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Trump Pressed The Justice Department To Reverse The Election Results, Documents Show

Former President Donald Trump addresses the North Carolina Republican Party's annual state convention on June 5.
Melissa Sue Gerrits
Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump addresses the North Carolina Republican Party's annual state convention on June 5.

Updated June 15, 2021 at 2:43 PM ET

A batch of emails released by the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee appears to paint a clearer picture of how former President Donald Trump and his allies attempted to pressure the U.S. Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

The232 pages of documents detail the unprecedented pressure campaign that Trump, along with his chief of staff and other allies, conducted to get senior officials at the Justice Department to challenge the results of the election in the face of Trump's loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

In one example, Trump directed sham claims of voter fraud to then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen less than an hour before the president tweeted that Attorney General William Barr — who publicly stated that there was not evidence of widespread election fraud — would be stepping down and replaced by Rosen.

The newly released emails also highlight multiple conspiracy theories surrounding election fraud pushed by then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. On Dec. 30, 2020, Meadows emailed Rosen a translation of a document that alleged there was a plot in which U.S. election data was altered in Italian facilities and loaded onto "military satellites" and that Trump was "clearly the winner."

After Meadows sent Rosen a YouTube link on Jan. 1 detailing the conspiracy theory, Rosen forwarded the email to then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, who replied: "Pure insanity."

The cache of documents reveal that Meadows emailed Rosen multiple times to share unverified allegations of election fraud or to ask him to take steps to change the election results.

The documents also highlight how Trump used official White House channels, along with a private attorney, to hound the Justice Department to file a lawsuit in the Supreme Court with the aim of having the court declare that the Electoral College vote counts in six states that Trump lost could not be tallied. The draft complaint — circulated by Trump's White House assistant to Rosen, Donoghue and Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall — requested that the court order a "special election" for president in those six states.

The release of the documents to the public comes after the committee submitted a request in late May to the Justice Department for documents related to the Trump administration's efforts to overturn the election.

"These documents show that President Trump tried to corrupt our nation's chief law enforcement agency in a brazen attempt to overturn an election that he lost," Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said in a statement Tuesday. "Those who aided or witnessed President Trump's unlawful actions must answer the Committee's questions about this attempted subversion of democracy."

The Oversight Committee will hold its second hearing on the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection on Tuesday afternoon and has requested that several former Trump administration officials appear for a "transcribed interview" on the efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Those people are: Meadows; Donoghue, who served as acting deputy attorney general at the time; former Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark; former Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian; and former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung Jin Pak.

Trump and allies also pressured state officials in Georgia to overturn the election results there. In December 2020, Trump personally called a Georgia law enforcement official and asked her to find evidence of voter fraud, and then in early January 2021 he asked the secretary of state to "find" enough votes for him to win. In February, the Fulton County district attorney announced a criminal probe into Trump's actions to interfere with Georgia's election results.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.

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