In testimonial earlier the committee of January 6 ThursdayFormer Justice Department officials described a 90-minute phone call with then-President Donald Trump in late December 2020, in which Trump pleaded with them to declare the election “corrupt” despite being told his fraud claims were false .
During the Dec. 27, 2020 phone call with then-U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, Trump put forth a litany of false accusations about voter fraud. The former officials told the panel that they investigated every claim and found that they had no merit, but Trump continued to vent them.
Donoghue said he tried in vain to “educate” Trump.
“I felt it was our duty in that conversation to make it clear to the president what our investigation revealed,” recalled Donoghue. “I wanted to try and cut the noise because it was clear to us that there were a lot of people whispering in his ear feeding him these conspiracy theories and I felt that being very blunt in that conversation could help make it clear to the president that these allegations simply weren’t true.”
Donoghue said that as Trump went through an “arsenal of accusations,” he told the president, “No, that’s incorrect,” one at a time, in a “serious way as he went from one theory to another.”
One of the allegations Donoghue said that Trump was “so fixated on” was a report that claimed there was a 68% error rate in a Michigan county’s counting machines. Donoghue said a hand recount showed there was one error in more than 15,000 votes cast.
Donoghue said he notified the president of the 0.0063% error rate.
“So that, Mr. President, is an example of what people are telling you that isn’t true,” Donoghue recalled to Trump.
The committee showed handwritten notes that Donoghue took during the conversation with Trump.
According to the notes, Rosen at one point told Trump that “the DOJ cannot and will not snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election.”
“That’s not what I’m asking you to do,” Trump replied. “What I’m asking you to do is just say” [the election] was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
“We have a duty to tell people that this was an illegal, corrupt election,” Trump continued, according to Donoghue’s notes.
Donoghue said that while there were “isolated” cases of voter fraud, “none of them came close” to influencing the outcome of the election.
The hearing was the fifth in a series of presentations by the House’s select committee of findings that emerged from its 11-month investigation into the events surrounding the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol.
Thursday’s panel focused specifically on Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to help him undermine his election loss in the weeks leading up to the uprising.