The United States Senate released a report on Thursday that contains new details on former President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign on the Department of Justice to aid him in his plot to steal the 2020 election.
“Justice Department officials scrambled to stave off a series of events during a period when Mr. Trump was getting advice about blocking certification of the election from a lawyer he had first seen on television and the president’s actions were so unsettling that his top general and the House speaker discussed the nuclear chain of command,” The New York Times reported.
The report focuses on a meeting that took place in the Oval Office on January 3rd – three days before the January 6th Capitol insurrection – between Trump and then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, and Byung Pak, a now-former United States attorney in Atlanta.
Georgia was and continues to be one of several states in which Trump has baselessly disputed his loss to President Joe Biden.
According to the report, Trump wanted to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark – a loyalist Justice Department official who supported Trump’s Big Lie – as part of his last-ditch scheme to stay in office.
Clark, at the behest of Trump, pressured his superiors to send a letter to Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger falsely claiming that “significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election” in exchange for Trump installing him as the acting attorney general.
“I reminded [Clark] that I was his boss, that he was apparently continuing to violate the White House contact policy, that that letter was never going out while we were in charge of the Department,” Donoghue said. “And I sort of orally reprimanded him on a number of points, including reaching out to witnesses, and [said] ‘Who told you to conduct investigations and interview witnesses,’ and things like that. I was getting very heated. And then he turned to Acting AG Rosen, and he said, ‘Well, the President has offered me the position of Acting Attorney General. I told him I would let him know my decision on Monday. I need to think about that a little bit more.'”
This “murder-suicide pact,” one attendee called it, fizzled after then-White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his staff – along with other Justice Department personnel – threatened to resign if Trump followed through.
“This report shows the American people just how close we came to a constitutional crisis,” Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, 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.”
Durbin added that Trump would have “shredded the Constitution to stay in power.”
The Judiciary Committee also found that before he resigned in December, then-Attorney General Bill Barr had ordered the Justice Department to pursue Trump’s claims about election fraud “even if other authorities had looked into them and not found evidence of wrongdoing,” the Times noted.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.