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

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

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.

WE CAME UP SHORT.

We just wrapped up a shorter-than-normal, urgent-as-ever fundraising drive and we came up about $45,000 short of our $300,000 goal.

That means we're going to have upwards of $350,000, maybe more, to raise in online donations between now and June 30, when our fiscal year ends and we have to get to break-even. And even though there's zero cushion to miss the mark, we won't be all that in your face about our fundraising again until June.

So we urgently need this specific ask, what you're reading right now, to start bringing in more donations than it ever has. The reality, for these next few months and next few years, is that we have to start finding ways to grow our online supporter base in a big way—and we're optimistic we can keep making real headway by being real with you about this.

Because the bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. The only investors who won’t let independent, investigative journalism down are the people who actually care about its future—you.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

payment methods

WE CAME UP SHORT.

We just wrapped up a shorter-than-normal, urgent-as-ever fundraising drive and we came up about $45,000 short of our $300,000 goal.

That means we're going to have upwards of $350,000, maybe more, to raise in online donations between now and June 30, when our fiscal year ends and we have to get to break-even. And even though there's zero cushion to miss the mark, we won't be all that in your face about our fundraising again until June.

So we urgently need this specific ask, what you're reading right now, to start bringing in more donations than it ever has. The reality, for these next few months and next few years, is that we have to start finding ways to grow our online supporter base in a big way—and we're optimistic we can keep making real headway by being real with you about this.

Because the bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. The only investors who won’t let independent, investigative journalism down are the people who actually care about its future—you.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

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