NATIONAL NEWS

Report details Trump’s all-out bid to undo election results

Oct 7, 2021, 10:40 AM
FILE: Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on September 25, 2021 in Perry, Georgia. Repu...
FILE: Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on September 25, 2021 in Perry, Georgia. Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, Georgia Secretary of State candidate Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), and Georgia Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Burt Jones (R-GA) also appeared as guests at the rally. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A report by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Democratic majority details Donald Trump’s extraordinary effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election that he lost, with the Justice Department brought to the brink of chaos and top officials there and at the White House threatening to resign.

The report released Thursday offers new insight about how the Republican incumbent tried to undo the vote and exert his will on the department, asking leaders to declare the election “corrupt” and disparaging its top official for not doing anything to overturn the results. Trump’s actions led to a near-revolt at department headquarters that receded only after senior officials warned of a mass resignation, with one White House lawyer describing the efforts to undo the election as a “murder-suicide pact.”

“In attempting to enlist DOJ for personal, political purposes in an effort to maintain his hold on the White House, Trump grossly abused the power of the presidency” and arguably violated a federal law that prevents anyone from commanding that federal employees engage in political activity, the report says.

While the broad outlines of what took place after the Nov. 3 election have long been known, the Senate investigation based on a review of documents and interviews with former officials lays bare the extent of Trump’s all-out campaign to remain in the White House. It shows how Trump benefited from the support of a little-known Justice Department lawyer who championed the then-president’s efforts to challenge the vote but how, in the end, other senior officials stood together to face down Trump. The outcome suggests how reliant the fragile U.S. election system is on the integrity of government officials.

Trump’s effort, now the subject of a Justice Department inspector general investigation, did not succeed and Biden took office on Jan. 20. Even so, the false claims over the election have fractured the nation, with millions of Americans wrongly believing the contest was stolen.

Rage about the election compelled a mass of Trump supporters to violently storm the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to disrupt the congressional certification of Biden’s victory. The rioters beat and bloodied an overwhelmed police force, sent lawmakers running for their lives and caused $1 million in damage. More than 630 people have been charged criminally in the riot, the largest prosecution in Justice Department history.

Republicans, who have mostly stayed loyal to Trump since the insurrection, issued their own report that downplays the concerns raised by Democrats and paints Trump as a hero who ignored suggestions by an assistant attorney general, Jeffrey Clark, and who refused to fire top Justice Department officials. Their rebuttal makes the astonishing claim that Trump was concerned about the election system writ large and not about himself, even though he was publicly fighting to stay in office and pressured Vice President Mike Pence to help him.

The Democrats’ report chronicles Trump’s relentless prodding of the Justice Department during a turbulent stretch in late December and early January to investigate suspected voter fraud and to support his efforts to undo the results. Trump had laid the groundwork for that effort even before the election when he attacked the vote-by-mail process.

But he escalated it significantly after Election Day and particularly after the December resignation of Attorney General William Barr, who weeks before he left the Justice Department told The Associated Press that the department had not found fraud that could affect the outcome of the election.

In one White House meeting recounted for Senate investigators, Jeffrey Rosen, who served as Barr’s deputy and briefly led the department after Barr left, described how Trump, in an effort to initiate a department inquiry, showed videos of “somebody delivering a suitcase of ballots.”

Rosen said he recalled saying to Trump, “I really want to suggest to you, sir, respectfully, that it would be a better thing for everyone to use this last month to focus on some of the things that had been accomplished in the last four years, a — tax reform and the vaccine, Operation Warp Speed, and not go into this ‘the election was corrupt.’”

The pressure campaign by Trump and his allies included a draft brief the White House wanted the Justice Department to file with the Supreme Court to overturn the election results. The department refused to file the document, which the Senate report describes as raising a “litany of false and debunked claims.”

The conflict culminated in a contentious, hourslong meeting at the White House on Jan. 3 in which Trump openly considered replacing Rosen as acting attorney general with Clark, an assistant attorney general. The Democrats’ report says Trump told Rosen: “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election.”

Clark had positioned himself as more sympathetic to pursuing Trump’s fraud claims even though the results were certified by states and Republican election officials. Courts rejected dozens of legal challenges to the election and Barr, Trump’s own attorney general, had said Biden won fairly.

Clark declined to be interviewed voluntarily by the committee.

But several officials in the Jan. 3 meeting told Trump they would resign if he put Clark in charge at the Justice Department. According to witnesses interviewed by the Senate committee’s majority staff, White House counsel Pat Cipollone referred to a draft letter from Clark pushing Georgia officials to convene a special legislative session on the election results as a “murder-suicide pact.” Cipollone threatened to quit.

Richard Donoghue, who was Rosen’s deputy at the time, replied there was “no chance” he would sign that letter or “anything remotely like that.” Donoghue told the committee that he told Trump that all of the assistant attorneys general, and perhaps U.S. attorneys and other senior department officials, would resign en masse if the president were to replace Rosen with Clark.

Georgia emerged as a particular area of focus for Trump, who sought the removal of the top prosecutor in Atlanta, BJay Pak, claiming that he was a “never Trumper,” according to the report. Pak had originally planned to stay on in the position until Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, but resigned weeks earlier than that because of the pressure from Trump.

Besides Clark, Trump found another ally in Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., who has disputed the validity of Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania and called Donoghue on Dec. 27 to say the department wasn’t doing its job with respect to the elections. Perry encouraged Donoghue to call on Clark to help because he’s “the kind of guy who could really get in there and do something about this,” according to the report.

___

Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - APRIL 11:  Passengers check in at the ticket counter for Frontier Airlines Ap...
Ramishah Maruf, CNN

Frontier Airlines no longer has a customer service phone line

Customers who need flight information or want to make changes to travel plans can no longer call Frontier Airlines and speak to an agent, the company confirmed to CNN Saturday.
15 hours ago
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft atop is seen as Space X and NASA....
Ashley Strickland and Jackie Wattles, CNN

SpaceX launches tomato seeds, other supplies to International Space Station

SpaceX is carrying a fresh haul of supplies to the International Space Station this weekend after bad weather at the launch site forced the company to wave off its first attempt.
15 hours ago
Portland police car seen outside of Portland Police Department building....
Taylor Evans, KPTV

‘We were just talking to him’: 2 Portland men find their brother just after hit, injured by car

A 23-year-old Portland man is in critical condition after being struck by a vehicle in southeast Portland on Sunday.
15 hours ago
Kari Lake on podium at election night event....
JONATHAN J. COOPER Associated Press

Lake seeks election records in suit against Arizona county

Kari Lake, the defeated Republican candidate for Arizona governor, has filed a public records lawsuit demanding Maricopa County hand over a variety of documents related to the election. Lake has refused to acknowledge that she lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs and has for weeks drawn attention to voters who said they experienced long lines and difficulties while voting on Election Day in Arizona's largest county. Her lawyer, Tim LaSota, says in the suit filed Wednesday that the county has not fulfilled public records requests filed on Nov. 15 and 16. The requests seek to identify voters who may have had trouble casting a ballot.
15 hours ago
A view of the Canadian flag during day one of the Platinum Jubilee Royal Tour of Canada on May 17, ...
Associated Press

Canada paramedic unknowingly treated daughter in fatal crash

 A Canadian paramedic who unknowingly treated her own daughter after a fatal crash brushed away tears as she remembered a beautiful girl who fought until the end. Jayme Erickson was called to the crash north of Calgary on Nov. 15 and sat with a seriously injured girl who was was extricated from the vehicle and taken to hospital, where she died. It wasn't until Erickson got home at the end of the day that she was met by Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, who told her the patient was her 17-year-old daughter, Montana.
15 hours ago
Bodycam video released by authorities shows the good Samaritan trying to help the man on the tracks...
Tavleen Tarrant, CNN

Good Samaritan, NYPD officers rescue man from subway tracks moments before train arrives

A good Samaritan, who was at the right place at the right time, and a team of New York City officers who rushed on scene rescued a man who fell on the subway tracks just seconds before an incoming train arrived, police said.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Report details Trump’s all-out bid to undo election results