The House Oversight Committee released notes from the Dec. 27 call on Friday. They highlight the extent to which Trump tried to reverse the results and to get the support of government officials and law enforcement officials. Emails released last month show that Trump and his allies in the last weeks of his presidency pressured the Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated claims of widespread 2020 election fraud, and the department's inspector general is looking into whether department officials tried to subvert the results.
According to Richard Donoghue's notes, Trump stated that Trump had said "Just say that the election was corrupt" to Jeffrey Rosen, then-Acting Attorney General. He was also present on the call.
The pressure is all the more notable because just weeks earlier, Trump's own attorney general William Barr, had revealed that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have overturned the results.
The Dec. 27 call was made just days after Barr resigned. Rosen took over the department in turbulent last weeks of the administration. This included the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol, in which pro-Trump loyalists stormed into the building while Congress was certifying election results.
"These handwritten notes prove that President Trump direct instructed our nation’s top law enforcement agency in order to overturn a fair and free election in his final days," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (a New York Democrat) said in a statement.
She stated that the committee had already begun scheduling interviews for witnesses. Rosen and Donoghue were among six witnesses who were authorized by the Justice Department to appear before the panel earlier this week. They will provide "unrestricted evidence" citing the public's interest in the "extraordinary circumstances" of the last weeks.
According to notes, Trump claimed that during the call people were angry and blamed the Justice Department for their inaction. He also said that "We have an obligations to tell people that this election was illegal, corrupt" and that the department had failed respond to legitimate complaints about crime. Judge after judge has repeatedly dismissed unsubstantiated fraud claims, including Trump appointees and election officials throughout the country.
Trump was told by Justice Department officials that they were investigating, but that there was no evidence to support the claims. They also said that a lot of the information he was receiving was false, according to Donoghue’s notes.
The notes show that Rosen said to Trump at one point that the Justice Department couldn't + wouldn't snap its fingers + alter the outcome of the election. It didn't work that way.
Trump replied by saying, "Don't expect me to do that. Just say that the election had been corrupt + leave all the rest to us and the R. Congressmen." According to the notes.
Trump was joking during the call about replacing Justice Department leadership by Jeffrey Clark, then-assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and acting head of Civil Division.
The New York Times reported Trump was considering a plan to replace Rosen by Clark. The inspector general said that it would investigate whether or not any current or former department officials attempted to reverse the election results.