We’re learning a lot of rich and strange details about Donald Trump’s final months in office, thanks to an onslaught of books with lots of juicy dirt. But this most recent bit comes from some simple reporting. The New York Times reported on some new documents provided to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. And it seems that, in late December, the now-former president was so desperate to retain power that he pressed the DOJ to simply claim it was corrupt and let him work his underhanded magic.
The exchange happened on December 27, a week and a half before the fateful events of Jan. 6. It found Trump leaning on Jeffrey A. Rosen, the acting attorney general. His predecessor, the recently departed William Barr, despite having done plenty for Trump, had refused to go that extra mile. Neither did Rosen, it seems, but not without Trump trying.
“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me,” Trump asked Rosen, according to notes taken by Rosen’s deputy, Richard P. Donaghue. By “me,” he was also referring to other congressional allies, though he did not specify any by name. That said, at other points during the call he name-checked such noted congressional Trumpists as Jim Jordan, Ron Johnson, and Scott Perry, the latter a representative from Pennsylvania.
Both Jordan and Johnson have denied any role in Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn the election, while Perry — one of a number of lawmakers who still claim Trump won, despite lack of evidence — did not respond to requests for comment.
While this may seem like typical Trump antics, New York representative Carolyn B. Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, saw them as hard proof of something truly dastardly. “These handwritten notes,” she said in a statement, “show that President Trump directly instructed our nation’s top law enforcement agency to take steps to overturn a free and fair election in the final days of his presidency.”