GOP complaints about voting procedures in Michigan, phantom “anomalies” on ballots in Georgia, and Italian satellite hackers: Emails released by the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday show to what ridiculous extremes officials in Donald Trump’s White House went to enlist the Department of Justice in its attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.
There’s never been any substantive evidence whatsoever that Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race was due to fraud: It’s been debunked time and again, by everyone from Trump’s own DOJ chief to local election officials. Yet Trump spent the weeks after the election cooking up a series of fruitless, conspiracy theory-filled lawsuits in various states attempting to have the results tossed out, pressuring various state officials to do it for him, and signal-boosting hoaxes purporting to show he really won. The result, on Jan. 6, was Trump inciting a riot at the Capitol that failed to come anywhere close to its goal of preventing congressional certification of the results but ended with multiple deaths.
The newly released emails shed more light on the behind-the-scenes machinations in December 2020 and beyond by White House personnel, in particular chief of staff Mark Meadows, to cajole and coerce DOJ officials into abusing the department’s powers on behalf of Trump. At that time, former Attorney General Bill Barr was no longer in Trump’s good graces after failing to turn up widespread evidence of voter fraud (as it didn’t exist) and was in the process of resigning.
As CNN noted, the records show that on Dec. 14, 2020, Trump’s assistant emailed documents “From POTUS” purportedly showing “cover-up of voting crimes” in Michigan to senior DOJ officials Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue, who forwarded them to U.S. attorneys for the state’s eastern and western districts. Within an hour, Trump had announced Barr would be leaving the DOJ and promoted both of those officials—Rosen to acting attorney general and Donoghue to his acting deputy. According to the New York Times, over the next few weeks, Trump pressured Rosen to have the DOJ join onto lawsuits seeking to have the election results overturned, floating the idea of replacing Rosen if he didn’t play ball.
Meadows was previously known to have been involved in a Trump-led pressure campaign to have the Georgia secretary of state somehow alter the outcome of the state’s election results, the Times wrote. But the newly released emails show he also repeatedly pushed Rosen and the DOJ to launch investigations of ridiculous claims, such as a tale about nefarious Italian operatives who had used military technology and satellites to remotely hack into voting machines and flip votes for Trump. This was despite a longstanding directive that virtually all White House officials do not discuss investigations or prosecutions with the DOJ.
Meadows cited this important finding to a translated letter, purportedly from a person in Italy and addressed to “Illustrious Mr. President,” that claimed “direct knowledge” of a “data switch” plot between the CIA, an Italian aerospace company, and a European Union military commander to rig the election for Biden using satellite transmitters of some kind.
“Our associates in the conservative part of the Italian secret services have been working since the beginning of November, 2020, to ensure that the truth is known and that the American people realize the result voted for: the re-election of President Trump,” the document, signed by “The Director Carlo Goria,” concluded.
The Italian theory was promoted by Trump supporters under the hashtags #Italygate and #ItalyDidIt, according to Reuters, and was boosted in early January by a press release from a Sarasota, Florida-based organization called Nations in Action (which fights “the collapse of civil society”) that detailed a supposed deposition of an arrested employee of the aeronautics company. In reality, Reuters found, the employee had been arrested in December 2020 over an unrelated cyber espionage plot targeting unmanned fighter jet and military/police aircraft programs, with the documents alleging a connection to the elections being transparent bullshit.
Meadows forwarded the separate “Carlo Goria” document to Rosen and other DOJ officials on Jan. 1, along with a YouTube video of retired CIA official turned One America News contributor Brad Johnson endorsing the Italian satellite theory. Donoghue replied to Rosen that the email was “pure insanity.”
Rosen wrote that he was pressured by the White House to have the FBI immediately meet with Johnson to begin investigating the Italian satellites, which he refused to do. He also said he told Rudy Giuliani, the president’s sweat-brained personal attorney, to stop bothering him on the matter.
“Yes. After this message, I was asked to have FBI meet with Brad Johnson, and I responded that Johnson could call or walk into FBI’s Washington Field Office with any evidence he purports to have,” Rosen wrote back to Donoghue. “On a follow up call, I learned that Johnson is working with Rudy Giuliani, who regarded my comments as ‘an insult.’”
“Asked if I would reconsider, I flatly refused and said I would not be giving any special treatment to Giuliani or any of his ‘witnesses,’ and re-affirmed yet again that I will not talk to Giuliani about any of this,” Rosen added.
Other emails show that on Dec. 29, Trump’s assistant at the White House emailed the DOJ asking them to pursue a 54-page legal brief seeking to have election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada thrown out by the Supreme Court over “unconstitutional changes” in voting procedures, according to NBC News. Attorney Kurt Olsen, a private attorney and Trump ally, also emailed a DOJ official the brief, requesting a meeting with Rosen.
In other emails from Meadows to DOJ officials on Jan. 1, the chief of staff urged DOJ officials to investigate a bullshit theory that “signature match anomalies” in a county in Georgia were large enough to flip results for Trump. Rosen also received courtesy of Meadows a list of complaints about the election process in New Mexico compiled by a local Republican Party official.
In response to Meadows’ email concerning Georgia, Rosen emailed Donoghue, “Can you believe this? I am not going to respond to the message below.” Donoghue quipped, “At least it’s better than the last one, but that doesn’t say much.”
Finally, other emails showed that Meadows messaged then-Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark with pleas to talk to a Georgia lawyer named Byung J. Pak who could allegedly back up the claims of voter fraud in the state. As NBC News reported, Clark was one of the candidates Trump considered as a replacement for Rosen in case the acting attorney general failed to cave to his demands.
According to CNN, House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney sent letters on Tuesday to Meadows, Rosen, Donoghue, Clark, and other DOJ colleagues asking them to present themselves to the committee for testimony. Meadows told the network in response to a request for comment on the appropriateness of the emails, “I’ll let you answer that. Obviously, I’m not going to comment on anything that may or may not have happened.” He refused to state whether he would testify.
“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,” Maloney wrote in a press release. “Those who aided or witnessed President Trump’s unlawful actions must answer the Committee’s questions about this attempted subversion of democracy. My Committee is committed to ensuring that the events leading to the violent January 6 insurrection are fully investigated.”