Newly released emails show Trump pressured DOJ to overturn election results

Edited By: Vyomica Berry WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Jun 15, 2021, 09:46 PM(IST)

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 28, 2021. At their three-day gathering, pro-Trump conservatives tried to turn “cancel culture” into their new “fake news” and spent little time on policy (either their own or President Joe Biden’s). (Erin Schaff © 2021 The New York Times) Photograph:( The New York Times )

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The House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee, which obtained the records as part of an investigation, outlined a series of overtures made by the Republican former president, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and an outside private attorney, Kurt Olsen, pushing the department to act on Trump's claims

During the last weeks of his presidency, Donald Trump and his allies pressured the Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of widespread 2020 election fraud, despite his former attorney general declaring there was no evidence of it, newly released emails show.

The House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee, which obtained the records as part of an investigation, outlined a series of overtures made by the Republican former president, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and an outside private attorney, Kurt Olsen, pushing the department to act on Trump's claims.

The department ultimately did not join the effort and numerous courts rejected lawsuits seeking to overturn election results in various states.

In pics-Tear gas, explosives and gunfire: Trump supporters storm Capitol, clash with police

Congress also is investigating the deadly January 6 assault on the US Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters trying to stop the formal certification of Democratic President Joe Biden's election victory.

"These documents show that President Trump tried to corrupt our nation's chief law enforcement agency in a brazen attempt to overturn an election that he lost," said Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat.

These overtures were separate from the revelations that the Trump-era Justice Department secretly sought the phone records of at least two Democratic lawmakers, a move that led Biden's Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday to vow to strengthen policies aiming to protect the department from political influence.

The department under outgoing Attorney General William Barr, who left his post on December 23, and his short-term replacement Jeffrey Rosen decided not to act on the false claims of voting fraud. Biden took office on January 21.

Also see| US election 2020: Key moments of Donald Trump's presidential tenure

The emails showed that Meadows asked Justice Department officials to investigate an unfounded conspiracy theory called "Italygate" alleging that US electoral data was changed in Italian facilities with the knowledge of the CIA.

On January 1, Meadows sent Rosen a link to a YouTube video detailing the theory. Rosen forwarded the email to then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, who replied: "Pure insanity."

The documents also showed that Trump pressured Rosen when he was deputy attorney general to have the Justice Department take up the election fraud claims.

The emails showed Rosen declined to arrange a meeting between Justice Department officials and Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani about his false claims that the November election was stolen from Trump. Meadows had asked Rosen to help arrange the proposed meeting with Giuliani, the emails showed.

"I flatly refused, said I would not be giving any special treatment to Giuliani or any of his 'witnesses,' and re-affirmed yet again that I will not talk to Giuliani about any of this," Rosen wrote to a Justice Department colleague on January 1.

Giuliani had played a prominent role in promoting Trump's false election claims.

Trump, through an assistant, sent Rosen a December 14 email with documents purporting to show evidence of election fraud in northern Michigan, a debunked allegation that a federal judge had already rejected.

Two weeks later, on December 29, Trump's White House assistant emailed Rosen, who by then was the acting attorney general, and other Justice Department lawyers a draft legal brief that they were urged to file at the US Supreme Court.

The department never filed the brief. Emails released by the House committee showed that Olsen, a Maryland lawyer involved in writing Trump's draft brief, repeatedly tried to meet with Rosen but was unsuccessful.

The draft brief backed by Trump argued that changes made by the states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania to voting procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic to expand mail-in voting were unlawful. Biden won all those states

Similar arguments were made in a lawsuit filed by Ken Paxton, the Republican attorney general of Texas and a Trump ally. The US Supreme Court rejected that long-shot lawsuit in December.

The document release comes ahead of the House Oversight committee’s hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray and General Charles Flynn, brother of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has also voiced Trump’s election conspiracy theories.

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