Damn Right Jan. 6 Was a Coup—This Was Trump's Call That Led There
Before the MAGA goon squad stormed the Capitol building at the beginning of January, Trump had tried to get the DoJ to roll over for him at the end of December.
It was just after Christmas with eviction from the White House imminent and the clown crew led by Rudy getting nowhere in its campaign to overturn the election when Donald Trump personally phoned the apolitical Justice Department to pressure the Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen for help.
According to documents that the Justice Department has now turned over to Congress, and that were made public for the first time on Friday, Trump called to discuss his phony voter fraud claims, as if the very political William Barr hadn’t conceded, on his way out the door, that despite looking, he’d found none.
When reminded of that by Rosen, and of the fact Justice couldn’t change an election anyway, Trump said not to worry. All he needed was just one word from him: “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me.”
So many had already left so much to Trump and the country has paid so dearly for it. We don’t have the notes yet but imagine earlier calls to DOJ, then staffed by Trump appointees keeping his tax returns secret, despite a legitimate request from the House Ways and Means committee and a law that says the returns “shall” be provided.
The wheels of Justice grind, but slowly and in the next 72 hours, Congress should have what Trump managed to cover up since he came down the golden escalator in 2016.
Thankfully, Rosen, the last of Trump’s AGs and one with a spine missing in his predecessors, immediately and repeatedly denied the president’s request. Trump pressed on. With all his recounts, audits and court cases, he said, Rosen was missing the forest of legality for the truth on Twitter:
“You guys may not be following the internet the way I do,” he warned, adding that officials who say “the election isn’t corrupt are corrupt.” Oh, puppet.
Seen through the Trump looking glass, the call was just another obvious step in his effort not to go down in history as a loser, the final act being the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol he inspired. Way before a vote was cast, Trump planted its seeds by pre-accusing the other side of rigging the election, saying that would be the only way he wouldn’t win. Then he declared victory based on incomplete election night returns. Anything that changed that had to be bamboo ballots floating in a river somewhere. He blamed partisan Democratic officials for not finding fraud, despite Republican governors and election officials affirming state returns again and again.He launched 60 court challenges, lost them all, and ignored the rulings.
Add the failed call to Justice and what’s a poor president to do to keep sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom but unleash a mob on the Capitol?
The newly released notes of the call, taken by Rosen’s deputy, are a roadmap to Trump’s twisted thinking. The president cited “allies” who would help him once he got Justice to sign on to his racket, including Rep. Jim Jordan who is so slavishly beholden to Trump that he voted to keep Congress from certifying the election even after the Jan 6 violence.
Jordan wasn’t alone. A majority of House Republicans and their leadership stood by the Big Lie. The initial shock and revulsion of Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell quickly softened into acceptance. McCarthy blew up the Jan. 6 committee, pulling all his appointees when Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn’t seat Jordan, conceding that his party’s official position is to defend Trump’s conduct at all costs and not to investigate anything at all.
In case the acting AG didn’t understand the stakes back in December, Trump used his “people tell me” tack. “Thousands of people” called, complaining to him about the election, the inaction of DOJ, and how none of them “trust the FBI.” Other “people” say how great Jeff Clark is, as in the acting chief of the civil division who supported all things Trump. People wanted Trump to “replace DOJ leadership” with him. A week after the call, Rosen and his deputy would have to defend their jobs against Clark in a meeting in the Oval Office.
Of course, no 2020 Trump call would have been complete without a demand or plea to “figure out what to do” with Hunter Biden, on the grounds that “people will criticize the D.O.J. if he’s not investigated for real.”
The Founding Fathers knew that the more perfect union they hoped for would be led by imperfect men. They may not have pictured someone as imperfect as Trump. But they did count on people like Colonel Alexander Vindman and James Mattis and now Jeff Rosen to stop such men while there’s still, just barely, time.