Trump’s chief of staff tried to get Justice Department to take up false election fraud claims, emails show

Mark Meadows sent attorney general YouTube links to debunked ‘Italygate’ conspiracy theory in Trump’s final days in office, reports found

Trump claims he is trying to ‘save’ democracy

Within Donald Trump’s final days in office, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sought to pressure the US Department of Justice to investigate election fraud conspiracy theories amplified by QAnon proponents.

In documents obtained by members of Congress and reviewed by The New York Times and CNN, Mr Meadows reportedly sent five emails in late December and early January to then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to investigate election fraud claims in Georgia and New Mexicos.

He also pressed Mr Rosen to investigate several debunked allegations, including a “theory” that Italian officials in coordination with Barack Obama and the CIA used military technology to manipulate US voting machines, a claim that circulated among QAnon-linked conspiracy theorists as a pro-Trump mob fuelled by the “stolen election” narrative breached the US Capitol.

In his request for the Justice Department to investigate the conspiracy theory, Mr Meadows emailed Mr Rosen a link to a YouTube video.

Mr Rosen did not agree to pursue investigations, according to emails reviewed by the outlets.

The documents – part of a Senate Judiciary Committee probe into the Justice Department’s efforts during Mr Trump’s campaign to reject millions of ballots cast in the 2020 election – appear to show the last-minute desperation among administration officials to validate the former president’s months-long effort to undermine the results.

“What my office found in our investigation is a five-alarm fire for democracy, underscoring the depths of the White House’s efforts to influence the electoral vote certification,” US Sen Dick Durbin said. “I will demand all evidence of Trump’s efforts to weaponize DOJ in his election subversion scheme.”

During an appearance before a House Oversight Committee hearing on 12 May to investigate the events leading up to and during the failed insurrection on 6 January, Mr Rosen refused to answer whether he discussed with the former president efforts to overturn or reject election results in the lead-up to the riots.

He confirmed that he met with Mr Trump on 3 January but said only that their conversation did “not relate to planning and preparations for the events of 6 January.”

“Respectfully I don’t think it’s my role here today to discuss communications with the president in the Oval Office or the White House,” he said, suggesting parallel investigations involving his former agency.

Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark and Mr Trump reportedly discussed removing Mr Rosen to use the agency to reject election results in Georgia, according to The New York Times.

Mr Rosen then reportedly sought a meeting with Mr Trump on 3 January, one day after the former president called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in an effort to pressure the state to pursue his false claims that Mr Trump received thousands of votes to win the state.

Mr Meadows was on that call. He also visited an in-progress vote audit in Cobb County, Georgia days before the call.

Asked whether he believes the election was “stolen” from Mr Trump, Mr Rosen said: “There was no evidence presented of widespread fraud of a sufficient scale to overturn the election.”

His predecessor, William Barr, also said that the Justice Department had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in