Former President Donald Trump is defending comments he reportedly made to Department of Justice officials concerning the November election as an illustration of his effort to preserve honest elections, even as his critics say notes from December reveal Trump stepped over the line.
Justice Department official Richard Donoghue made notes of a Dec. 27 conversation between Trump and then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who served in the office after the resignation of William Barr.
The notes were sent to Congress and made public Friday, according to The Washington Post.
The notes say Rosen told Trump that his department “can’t + won’t snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election.”
The written account includes a reply from Trump, saying that he understood.
The notes then claim that Trump continued the debate over how far the department could go by telling Rosen he wanted the Justice Department to “just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”
David Laufman, a former senior Justice Department official, attacked Trump for reportedly trying to get his way.
“These notes reveal that a sitting president, defeated in a free and fair election, personally and repeatedly pressured Justice Department leaders to help him foment a coup in a last-ditch attempt to cling to power,” Laufman told the Post.
“And that should shock the conscience of every American, regardless of political persuasion,” he said.
Not so fast, the former president said in a statement.
“The corrupt and highly partisan House Democrats who run the House Oversight Committee yesterday released documents — including court filings dealing with the rigged election of 2020—that they dishonestly described as attempting to overturn the election,” Trump said, according to The Hill.
“In fact, it is just the opposite. The documents were meant to uphold the integrity and honesty of elections and the sanctity of our vote,” he added
“The American People want, and demand, that the President of the United States, its chief law enforcement officer in the country, stand with them to fight for Election Integrity and to investigate attempts to undermine our nation.”
Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, attacked Trump for reportedly trying to convince the Justice Department that he was right.
The 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,” she told the Post.
To maximize the potential of the notes, Maloney said her panel “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,” she said.