- Trump’s White House lawyer called his plan to cancel the 2020 election as a “murder-suicide pact.”
- That’s according to a new report from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Trump’s electoral subversion efforts.
- The report details how senior Justice Department and White House officials were prepared to resign en masse to arrest Trump.
Days before stepping down, President Donald Trump was making one last ditch effort to force the Justice Department to make its offer and overturn the 2020 election results. He almost managed to do so, but was distracted when his White House lawyer called it a “murder-suicide pact”, and he and his deputy threatened to resign.
That’s according to a 394-page Senate Judiciary Committee report detailing Trump’s countless efforts to take over the White House after losing the election to Joe Biden.
Parts of Trump’s plan have already been reported by The New York Times, but the Senate is the first report from Congress to document it in detail. He’s also the first to reveal the response from then White House lawyer Pat Cipollone and how far he and his deputy Patrick Philbin were willing to go to stop Trump.
The president’s plan to overturn the election results hinged on the ousting of Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his replacement with a loyalist, Jeffrey Clark. At the time, Clark headed the department’s civilian division and was a key supporter of Trump’s crusade to force battlefield states to withdraw their certification of Biden’s victory.
In addition to appointing Clark as acting attorney general, Trump wanted to send a letter written by Clark to “relevant” battlefield states informing them that the DOJ had discovered election irregularities in those states and asking them to consider appointing a new one. voters list.
Trump’s plan has floored senior White House and DOJ officials, who, in a Jan. 3 Oval Office meeting, threatened to resign en masse if he goes through with it. Cipollone and Philbin attended the meeting, as did Clark, Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue and Steven Engel, the deputy attorney general of the Office of Legal Counsel. Rosen also told the committee that Eric Herschmann, a senior Trump adviser, was present at the meeting.
According to the report, Donoghue and Engel warned Trump that if he implemented his plan, all Deputy Attorneys General in the Department of Justice would resign. This would only be the beginning, they said.
Donoghue told Trump that U.S. lawyers and other DOJ officials may also resign, according to the report. Donoghue also told the committee that Cipollone and Philbin strongly rejected Trump’s proposal, with Cipollone calling Clark’s letter a “murder-suicide pact”, while he and Philbin “had indicated they would also resign,” according to the report. .
It was a remarkable turn of events for Cipollone and Philbin who, a year earlier, had defended Trump in his first high-stakes impeachment trial for his efforts to convince the Ukrainian government to launch politically motivated investigations into the Bidens.
Donoghue went on to tell the committee that Trump did not abandon the plan until very late in the conversation. The report states that after a few hours of “radio silence”, Rosen’s chief of staff, Patrick Hovakimian, sent an email to DOJ leadership saying he had only “limited visibility” in the area. situation, “but it seems Rosen and the cause of justice won.” Hovakimian’s email was also in a trove of documents released by the House Oversight Committee earlier this year.
John Demers, then Deputy Attorney General for National Security, responded “Unbelievable,” according to the report and emails released by the oversight committee.
Rosen, Engel, Cipollone and Philbin did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment, nor did Clark’s representatives immediately respond to a request for comment. Donoghue could not immediately be reached for comment.