Washington, D.C. July 30, 2021—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, released handwritten notes taken by then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard P. Donoghue of a December 27, 2020, phone call with former President Donald J. Trump and former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. These notes reveal attempts by former President Trump to directly pressure the two most senior officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to overturn the certified results of the 2020 election or risk losing their jobs.
Chairwoman Maloney issued the following statement in light of the new revelations:
“These handwritten notes 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,” Chairwoman Maloney said. “The Committee has begun scheduling interviews with key witnesses to investigate the full extent of the former President’s corruption, and I will exercise every tool at my disposal to ensure all witness testimony is secured without delay.”
The handwritten notes of the December 27, 2020, meeting provide additional evidence that former President Trump pressured top DOJ officials to take official action to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Trump Urged DOJ to Call Election “Illegal” and “Corrupt” and Implied He Might Replace Agency Leadership
- The notes include the following exchange, attributable to former President Trump (“P”) and Mr. Rosen, who was Deputy Attorney General (“DAG”) prior to his appointment as Acting Attorney General a few days before the call:
- “- DAG … ‘understand that the DOJ can’t + won’t snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way.’” (p. 4)
- “ – P: ‘Don’t expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.’” (pp. 4-5).
- The notes also include the following statement by former President Trump:
- “‘We have an obligation to tell people that this was an illegal, corrupt election.’”
- “People tell me Jeff Clark is great, I should put him in. People want me to replace DOJ leadership.” (p. 6)
Trump Advanced Voter Fraud Claims Debunked by DOJ
- The notes include several other statements from President Trump alleging voter fraud and urging DOJ to take action in response:
- “People are angry – blaming DOJ + for inaction” (p. 2)
- “DOJ failing to respond to legitimate complaints / report of crimes” (p. 3)
- “‘You guys may not be following the internet the way I do’” (p. 3)
- “P – this is electioneering fraud” (p. 6)
- The notes show that President Trump advanced these claims even though Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue repeatedly informed him that his allegations of voter fraud were false:
- “Sir we have done dozens of investig., hundreds of interviews, major allegations are not supported by evid. developed.” (p. 5)
- “We are doing our job. Much of the info you’re getting is false.” (p. 5)
- “Told him flat out that much of the info he is getting is false, +/or just not supported by the evidence – we look at allegations but they do not pan out.” (p. 6)
- The December 27, 2020, notes contain the following additional statements attributable to the former President:
- “You figure out what to do w/ H. Biden—people will criticize the DOJ if he’s not investigated for real.” (p. 4)
- “These people who saying that the election isn’t corrupt are corrupt.” (p. 7)
- “Not much time left” (p. 7)
Top White House and DOJ Officials Discussed Conspiracy Theories
The Committee also obtained Mr. Donoghue’s handwritten notes of a December 29, 2020, meeting with “C of S, WH Counsel (PC+PP), DAG, RPD, SE,” which may refer to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin, Mr. Rosen, Mr. Donoghue, and Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel.
The notes contain references to debunked claims that an employee at an Italian defense contractor, Arturo D’Elio, coordinated with U.S. intelligence to change election results. With regard to Mr. D’Elio, the notes read:
- “RPD to check his background / FBI+”
- “claims involvement in vote change in US 2020”
- “claims in coordination w/ CIA offices in Embassy – Via Venetto – US Embassy, Rome”
The notes also state:
- “PA – election issue – advised that we are looking at the claim that certification > # of votes cast.”
On May 21, 2021, the Committee sent a letter to DOJ requesting documents relating to President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and a letter requesting a transcribed interview with Former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
On June 15, 2021, the Committee released 229 pages of documents from DOJ showing the extent of President Trump and his allies’ improper efforts to interfere with the 2020 election.
In light of these revelations, the Committee requested that Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Former Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian, Former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung Jin Pak, and Former Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Bobby Christine appear for transcribed interviews.
On July 26, 2021, DOJ authorized six witnesses to appear before the Committee, stating that the Committee has “compelling legislative interests” in understanding the “extraordinary events” surrounding President Trump’s conduct. DOJ authorized these officials to provide “unrestricted testimony” to the Committee without asserting claims of privilege.