MANY REPUBLICANS want the nation to ignore and forget President Donald Trump’s poisonous final months in office — the most dangerous moment in modern presidential history, orchestrated by the man to whom the GOP still swears allegiance. Yet the country must not forget how close it came to a full-blown constitutional crisis, or worse. Tuesday brought another reminder that, but for the principled resistance of some key officials, the consequences could have been disastrous.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Tuesday released emails showing that the White House waged a behind-the-scenes effort to enlist the Justice Department in its crusade to advance Mr. Trump’s baseless allegations of fraud in the 2020 election. On Dec. 14, 10 days before Jeffrey Rosen took over as acting attorney general, Mr. Trump’s assistant emailed Mr. Rosen, asserting that Dominion Voting Systems machines in Michigan were intentionally fixed and pointing to a debunked analysis showing what “the machines can and did do to move votes.” The email declared, “We believe it has happened everywhere.”

Later that month, Mr. Trump’s assistant sent Mr. Rosen a brief that the president apparently wanted the Justice Department to submit to the Supreme Court. The draft mirrored the empty arguments that the state of Texas made to the court before the justices dismissed the state’s lawsuit. Piling on the pressure, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also dispatched an email asking Mr. Rosen to examine allegations of voter fraud in Georgia. A day later, Mr. Meadows apparently forwarded Mr. Rosen a video alleging that Italians used satellites to manipulate voting equipment. These were just some of the preposterous White House emails claiming fraud in arguably the most secure presidential election ever.

More than six months after the 2020 presidential election, Arizona Senate Republicans are leading an audit of the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County. (Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)

To his credit, Mr. Rosen rebuffed the White House’s entreaties to deploy the Justice Department’s vast powers on behalf of Mr. Trump’s lie, adding his name to the roster of honorable state and federal officials who showed fidelity to truth and duty at that crucial moment. Some have paid with their jobs. Republicans committed to the “big lie” are gunning to replace others, including those with vote-counting responsibilities. If Mr. Trump or another candidate again presses false fraud claims, many Republican officials may find it more difficult to resist the pressure to back the lie — or, indeed, may eagerly participate in advancing it.

Given Mr. Trump’s reckless actions after losing the 2020 vote, and the violence they spurred, the newly released emails are unsurprising. But consider that fact for a moment: It is unsurprising that the president of the United States leaned on the Justice Department to help him try to steal an election. The country cannot forget that Mr. Trump betrayed his oath, that most Republican officeholders remain loyal to him nonetheless — and that it could be worse next time.

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