Ex-President Donald Trump was so intent on overturning his election loss, he pressured the Department of Justice to announce that the 2020 election had been a sham, even as DOJ officials told Trump his breathless assertions of fraud were false, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. In a Dec. 27 phone call between Trump, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s second-in-command, Donoghue told the president that DOJ did not have any authority or legal grounds to nullify or change the election results. Trump reportedly brushed it off, demanding, “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me,” according to contemporaneous notes taken by Donoghue.
“Much of the info you’re getting is false,” Donoghue reportedly said to Trump, telling him that DOJ investigators had at that point conducted dozens of fruitless investigations and hundreds of interviews looking into Trump’s claims. “We look at allegations but they don’t pan out.” According to the notes cited by the Times, Trump replied that those “saying that the election isn’t corrupt are corrupt.” After telling Rosen and Donoghue that “nobody trusts the FBI,” Trump explained why he knew better: “You guys may not be following the internet the way I do.”