(Headline USA) Democrats engaged in a partisan display of political theater on the House Oversight Committee feigned shock and indignation that then-President Donald Trump sought relief from the federal justice department after other institutions failed to act.
Four days after the departure of embittered Attorney General William Barr, Trump urged senior Justice Department officials to declare the results of the 2020 election “corrupt” in a December phone call, according to handwritten notes from one of the participants in the conversation.
“Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” Trump said at one point to then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, according to notes taken by Richard Donoghue, who was then Rosen’s deputy and who was also on the call.
Barr, who had adamantly refused to do so, later admitted that there may have been some personal prejudices at play. He told ABC reporter Jonathan Karl that he expected Trump to lose well in advance of the Nov. 3 election.
Although Barr gave the appearance of pursuing vote-fraud leads in the election’s immediate aftermath, he insisted in at least one significant instance, that a US Attorney representing the Philadelphia area remain quiet about vote-fraud probes and hand them over to the deeply partisan, overtly anti-Trump state attorney general.
Barr may have been resentful of Trump’s public criticism about several DOJ investigations—including the Durham report, which Trump was eager to see released during his presidency, and a damning investigation into Hunter Biden that the department actively concealed prior to the election.
The notes of the Dec. 27 call, released Friday by the House Oversight Committee, underscore the lengths to which Trump went to try to elicit the support of senior government officials in his effort to right the abuses that were evident in the election.
Emails released last month show Trump and his allies even a draft legal brief they hoped would be filed with the Supreme Court.
But the partisan chair of the Oversight Committee and two-time Trump impeachment manager, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, insisted it was all part of what Democrats have repeatedly labeled the “Big Lie”—a term borrowed from Adolf Hitler.
“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.
She said the committee had begun scheduling interviews with witnesses as part of its investigation into Trump’s effort to correct the election outcome.
The Justice Department earlier this week authorized six witnesses, including Rosen and Donoghue, to appear before the panel and provide “unrestricted testimony,” citing the public interest in the “extraordinary events” of those final weeks.
After Barr had resigned, Rosen was left in charge of the department during a turbulent final weeks of the administration that also included the Jan. 6 pro-Trump uprising at the U.S. Capitol.
During the call, according to the notes, Trump complained that people were “angry” and blaming the Justice Department for “inaction” and said that “We have an obligation to tell people that this was an illegal, corrupt election.”
The Justice Department officials told Trump that the department had been investigating, including through hundreds of interviews, but that the allegations were not supported by evidence. They said that much of the information the president was getting was “false,” according to Donoghue’s notes.
At one point in the conversation, the notes show, Rosen told Trump that the Justice Department “can’t + won’t snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way.”
Trump responded by saying: “Don’t expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” according to the notes.
Trump mused during the call about replacing Justice Department leadership with Jeffrey Clark, the then-assistant attorney general of the Environment and Natural Resources Division who also served as the acting head of the Civil Division.
Donoghue replied that such a move would not change the department’s position.
After the New York Times reported that Trump had been contemplating a plan to replace Rosen with Clark, the inspector general announced that it would investigate whether any former or current department officials “engaged in an improper attempt” to overturn the results of the presidential election.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press