Politics

Former top Justice Dept. official’s notes say Trump asked him to call election “corrupt”

Former President Trump in late December spoke with top Justice Department officials about the 2020 presidential election and told them to “just say the election was corrupt and to leave the rest to me” and Republicans in Congress, according to notes taken by then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue. 

Donoghue’s notes, released Friday by the Democratic-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, detail a December 27, 2020 phone conversation with Mr. Trump, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Donoghue. The former president has repeatedly insisted that the presidential election was rigged, but the documented phone conversation suggests that Rosen and Donoghue felt that they were being asked by the president to alter the election results.

Here is the relevant section of Donoghue’s handwritten notes: 

-DAG – we’ll look at whether have more ballots in PA than registered voters – should be able to check on that quickly but understand that the DOJ can’t and won’t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way.
-P: “Don’t expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”

The president also noted, “Not much time left.” 

That exchange took place during a broader discussion about the election results and possible steps forward, detailed across eight pages of handwritten notes. CBS News has reached out to the former president’s office for a response. 

According to the notes, Rosen and Donoghue told the president, “We are doing our job. Much of the info you’re getting is false.” They refuted his claims of fraud, citing a report that claimed a “68% error rate — but reality is it was .0063% error rate — less than 1 in 15K.”

In light of the note detailing the December phone conversation, House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said her committee is seeking more interviews. 

“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,” Maloney said in a statement. “The Committee has begun scheduling interviews with key witnesses to investigate the full extent of the former President’s corruption, and I will exercise every tool at my disposal to ensure all witness testimony is secured without delay.”

On the House Oversight Committee’s website, Maloney said that the committee had written to the Justice Department in May to request documents related to Mr. Trump’s “efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.” In June, it released 229 pages of documents provided by the Justice Department that it said show “the extent of President Trump and his allies’ improper efforts to interfere with the 2020 election.” 

The committee has already requested transcribed interviews with Rosen, Donoghue, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, and other Justice Department officials.

Maloney noted that the Justice Department had authorized officials to give “unrestricted testimony” before Congress because the committee has “‘compelling legislative interests’ in understanding the ‘extraordinary events’ surrounding President Trump’s conduct.” She also said that the Justice Department would not assert any claims of privilege in the officials’ testimony.

Despite the January 6 assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters that came shortly after Mr. Trump held a rally in Washington, the ex-president has not given up his groundless assertions that the election was rigged or stolen. In June, he released a statement referring to “the 2020 Presidential Election Scam.” 

“Whether it be voting machines, underaged people, dead people, illegal aliens, ballot drops, ballot cheating, absentee ballots, post office delivery (or lack thereof!), lock boxes, people being paid to vote, or other things, the 2020 Presidential Election is, in my mind, the Crime of the Century,” he said.

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