Newly released emails show the pressure brought by the White House on both former Attorney General Bill Barr and his brief successor, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, to intervene in the 2020 election. Both Barr and Rosen refused to intervene and pushed aside numerous efforts to arrange meetings with Trump counsel and to file federal complaints. What is astonishing is the degree to which these pressures continued in the brief period in which Rosen served as acting Attorney General in the final days of the Administration.
The emails given to the House Oversight Committee show how Barr refused to give credence to the electoral fraud claims of individuals like Rudy Giuliani before Trump forced him out in the waning days of the Trump Administration. The pressure was then brought on Rosen to do what Barr refused to do including filing a complaint drafted by the Trump legal team. The pressure was highly inappropriate and Rosen continued the position of Barr in refusing special efforts.
When Barr was pushed out by Trump after public attacks, it appeared entirely gratuitous and unnecessary. After all, there were only a few days left to the Administration. However, it now appears that Trump counsel used the substitution to resume the pressure for an intervention. Many of the emails reference the theory that Dominion Voting Systems were used to change votes and the more recently discussed theory that Italy was using satellites and military technology to change votes.
The pressure on Rosen came from a number of sources, including Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who asked about investigating the Italian satellite allegations. When Meadows’ email was forwarded by Rosen to Rich Donoghue, the acting deputy attorney general, Donoghue wrote back that it was “pure insanity.” Rosen responded that he was pressed to arrange a meeting between the FBI and a Giuliani associate, but refused. He told them to use the FBI tip line — a suggestion that Rosen recounted was viewed as “insulting” by Giuliani. It was a clear message that there would be no back channel to the DOJ.
What is troubling is that the pressure on Rosen started as soon as Barr announced his resignation for later that month. This included the sending of a draft complaint for the Justice Department to file to “declare that the Electoral College votes cast” in the six battleground states that Trump lost “cannot be counted.” The draft was reportedly sent to Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall and is highly unusual and, in my view, highly improper. One email leaves no question of where the pressure is coming from, stating “As I said on our call, the President of the United States has seen this complaint, and he directed me last night to brief AG Rosen in person today and discuss bringing this action,” he wrote in one email. “I have been instructed to report back to the President this afternoon after this meeting.”
Not only do the emails further vindicate Barr in this protection of the integrity of the Department but the disclosures follow Attorney General Merrick Garland adopting some of the Barr positions previously denounced as raw political abuses by legal experts on networks like CNN and MSNBC.