Oct 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate panel releases most detailed report yet on Trump's DOJ pressure campaign

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

An interim Senate report reveals new details about former President Trump's efforts to exploit the Justice Department to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including how top DOJ officials threatened to resign en masse over Trump's push to install a loyalist as acting attorney general.

Why it matters: The 394-page report from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee marks the most extensive public investigation to date into Trump's pressure campaign in the wake of the 2020 election, drawing on interviews with three top former DOJ officials and hundreds of pages of emails, calendars and other documents.

Key findings: The committee will continue to seek witness interviews and records from the Trump White House but released six primary findings based on current records and interviews with former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, and former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung Jin Pak.

  1. Trump directly raised discredited claims of election fraud and asked why the DOJ wasn't doing more to address them in at least nine calls and meetings with Rosen and/or Donoghue.
  2. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows asked Rosen to launch fraud investigations based on at least four unsubstantiated claims, including a conspiracy theory alleging that electoral data was changed in Italian facilities with the knowledge of the CIA.
  3. Little-known DOJ official Jeffrey Clark told Rosen and Donoghue that Trump had offered to install him as acting attorney general, but that he would turn the president down if Rosen and Donoghue backed his scheme to intervene in the Georgia certification process. Rosen and Donoghue eventually told Trump that senior DOJ officials would resign en masse if he followed through.
  4. Trump allies with ties to the "Stop the Steal" movement, including Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) and Trump campaign legal adviser Cleta Mitchell, participated in the DOJ pressure campaign.
  5. Trump forced Pak's resignation on Jan. 4 because he investigated and did not substantiate claims of fraud in Georgia. Trump went outside the line of succession to appoint a new acting U.S. attorney who he believed would "do something" about his fraud claims.
  6. DOJ "deviated from longstanding practice" by pursuing voter fraud investigations before votes were certified, politicizing the agency.

What to watch: In addition to recommending new policies to strengthen the firewall between DOJ and the White House, the committee recommended that Clark be investigated by the D.C. Bar and said it will share findings with the House Jan. 6 Select Committee to help investigate ties between the pressure campaign and the Capitol attack.

The other side: Republicans on the committee issued their own report based on the same witness material, concluding that Trump "listened to his senior DOJ and White House advisors at every step of the fact pattern presented by this investigation and that he did not weaponize DOJ for his personal or campaign purposes."

Explore the full Democratic report.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include reference to Senate Judiciary Republicans' minority report on the investigation.

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