But the latest revelations push us into terrible new territory. First, they fill in important new detail demonstrating that Trump absolutely did fully intend to thwart a duly elected new government — the one chosen by the people — from assuming power, in order to seize a second term for himself illegitimately.
Second, there’s reason to think that in this case, as we learn more the revelations are going to get worse.
Here’s why: There is a chance that House Democrats will soon secure an interview with the person at the center of these new revelations.
That person is Jeffrey Rosen, who became acting attorney general after William P. Barr was pushed out by Trump in December of 2020. If an interview can be secured, Rosen can tell us more about Trump’s efforts to corrupt the department in order to subvert our political system and self rule.
Rosen, we’re now learning, was a key target of Trump’s efforts to get the department to help him overturn the election results. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee just released a tranche of new emails and documents revealing how Trump did this. The department turned the documents over to the committee as part of its ongoing investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Among the key revelations:
- Trump’s White House assistant sent Rosen an email on Dec. 14 that included materials purporting to document extensive election fraud in Michigan. The email included “talking points” that said there must be a “review of votes throughout Michigan.”
- Just after this happened, a senior Justice Department official forwarded a similar email with these materials to U.S. attorneys in Michigan, which seems like it might have been an effort to get an investigation going.
- Less than an hour after those emails were sent, Trump announced on Twitter that Barr would be stepping down, and that Rosen would be replacing him. Importantly, Trump had already sent Rosen his marching orders in terms of helping subvert the election.
- On Dec. 29, Trump’s White House assistant sent a draft brief to Rosen and other top department officials that Trump wanted the department to file with the Supreme Court. It called on the court to declare that electors for Joe Biden in six states that Trump lost must not be counted. The email explicitly says Trump personally asked for the brief to be sent for those officials’ review, a direct presidential order.
- According to the New York Times, that brief echoed the baseless claims made in the Texas lawsuit that also sought to invalidate Biden’s electors, which the Supreme Court had already dismissed. This shows Trump was fully devoted to subverting the election outcome now matter how fraudulent his legal claims were revealed to be.
There’s lots more here, including additional efforts by others in Trump’s orbit — such as then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — to pressure the department to examine claims of purported election fraud.
As bad as all this is, we may learn more that’s still worse. That’s because, as sources on the committee tell me, Rosen is in discussions with committee officials about sitting for a transcribed interview.
What we might still learn
Such an interview could fill in critical details. Among the things Rosen could speak to are whether there were additional communications between Trump and Rosen — including verbal ones, as well as unreleased email communications.
If there were more communications between them, Rosen could fill in additional detail about the full scope of Trump’s efforts to get the department to help overturn the election.
Those could easily demonstrate even worse and more concerted efforts to corrupt the department than those we already know about. According to the committee sources, the department has not indicated that what they did turn over is all it has in its possession along these lines.
Rosen might also be able to say when in the timeline he realized just how serious and deliberate Trump’s efforts to overturn the election really were. And he might be able to say more about possible additional efforts by Trump or people around him to get other department officials to scrutinize other examples of supposed election fraud.
Let’s not lose sight of what really happened
Here’s the larger context: Republicans are still refusing to agree to a bipartisan commission to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection. This is coming amid widespread claims by Trump and his propagandists that the violence wasn’t really all that bad or that he didn’t actually intend for the mob he incited to subvert the election’s peaceful conclusion through intimidation and violence.
This newly revealed pressure on the Justice Department came in the days leading right up to that incitement. The more it’s revealed that Trump absolutely did fully intend to subvert the election via corrupt and illicit means to remain in power illegitimately, the harder it is to deny what we all saw with our own eyes.
After failing to accomplish that via his bottomless efforts to corrupt the process, Trump attempted to complete the task with mob political violence. That’s what happened, and the more we learn, the worse it will be.