On Tuesday, American Oversight sued the Department of Justice for records related to former President Donald Trump’s reported attempts to pressure the department to support his and his allies’ efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Among other records, the lawsuit seeks the release of documents linked to the plan to fire acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen in January and replace him with a Trump loyalist.
Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that on Dec. 15, the president summoned Rosen — then the deputy attorney general — to the Oval Office. During the meeting, Trump reportedly urged Rosen to appoint special counsels to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud, and asked that the Justice Department file legal briefs supporting lawsuits seeking to overturn the election, requests that Rosen refused.
According to the Times, Jeffrey Clark, then the acting head of DOJ’s civil division, met with Trump in early January to brainstorm ways the Justice Department could assist Trump’s legal efforts to remain in office despite his election defeat. Clark reportedly proposed that Trump fire Rosen, who was by then serving as acting attorney general, and install Clark in his place. Under this plan, Clark could use the department in ways Rosen had refused to do and assist Trump’s antidemocratic goals.
Clark and Rosen were later both summoned to the Oval Office to make competing pitches as to why they should be the one to see out the remainder of the Trump administration as acting attorney general, the Times reported. Threats of resignations among top DOJ officials reportedly swayed Trump against replacing Rosen.
Immediately following these revelations, American Oversight filed a suite of Freedom of Information Act requests as part of our investigation into efforts by the Trump administration to undermine the presidential election results. The requests seek the expedited public release of the following records:
As of today, DOJ has failed to provide responses to American Oversight’s requests, despite the DOJ’s granting American Oversight’s requests for expedited processing. Today’s complaint asks a judge to compel DOJ to comply with the law and produce all responsive records.
“President Trump spent four years trying to bend the Department of Justice to his will, and his final attempt brought the United States dangerously close to a coup,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “The public needs the full truth of exactly how Donald Trump and his allies tried to overturn the election so we can ensure that no future president can use the Department of Justice as a cudgel against our democracy.”
More information on American Oversight’s investigation of efforts to overturn the election is available here.
A copy of the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is available here.
Part of Investigation: