According to the department’s leadership at the time, former President Donald Trump wanted to use the US Justice Department to contest the results of the 2020 presidential election. At a hearing in the House of Representatives on Thursday, then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy Richard Donoghue described how Trump exerted enormous pressure on them. He also threatened to reassign the ministry to the agency to take action against alleged voter fraud, he told the investigative committee into the storming of the US Capitol in January 2021.
Rosen said that during his short tenure at the helm of the ministry from December 23, 2020 to January 3, 2021, Trump called and video chats with him almost every day. Donoghue said Trump had “an arsenal of allegations” about alleged voter fraud “on which he wanted to base himself.” The president has urged the Justice Department to investigate. However, these were baseless allegations or conspiracy theories. “These allegations were simply baseless,” Donoghue said. Rosen insisted that the Justice Department followed the law and the facts.
The entire leadership is said to have threatened the President with his resignation.
Donoghue said that among other things, Trump tried to write a letter to the department declaring that the election was corrupt. Trump said he and his Republican allies in Congress would then “rest” — that is, reversing the legitimate election result.
Trump threatened to replace Rosen with top official Jeffrey Clark, who was prepared to use the agency to undermine the election, due to the department’s refusal to support him. In a dramatic White House meeting on January 3, it was made clear to Trump that almost the entire top management of the ministry would resign immediately in the matter, Rosen and Donoghue said in unison.
Rosen and Donoghue took office for the final weeks of Trump’s term in December 2020, when Attorney General William Barr tendered his resignation amid controversy over the outcome of the presidential election. To this day, Trump claims without evidence that he was denied victory through fraud in the November 2020 election. Protests against the election results ended with an attack on the Capitol, the seat of parliament, on 6 January.
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