revealed,” Donoghue recalled. “I wanted to try to cut the noise because it was clear to us that there were a lot of people whispering in his ear feeding him these conspiracy theories and I felt being very direct in that conversation might help. to make it clear to the president that these allegations were simply untrue.”

Former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue testifies before the House Select Committee on Thursday. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Donoghue said that as Trump went through an “arsenal of allegations,” he told the president, “No, that’s not true,” one by one, “in a serial fashion as he went from ‘one theory to another’.

Among the allegations, Donoghue said Trump was “so obsessed” with a report claiming there was a 68% error rate in a Michigan county’s ballot counting machines. Donoghue said a manual recount showed there was an error on more than 15,000 votes cast.

Donoghue said he informed the president that an error rate of 0.0063%.

“So, Mr. President, this is an example of what people are telling you that is not true,” Donoghue recalled telling Trump.

The committee posted handwritten notes that Donoghue took during their conversation with Trump.

At one point, according to the notes, Rosen told Trump that “the DOJ cannot and will not snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election.”

“That’s not what I’m asking you to do,” Trump replied. “What I’m asking you is to say [the election] was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican members of Congress.”

Slides showing Donoghue's notes are displayed during Thursday's select committee hearing.  (home TV)

Slides showing Donoghue’s notes are displayed during Thursday’s select committee hearing. (home TV)

“We have an obligation to tell people that this was an illegal and corrupt election,” Trump continued, according to Donoghue’s notes.

Donoghue said while there were “isolated” instances of voter fraud, “none of them came close” to affecting the outcome of the election.

The hearing was the fifth in a series of presentations by the House Select Committee of the findings of its 11-month investigation into the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Thursday’s panel focused specifically on Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to help him reverse his election defeat in the weeks leading up to the insurgency.


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