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In the weeks after the 2020 presidential election and his definitive loss, Donald Trump repeatedly pressured officials at the US Department of Justice to pursue baseless allegations of voter fraud and election-related conspiracy theories, newly-released emails reveal.
The president also told top Justice Department officials to file a legal brief at the US Supreme Court to reject millions of ballots in states that he lost, according to emails obtained by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
As states convened to certify Electoral College results on 14 December, Mr Trump’s staff emailed then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen about an alleged “cover up” and voter fraud in a Michigan county – the same claims made in a lawsuit tossed out by a federal judge a week earlier.
Minutes after Mr Trump’s aide sent those documents to Mr Rosen, the same documents were sent to federal prosecutors in Michigan.
Among them: false claims that voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems were “intentionally and purposefully” manipulated to create fraudulent results, allegations that the company has used in multi-billion dollar lawsuits against Trump associates and right-wing media networks.
Mr Trump then posted on Twitter that then-Attorney General William Barr – who publicly stated that federal officials have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud – would be stepping down and replaced with Mr Rosen.
On 29 December, a White House assistant emailed Justice Department officials with a draft of a legal brief to be filed at the US Supreme Court to “declare that the Electoral College votes cast” in six states that Mr Trump lost “cannot be counted”.
He also requested the court hold “special elections” in those states.
The emails reveal the depth of Mr Trump’s attempts within the White House to reject the outcome of the 2020 election and to influence Mr Rosen before he stepped into the top role at the Justice Department.
Days before the halls of Congress were breached by a pro-Trump mob, fuelled by a “stolen election” narrative amplified by Mr Trump for months even before a single ballot was cast, Mr Trump met with Mr Rosen and other Justice Department officials to pressure them to challenge election results.
Previously reported emails from Mr Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows also reveal his attempts to substantiate QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theories and other debunked election fraud narratives, including emailing a link to a YouTube video to Justice Department officials about US election data compromised by Italian intelligence in coordination with the CIA.
Emails show that Mr Rosen resisted calls to look into the Italy conspiracy theory or speak with Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, who pursued a spurious legal campaign to suppress millions of Americans’ votes.
“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,” Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said in a statement.
“Those who aided or witnessed President Trump’s unlawful actions must answer the Committee’s questions about this attempted subversion of democracy,” she said.
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