Former President Trump asked then-acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to seize voting machines from state governments in late December 2020, according to testimony from former DOJ official Richard Donoghue during Thursday’s hearing — a request Rosen testified the Justice Department had no legal authority to do.
“We had seen nothing improper with regard to the voting machines, and I told him that the real experts at that had been at DHS and had briefed us that they had looked at it and that there was nothing wrong with the voting machines. And so that was not something that was appropriate to do,” Rosen testified.
“I don’t think there was legal authority either,” Rosen added, responding to question from Rep. Adam Kinzinger that there was no “factual basis” to seize the machines.
Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general, said that Trump was “very agitated” when he was told the Justice Department would not take action of the voting machines.
At that point, according to Donoghue, Trump called Ken Cuccinelli at the Department of Homeland Security and told him that Rosen was saying it was DHS’s job to seize the machines, even though he was not saying that.
“Get Ken Cuccinelli on the phone,” Trump yelled to his secretary after DOJ officials told him that DHS had expertise in voting machines and determined there was nothing to warrant seizing them, according to former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, who testified Thursday.
Rosen confirmed Thursday he never told Trump that DHS could seize voting machines. CNN has previously reported that Trump pushed DOJ and DHS to seize voting machines.
CNN has also previously reported that Trump allies drafted executive orders that would have had the military and DHS seize voting machines had they been signed by Trump – but they ultimately were not.
At the request of former chief of staff Mark Meadows, then-Defense Secretary Christopher Miller reached out to the defense attaché in Italy to investigate a baseless claim that an Italian satellite had switched votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, according to testimony at Thursday’s House Jan. 6 committee hearing.
The conspiracy theory, which CNN has previously reported was among those pushed Meadows pushed top national security officials to investigate, was characterized as “pure insanity” by former DOJ official Richard Donoghue, who was also asked to look into the claim.
After the DOJ refused to meet with the man who was pushing the baseless claim online, Meadows went to Department of Defense and asked Miller to follow-up on it.
“The ask for him was, can you call out to defense attaché Rome and find out what the heck’s going on? Because I’m getting all these weird crazy reports and probably the guy on the ground knows more than anything,” Miller told the committee during his closed-door interview, according to video of his deposition played Thursday.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Thursday that the committee confirmed a call was actually placed by Miller to the attaché in Italy to investigate the claim about Italian satellites.
Former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue recounted having multiple confrontations with DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, telling him that what he was proposing, in pushing election fraud claims, was “nothing less than the United States Justice Department meddling in the outcome of a presidential election.”
Donoghue later confronted Clark again, and the top tier of DOJ officials continued to try to put an end to Clark’s insistence that the department be used to investigate nonexistent voter fraud. Another confrontation was on January 2, 2021, Donoghue said.
“He was defensive,” Donoghue said. “Similar to his earlier reaction when I said this was nothing less than the Justice Department meddling in an election, his reaction was, ‘I think a lot of people meddled in this election.’ So he kind of clung to that.”
“Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
This is how former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue said former President Donald Trump responded when then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen told him that the Justice Department “can’t and won’t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election.”
The account of the Dec. 27 call between the former president and the upper rungs of the Justice Department came on Thursday during the Jan. 6 committee’s fifth public hearing, which is focusing on Trump’s campaign to corrupt the DOJ into helping him overturn the results of the 2020 election.
This is all just from this afternoon’s hearings.
That none of these people, starting with Trump himself, have yet to face any legal consequences whatsoever for any of this is just a bit sobering, 18 months after they tried to overthrow the government more or less right out in the open.