Trump to DOJ: “Just Say That the Election Was Corrupt” and “Leave the Rest to Me”

The new information comes from contemporaneous notes taken by Trump’s acting deputy attorney general.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

President Donald Trump pressured top Justice Department officials to say that the election was corrupt so that he and Congressional Republicans could use the finding to help overturn President Joe Biden’s victory, according to documents shared with lawmakers and obtained by the New York Times.

The Times reports:

The demands were an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with an agency that is typically more independent from the White House to advance his personal agenda. They are also the latest example of Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging campaign during his final weeks in office to delegitimize the election results.

The exchange unfolded during a phone call on Dec. 27 in which Mr. Trump pressed the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, on voter fraud claims that the department had disproved. Mr. Donoghue warned that the department had no power to change the outcome of the election.

Donoghue took notes to document the call. He summarized Trump as stating: “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and allies in Congress. The Justice Department gave Donoghue’s notes to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating Trump’s effort to overthrow the election.

As part of that effort, Trump pushed Donoghue to go to Fulton County, Georgia, to verify signatures on ballots. The Justice Department officials stressed to the president that there was no evidence to support his claims about the election being rigged.

Trump was not convinced and responded by attacking his attorney general and deputy attorney general. “You guys may not be following the internet the way I do,” he said, according to the document obtained by the Times. Trump also threatened to replace Donoghue and Rosen with someone more willing to overturn the election.

Beyond the election results, Trump wanted Donoghue and Rosen to investigate President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Two days later, his chief of staff and White House counsel met with Justice Department officials to discuss a baseless conspiracy theory that people in Italy had manipulated US voting machines.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate