Ross: Jan. 6 committee hearings reveal just how far Trump leaned on the Justice Department

Jun 24, 2022, 7:00 AM

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) shakes hands with Steven Engel, former Assistant Attorney General for ...

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) shakes hands with Steven Engel, former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, as he an Jeffrey Rosen, former Acting Attorney General, and Richard Donoghue, former Acting Deputy Attorney General, leave after testifying before the House Select Committee (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

It all came down to a letter on official Justice Department (DOJ) stationery.

During yesterday’s hearing of the January 6th committee, we learned that Donald Trump wanted to send a letter to state officials saying that the Justice Department has identified significant concerns about the outcome of the election in several states, including Georgia.

The letter was ready to go. All the president needed was for the attorney general to sign it. But Attorney General Jeff Rosen said NO.

Because it wasn’t true. There were no major problems with the election.

Trump, however, was determined to find someone who would sign that letter. So, he called a meeting for January 3rd. Attorney General Rosen was there, along with other department officials, including the man who was ready to sign the letter, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark.

And at one point in the meeting, the president turned to this man:

“Early on the president said, ‘What do I have to lose?’ It was actually a good opening because I said, ‘Mr. President, you have a great deal to lose,'” Richard Donoghue, deputy attorney general, said.

“He said, ‘So suppose I do this. Suppose I replace him, Jeff Rosen, with Jeff Clark, what would you do?’ And I said, ‘Mr. President, I would resign immediately. I’m not working one minute for this guy.'”

“The President immediately turned to Mr. Engel, and he said, ‘Steve, you wouldn’t resign, would you?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely I would, Mr. President, you leave me no choice.’ And I said, ‘you could have hundreds and hundreds of resignations of the leadership of your entire Justice Department because of your actions. What’s that going to say about you?'”

And that’s the comeback that saved American democracy. When Trump realized the collapse of the U.S. Justice Department would suddenly be a bigger story than his made-up fraud story, he backed down. The letter was never sent. And everyone went home. Although Donoghue did get a phone call later that night:

“My cell phone rang. It was the president, and he had information about a truck supposedly full of shredded ballots in Georgia that were in the custody of an ice agent, whose name he had,” Donoghue continued.

Donoghue, being sane, ignored it.

And so, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you – thank you to all the Trump loyalists who resisted invoking the 25th Amendment – because had Trump been removed early, no one would ever have believed what he was actually capable of.

And believe it or not, I want to say thank you to Mr. Trump himself – because you have shown us what happens when a businessman runs the government the way he runs his business, AND because you actually had the foresight to appoint the courageous people who are even now exposing everything you tried to do.

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Ross: Jan. 6 committee hearings reveal just how far Trump leaned on the Justice Department