American Oversight Sues Justice Department for Records Related to Attempts to Overturn 2020 Election

On Oct. 8, American Oversight sued the Department of Justice to compel the release of records related to top Trump officials’ efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Among the records sought are notes from White House meetings during the presidential transition period, a time when then-President Trump and his allies were engaged in a pressure campaign to get the Justice Department to aid efforts that Trump believed would reverse his election loss. We are also seeking documents from Jeffrey Clark, the Justice Department official whom Trump wanted to install as acting attorney general in early January thanks to Clark’s support for Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee released a report that provided more details about Trump’s plan to oust acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. Trump conspired to replace him with Clark when Rosen refused to announce investigations of election fraud or to send a letter to Georgia state leaders alleging voting “irregularities.” The letter asked state officials to convene a special legislative session that would potentially appoint new electors; according to the report, Clark suggested that the letter also go to officials in other states where Trump supporters were seeking to reverse Biden’s win. 

Following Rosen’s refusal, Trump threatened to replace him with Clark, who said he would send the letter, leading to a lengthy White House meeting on Jan. 3. Trump abandoned the plan after Rosen, acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and other top officials threatened to resign.

In June, American Oversight filed several Freedom of Information Act requests to the Justice Department for records from this time period, including Rosen’s and Clark’s calendars from November through January, notes from White House meetings (including the Jan. 3 meeting), and communications related to Trump allies’ efforts to overturn the election results. The calendars could help shed more light on who was brought into Trump’s anti-democracy conspiracies prior to his leaving office.

Since American Oversight submitted the requests and received acknowledgment, the Justice Department has failed to release the documents, leading to last week’s lawsuit. Read more here about our investigation into Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election.