In Donald Trump’s final weeks as President of the United States, Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, urged the Justice Department to investigate conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 presidential election, according to reports. Newly discovered and delivered emails to Congress, which have been analyzed in part by The New York Times.
In five emails sent during the last week of December and early January, Meadows asked Jeffrey Rosen, then Acting Attorney General, to review the already refuted allegations of electoral fraud in New Mexico and a series of baseless plots. that they claimed Trump was the winner. . This included a fanciful theory that Italians had used military technology and satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines in the United States and swap votes for Trump for votes for Joe Biden.
None of the emails show Rosen agreeing to open investigations suggested by Meadows, and former officials and people close to him have said no. An email to another Justice Department official said Rosen refused to set up a meeting between the FBI and a man who posted videos online promoting the Italian conspiracy theory, known as name of Italygate.
But communications between Meadows and Rosen, which have never been published before, show the increasingly urgent efforts by Trump and his allies during his last days in office to find a way to undermine, if not cancel. , the election results while he is still in power. control.
Just before Christmas, as Trump pressured the Georgian Secretary of State’s lead investigator to find ‘dishonesty’, Meadows made a surprise visit to Cobb County in Georgia to observe an audit process electoral. Local authorities called the scene a “stench of despair” as investigations had found no evidence of fraud.
Meadows also joined Trump’s Jan. 2 phone call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, in which Trump repeatedly called on the state’s top election official to change the outcome of the presidential election.
But the new messages show that Meadows’ private efforts bordered on the absurd and sought official validation of the disinformation that was circulating rampantly among Trump supporters.
Italygate was one of the many unfounded conspiracy theories that surrounded the 2020 election and set the internet on fire before the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill by a pro-Trump mob. These theories fueled the belief among many rioters, at Trump’s instigation, that the election was stolen and led several Republican-led states to adopt or propose new barriers to voting.
The emails were discovered this year as part of a Senate Justice Committee investigation into whether Justice Department officials were involved in efforts to reverse Trump’s electoral defeat.
“This new evidence underscores the depth of the White House’s efforts to co-opt the department and influence the certification of the election result,” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the committee, said in a statement. “I will demand all evidence of Trump’s efforts to manipulate the Justice Department into its subversive electoral scheme.”
A spokesperson for Meadows declined to comment, as did the Department of Justice. Rosen did not respond to a request for comment.
The demands made by Meadows reflect Trump’s belief that he could use the Justice Department to advance his personal agenda.
On December 15, the day after Rosen announced that Rosen would be Secretary of Justice, Trump summoned him to the Oval Office to pressure the Justice Department to support actions to reverse his electoral defeat. . Trump also asked Rosen to appoint a special lawyer to investigate Dominion Voting Systems, a voting technology company.
In the weeks leading up to the January 6 attack, Trump continued to pressure Rosen to do more to help undermine the election and even considered replacing him as attorney general with a ministry official. who seemed more willing to use his post to violate the Constitution and change the outcome of the elections.
During those weeks, Rosen privately told Trump that he preferred not to take such steps, reiterating a public statement made by his predecessor, William Barr, that the Justice Department “has not seen any fraud on a scale that could have produced a different result in the election “.
Meadows’ move to Rosen was bold in part because it violated long-standing guidelines that essentially bar nearly all White House employees, including the chief of staff, from contacting the Justice Department about ‘investigations or other prosecutions.
Nonetheless, Meadows sent Rosen several emails in late December and New Years Day.
On January 1, Meadows wrote that he wanted the Justice Department to open an investigation into a discredited theory, promoted by the Trump campaign, that anomalies with signatures in Fulton County, Ga. important to modify the results. of Trump.
Meadows previously sent Rosen an email about possible fraud in Georgia written by Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who worked on the Trump campaign. Two days after this email was sent to Rosen, Mitchell participated in the January 2 phone call, in which she and Trump pressured Raffensperger to reconsider his findings that there was no had not been widespread fraud and that Biden had won. During the phone call, Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” the necessary voices for him to declare victory in Georgia.
Meadows also sent Rosen a list of allegations of possible electoral errors in New Mexico, a state said to be riddled with fraud, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in November. A spokesperson for the New Mexico secretary of state said at the time his election was secure. To confirm the accuracy of the vote, state auditors hand-counted random voting sessions.
And in his request that the Justice Department investigate the conspiracy theory in Italy, Meadows sent Rosen a YouTube link to a video of Brad Johnson, a former CIA official who had made the theory public in videos and statements he posted online. . After receiving the video, Rosen said in an email to another Justice Department member that he was asked to set up a meeting between Johnson and the FBI, which he refused and that he was subsequently asked to reconsider his decision.
The Senate Justice Committee is one of three bodies examining aspects of the White House’s efforts to overturn the election in the dying days of the Trump administration. The House Oversight Committee and the Inspector General of the Ministry of Justice also do this.
Rosen is in talks with the oversight committee to speak with investigators about any pressure the Justice Department has exerted to investigate voter fraud, as well as the department’s response to the Jan.6 attack, according to reports. people close to the investigation.