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Senate Democrats launch probe into alleged Trump plot to undo election results

Democrats want information by Feb. 8, the same day the impeachment trial is set to begin

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call)

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who already planned to use their new majority to launch oversight into Donald Trump’s administration have one of their first big targets, with new reports that the former president tried to enlist the Justice Department in his bid to undo his re-election loss.

The incoming chairman, Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, and the other committee Democrats sent a letter Saturday to the Justice Department to give the committee documents and communications related to “astonishing details of an alleged plot” between then-President Trump and Jeffrey Clark, a then-acting assistant attorney general in the Civil Division.

The letter also requests the information by no later than Feb. 8, a hint that Democrats will want to raise Trump’s behavior as detailed by The New York Times at a Senate impeachment trial set to begin that day. The House impeached Trump a second time after a Trump-inspired mob stormed the halls of Congress in an attempt to stop the Jan. 6 counting of Electoral College votes.

The Times reported that Trump plotted how to oust then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to, among other ambitions, get the Justice Department to file legal briefs to support his allies’ lawsuits to overturn results in Georgia and elsewhere.

“The information revealed by this story raises deeply troubling questions regarding the Justice Department’s role in Trump’s scheme to overturn the election,” the Democrats wrote.

The letter asks for documents and communications related to a Dec. 15 meeting between Trump and Rosen, as well as follow-up calls; a Jan. 3 meeting with Trump, Rosen and Clark; any complaints Trump made about a U.S. attorney in Georgia who later resigned; and a draft letter Clark reportedly prepared to send to Georgia state lawmakers.

Trump at the Dec. 15 meeting wanted Rosen to appoint special counsels to investigate not only unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud, but also Dominion, the voting machines firm, the Times reported.Trump also complained to Justice Department leaders that the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, Byung J. Pak, was not trying to find evidence for false election claims, the Times reported.

And Trump had Rosen and Clark come to the White House on Jan. 3 to make competing cases to him that two officials compared with an episode of Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” the Times reported.

On Monday, the Justice Department’s watchdog announced it would investigate “whether any former or current DOJ official engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election.”

The DOJ Office of Inspector General said it wanted the public to know the issue was being investigated, and said it will not comment further until the probe is complete.

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