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    ‘Just say the election was corrupt,’ Trump urged DoJ after loss to Biden

    Donald Trump‘Just say the election was corrupt,’ Trump urged DoJ after loss to BidenNotes obtained by House oversight committee show Trump pressured officials to falsely claim the election was not legitimate Hugo Lowell in WashingtonFri 30 Jul 2021 14.49 EDTFirst published on Fri 30 Jul 2021 13.23 EDTDonald Trump pressured top justice department officials to falsely claim that the 2020 election was corrupt so he and his allies in Congress could subvert the results and return him to office, according to newly released memos.“Just say that the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me,” the former president told the former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, memos obtained by the House oversight committee showed. The notes were taken by Donoghue, who documented a 27 December call with Trump and Rosen.Jared Kushner set to move away from politics and launch investment firmRead moreTrump’s demand to the justice department represented an extraordinary instance of a president seeking to influence an agency that is supposed to operate independently of the White House, to advance his own personal interests and political agenda.It is also the latest example of the far-reaching campaign mounted by Trump over the final weeks of his presidency to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to Joe Biden in a contest devoid of any widespread voter fraud.In the December call, Donoghue told Trump that the justice department had no power to change the outcome of the election, to which the former president replied that he had no such expectation and that he and his allies in Congress would advance the voter fraud claims.Trump did not specifically name the members of Congress on board with his plan, but at various points through the call referred to the House Republicans Jim Jordan and Scott Perry, as well as the Senate Republican Ron Johnson, who are some of his most vociferous defenders on Capitol Hill.The memos taken by Donoghue and turned over to the House oversight committee, which has been investigating Trump and the 6 January attack on the Capitol, directly connect key Republicans to his disinformation campaign to unlawfully subvert the 2020 election.Jordan was among a slew of House and Senate Republicans who voted against certifying Biden’s election victory at the joint session of Congress on 6 January, before a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a violent insurrection that left five dead and nearly 140 injured.But the top Republican on the powerful House judiciary committee has since downplayed his role in the former president’s pressure campaign. “Congressman Jordan did not, has not, and would not pressure anyone at the justice department about the 2020 election,” a spokesperson said.The DoJ has typically fought to keep private, executive-branch discussions between presidents and top advisers secret, to avoid setting a precedent that could prevent officials from having candid conversations for fear that they might later becoming public.But the DoJ’s release of the Donoghue memos to Congress reflects a determination that, as with Richard Nixon and Watergate, congressional investigators ought to have the ability to scrutinize potential wrongdoing by a sitting president.The move by the DoJ also follows its decision this week not to assert executive privilege for Rosen to testify to Congress – clearing the path for other top Trump administration officials to appear before congressional committees investigating the former president.Officials at the DoJ and the White House Office of Legal Counsel concluded that executive privilege exists to protect the country, rather than a single individual – and said in a letter it would not be appropriate to invoke the protection for Trump’s efforts to push his personal agenda.Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the House oversight committee, on Friday commended the release of the memos: “These handwritten notes show that President Trump directly instructed our nation’s top law enforcement agency to take steps to overturn a free and fair election.”In the December call, the notes show both officials pushed back against Trump, who, at one point, alleged that there had been widespread fraud in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona, which he described as “corrupted elections” – an assertion that drew an immediate condemnation from Donoghue.“Much of the info you’re getting is false,” Donoghue told Trump, adding that the DoJ had completed dozens of initial investigations into his claims but were unable to substantiate any, according to the memos. “We look at allegations but they don’t pan out.”But Trump, undeterred and seemingly anxious about his looming departure from office, pressed on: “Ok fine – but what about the others?” he said, the memos show, referring to the slew of other conspiracies about voter fraud in Georgia. “Not much time left,” Trump added.The former president, in an ominous moment of foreshadowing, then raised the prospect of purging the DoJ’s top officials and installing in their place loyalists such as Jeffrey Clark, who was then the head of the DoJ’s civil division.“People tell me Jeff Clark is great, I should put him in,” Trump said, according to the memos. “People want me to replace DoJ leadership.” The New York Times reported that Clark a week later schemed with Trump to oust Rosen as acting attorney general and force Georgia to overturn its election results.TopicsDonald TrumpUS elections 2020Trump administrationHouse of RepresentativesUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    The Republican backlash in Joe Biden’s America

    It might seem like a post-Trump world, but in red states across the US his most hardline supporters are setting the political agenda. How much power do they have to shape the country’s future, even with a Democrat in the White House?

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    To a casual observer, Joe Biden’s victory in the last US presidential election, coupled with Democratic success in the Senate and the House, might have seemed to turn the page on the Donald Trump era and consign his hardline policy agenda to the past. But a huge amount of power in the US resides in its 50 state legislatures, and Republicans won a clear majority in 30 of them. In large parts of the US they are now using that power to enact a policy agenda that many observers view as being far more extreme than many voters would have supported. So why are they going ahead anyway? Rachel Humphreys speaks to David Smith, the Guardian’s Washington bureau chief, about the politics that lie behind that move to the right, and how in the era of coronavirus it will further deepen the sense that there are two vastly different Americas. Smith reflects on what threat to Biden’s agenda the state Republicans will present and whether their strategy of appeasing their base could pave the way for a new Trump run at the presidency in 2024. More

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    Trump officials can testify to Congress about his role in Capitol attack, DoJ says

    US Capitol attackTrump officials can testify to Congress about his role in Capitol attack, DoJ saysMove declines to assert executive privilege for then acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, clearing path for others to testify Hugo Lowell in WashingtonTue 27 Jul 2021 15.50 EDTLast modified on Tue 27 Jul 2021 17.26 EDTFormer Trump administration officials can testify to Congress about Donald Trump’s role in the deadly January attack on the Capitol and his efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election, the justice department (DoJ) has said in a letter obtained by the Guardian.The move by the justice department declined to assert executive privilege for Trump’s acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, clearing the path for other top former officials to also testify to congressional committees investigating the Capitol attack without fear of repercussions.The justice department authorised witnesses to appear specifically before the two committees. But a DoJ official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said they expected that approval to extend to the 6 January select committee that began proceedings on Tuesday.Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House select committee, told the Guardian in a recent interview that he would investigate both Trump and anyone who communicated with the former president on 6 January, raising the prospect of depositions with an array of Trump officials.Rosen and Trump administration witnesses can give “unrestricted testimony” to the Senate judiciary and House oversight committees, which are scrutinising the attempt by the Trump White House to stop Congress certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, the letter said.The justice department’s decision marks a sharp departure from the Trump era, when the department repeatedly intervened on behalf of top White House officials to assert executive privilege and shield them from congressional investigations into the former president.It also represents a significant move by the White House Office of Legal Counsel under Biden, which in authorising the decision, pointedly noted that executive privilege protections exist to benefit the country, rather than a single individual.Trump has argued that conversations and deliberations involving the president are always protected by executive privilege. He can sue to block any testimony, which would force the courts to decide the extent of such protections.But the justice department said in the letter that Rosen and Trump administration officials can testify to Congress about Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election because of the extraordinary nature of the circumstances.In his last weeks in office, Trump pressured justice department officials to use the vast powers of the federal government to undo his defeat, asking them to investigate baseless conspiracies of voter fraud and tampering that they had already determined to be false.“The extraordinary events in this matter constitute exceptional circumstances warranting an accommodation to Congress,” Bradley Weinsheimer, a senior career official in the office of the deputy attorney general, said in the letter.The justice department told Rosen and Trump administration officials that they could appear before Congress as long as their testimony was confined to the scope set forth by the committees and did not reveal grand jury or classified information, or pending criminal cases.Rosen’s approval letter, which was sent on Monday night according to a source familiar with the matter, comes after the Senate judiciary committee asked to interview several Trump administration officials as part of their oversight efforts started in January.Negotiations for their testimony were stalled as the justice department weighed how much information former officials could reveal, concerned that many of the conversations were covered by executive privilege, which keeps executive branch deliberations confidential.The justice department ultimately relented after consulting with the White House Office of Legal Counsel, which said it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege over the specific topics in question, according to the letter.“It is the executive branch’s view that this presents an exceptional situation in which the congressional need for information outweighs the Executive Branch’s interest in maintaining confidentiality,” wrote Weinsheimer, citing Richard Nixon and Watergate.The Senate judiciary committee chairman, Dick Durbin, said on Twitter that he was working to now schedule interviews with the officials. The panel is also still receiving materials and documents from the justice department, the source said.The 6 January special committee – everything you need to knowRead moreThe House oversight committee chairwoman, Carolyn Maloney, said in a statement that she was pleased with the decision: “I am committed to getting to the bottom of the previous administration’s attempts to subvert the justice department and reverse a free and fair election.”Trump exerted significant pressure on the justice department to help him remain president. In one instance, Trump schemed with Jeffrey Clark, the former head of the DoJ’s civil division, to force Georgia to overturn their election results, the New York Times reported.The Senate judiciary and House oversight committees opened wide-ranging investigations into Trump and the justice department shortly after, with Durbin also demanding materials from the National Archives for records and communications concerning those efforts.TopicsUS Capitol attackTrump administrationHouse of RepresentativesDonald TrumpUS politicsnewsReuse this content More