A minority report released by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee exonerates former President Donald Trump of claims of weaponizing the Department of Justice (DOJ) in an effort to subvert the 2020 election.
Trump, Republicans concluded led by ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, never directed agency officials to act outside the guidelines of what would be appropriate for department staff in the course of securing election integrity.
“The available evidence shows that President Trump was concerned about ‘legitimate complaints’ and ‘reports of crimes,’ and that the electoral system writ large had failed the American people,” lawmakers wrote based on interviews with the same witnesses who testified before Democrats. “President Donald Trump’s focus was not on directing the DOJ or the FBI to take certain action; rather his focus was on making sure that they were aware of election allegations and that they were doing their job to properly investigate them.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., launched the committee investigation in January with a focus on the events between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 3 this year, interviewing a trio of former top DOJ officials from Trump’s last days in office. Those who testified include former Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, and former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia BJay Pak.
The Republicans’ conclusions directly contradict Democrats’ claims that Trump sought to overturn the November contest through a deep-state operation within the Justice Department, the same agency weaponized by then-Vice President Joe Biden to do exactly that in 2016.
In August, legacy outlets ran wild with the story first reported by ABC News that Jeffrey Clark, then an assistant attorney general within the DOJ, wrote a memo urging Georgia lawmakers to hold hearings on voter fraud before the results could be certified by Congress. In January, Senate investigators found that Clark had recommended the Justice Department also demand that states hold special conventions where the legislators pick electors, recommendations Trump repeatedly shot down twice, according to Donoghue’s testimony.
Clark was never interviewed by the committee before Durbin decided to conclude the Senate investigation.
While Democrats pivoted over the prior 10 months from framing Trump as a Kremlin agent to a rogue agent hellbent on retaining power through a DOJ takeover, Senate Republicans found no evidence to support the hysterical claims. Trump, Republican investigators found, consulted with close advisers and adhered to their advice to ensure DOJ bureaucrats in the same agency that worked against him take seriously allegations of voter fraud in a pandemic election that featured record-breaking turnout in the form of mail-in ballots. Voting by mail is the most common form of voter fraud and has been banned in France since 1975 while severely restricted across the developed world.
While Trump, Donoghue testified, had “no impact” on the Justice Department’s actions investigating the November election, the frustrated president did not fire a single staffer at the DOJ or FBI related to the lack of action despite his own belief that Pak was a “NeverTrumper.” In fact, Donoghue said, the Election Crimes Branch was “dragging their feet and maybe more to keep these investigations from going forward.”
Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, on the other hand, reportedly abstained from applying severe pressure on DOJ officials to investigate fraud claims as hostile outlets such as The New York Times depicted.