The Senate Judiciary Committee in a report released Thursday revealed new information about how Trump tried to pressure Department of Justice officials to back up his claims of election fraud, leading top officials to threaten resignation.
The report, issued by the Democratic majority, says that Trump “directly and repeatedly asked DOJ’s acting leadership to initiate investigations, file lawsuits on his behalf, and publicly declare the 2020 election ‘corrupt.'”
The report describes a meeting that took place January 3rd between Trump and DOJ officials, including then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue. According to Rosen, Trump began the meeting by saying, “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election.”
For the next three hours of the meeting, Trump discussed his plan to replace Rosen with Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who had said he would investigate the president’s voter fraud claims. But, according to the report, Donoghue and another DOJ official told the president that “all of the Assistant Attorneys General would resign” if he put Clark in Rosen’s place. Nevertheless, Trump continued to entertain the idea until the last 15 minutes of the meeting, when he finally abandoned it.
He may not have installed Clark in Rosen’s place, but Trump continued to press the DOJ to pursue election fraud claims in Georgia, even telling Donoghue that he knew of a “DHS Special Agent [who] was in possession of a truck full of shredded ballots outside of Atlanta.” Those ballots, it turned out, were from past elections and were being moved to make room to store 2020 ballots, per the county’s record retention procedures.
“This report shows the American people just how close we came to a constitutional crisis,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement. “Thanks to a number of upstanding Americans in the Department of Justice, Donald Trump was unable to bend the department to his will. But it was not due to a lack of effort.”
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee didn’t agree, issuing their own report on Thursday claiming that Trump “did not weaponize DOJ for his personal or campaign purposes.”
The Judiciary Committee’s report follows earlier reports that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who led the charge on election fraud claims, admitted in a sworn deposition that he barely spent any time reviewing allegations against Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer before publicly saying he was involved in election fraud. Coomer is suing the campaign and Trump’s allies for defamation.
During the deposition, a lawyer asked Giuliani that if he were to bill the campaign, how much time would he bill? “Before the press conference, gosh almighty, I bet it’s not an hour,” Giuliani replied before admitting he only spent “minutes” reviewing the claims. “You would have to do one of those things lawyers hate to do,” Giuliani said. “You would have to take like three minutes here, two minutes here, five minutes here, two minutes here, and then what does that equal?”