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Timeline of the coup: How Trump tried to weaponize the DOJ to overturn the 2020 election


A lot of Trump’s actions have been achieved in public view, together with dozens of ill-fated lawsuits and tweets that undermined the electoral course of. However congressional inquiries and information experiences have shed new mild on what occurred behind the scenes as Trump tried to cling to energy.

Maybe essentially the most disturbing facet of Trump’s tried coup was how he relentlessly tried to weaponize the Justice Division to nullify President Joe Biden’s victory. The Democratic-run Senate Judiciary Committee investigated Trump’s conduct and concluded in a recent report that he “grossly abused the facility of the presidency.”

This is a big-picture breakdown of the tried coup, together with a day-by-day timeline of Trump’s efforts to co-opt the Justice Division to assist his marketing campaign.

4 days after Election Day, CNN and different information retailers projected that Biden had won. As a substitute of conceding, Trump instantly began pressuring native, state and federal officers to overturn the outcomes. Many of those officers rebuffed his calls for, concluding they have been unethical, unlawful or unconstitutional. However some officers and advisers joined the cost and tried to assist.
Inside weeks, Trump met with and spoke to officers from Michigan and Pennsylvania who have been concerned within the election course of, hoping they’d block Biden’s victory. He fired a senior cybersecurity official on the Division of Homeland Safety who publicly debunked his lies about voter fraud. And he cranked up the stress on the Justice Division, even after Legal professional Common Invoice Barr ordered prosecutors to analyze voter fraud allegations.

He tried — however failed — to cease certification in key states in late November and December. After that, Trump and his allies filed meritless lawsuits throughout the nation looking for to nullify the outcomes.

Trump referred to as Pennsylvania lawmakers, urging them to disregard the truth that Biden received their state and appoint GOP electors as an alternative. He called Georgia’s governor and pushed him to persuade state lawmakers there to do the identical. These efforts additionally fell flat, and members of the Electoral School met on December 14, 2020, to officially affirm Biden’s victory.
Operating out of time earlier than the switch of energy, Trump grew to become more and more determined and even entertained a suggestion to declare martial law. In a now-infamous call on January 2, 2021, Trump pleaded with Georgia’s high election official to “discover” sufficient Republican votes to overhaul Biden’s margin. (This cellphone name is now on the middle of a criminal investigation by state prosecutors in Atlanta.)
Trump and his allies repeatedly urged high Justice Division officers to assist them overturn the outcomes — and Trump nearly fired the appearing lawyer basic who refused to do his bidding.
Trump additionally mounted a personal and public effort to pressure Vice President Mike Pence into unconstitutionally nullifying Biden’s win whereas presiding over the Electoral School course of.
The coup try reached a horrifying crescendo on January 6, 2021, when Trump held an enormous rally close to the White Home and incited hundreds of supporters to attack the Capitol whereas lawmakers have been certifying the Electoral School outcomes. The revolt was quelled, however it led to 5 deaths and 140 cops have been injured. Biden was inaugurated two weeks later.

Timeline of Trump’s efforts to abuse the DOJ

November 7

  • CNN and different information networks project that Biden will win the 2020 presidential election.

November 9

  • Breaking from long-standing Justice Division coverage, Barr issues a directive giving federal prosecutors extra leeway to ramp up voter fraud investigations. The transfer is controversial as a result of — for many years — the Justice Division would wait till elections have been licensed earlier than taking overt investigative steps, to keep away from the looks of attempting to affect the outcomes. The highest election crimes prosecutor resigns in protest, and different prosecutors denounce Barr’s order.

November 19

  • Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell maintain a bizarre news conference full of lies about fraud and unhinged discuss of a worldwide conspiracy to rig the election. Powell says, “A full-scale prison investigation must be undertaken instantly by the Division of Justice.”
Rudy Giuliani, attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Thursday, November 19, 2020.

November 29

  • In an interview with Fox Information, Trump says it is “inconceivable” that the Justice Division and FBI aren’t doing extra to analyze his voter fraud allegations. “The place are they?” he asks.

December 1

  • Barr tells The Related Press in a bombshell interview that the Justice Division did not discover widespread fraud. After the story is revealed, Trump confronts Barr within the White Home. In accordance with a book by Washington Publish reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, an “explosive and crazed” Trump berates Barr for publicly admitting that there wasn’t widespread fraud. Barr tells Trump his marketing campaign legal professionals are a “clown present” and that his fraud claims are “full nonsense.”

December 10

  • Trump retweets a post from a Republican congressman who mentioned Trump ought to order Barr to nominate a particular prosecutor to “examine irregularities within the 2020 election.”

December 14

  • Trump’s assistant sends Deputy Legal professional Common Jeff Rosen a doc about alleged irregularities in Michigan and says it is “from POTUS,” in accordance with emails launched by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Later that day, whereas the Electoral School meets in state capitals, Trump proclaims that Barr will resign and Rosen will quickly exchange him in an appearing capability. CNN reported that Trump severely thought of firing Barr, however Barr determined to stop.
Jeffrey Rosen, deputy attorney general, speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C.

December 15

  • Trump summons Rosen to the Oval Workplace and pressures him to take motion concerning supposed irregularities in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, in accordance with Rosen’s testimony to the Senate. Trump additionally urges Rosen to file authorized briefs supporting GOP-backed election lawsuits and to nominate a particular counsel to hunt for fraud, in accordance with The New York Times. Rosen refuses to do Trump’s bidding.

December 18

  • After failing to steer Rosen, Trump turns to among the most excessive members of his coterie, together with Powell and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. (Powell represented Flynn in his prison case for mendacity to the FBI about his Russian contacts. That case ended when Trump pardoned Flynn a number of weeks earlier than the White Home assembly.) CNN reported that Flynn and Powell push Trump to think about declaring martial law or signing government orders to grab voting gear. Trump additionally thought of circumventing the Justice Division and naming Powell as a particular counsel inside the White Home to analyze weird vote-rigging conspiracies.

December 21

  • Trump falsely claims — but once more — that he received “in a landslide” and says “we want backing from the Justice Division” to uncover the supposed fraud and hold him in energy.

December 23

  • Barr formally resigns, and Rosen turns into appearing lawyer basic.

Shortly earlier than December 24

  • Trump meets with Jeffrey Clark, the appearing assistant lawyer basic for the Civil Division, who later will play a key position within the effort to make use of the Justice Division to maintain Trump in energy.

December 24

  • In a cellphone name, Trump tells Rosen to “be sure that the (Justice) Division is de facto wanting into” voter fraud claims in Pennsylvania and Arizona, in accordance with Rosen’s testimony to the Senate.

December 26

  • In a series of tweets, Trump bashes the Justice Division and the FBI for having “achieved nothing” about supposed voter fraud. He says “historical past will keep in mind” their inaction and promotes his upcoming rally in DC on January 6, when Congress will affirm the Electoral School outcomes.

December 27

  • Trump continues pleading with Rosen to intervene within the election. In a cellphone name, Trump tells Rosen and his deputy Richard Donoghue that they need to “simply say that the election was corrupt” and “go away the remainder to me and the (GOP) congressmen,” in accordance with Donoghue’s contemporaneous notes, which he later supplied to the Home Oversight Committee. Rosen informs Trump that the voter fraud allegations are unfounded and that the Justice Division “cannot, and will not, simply flip a change and alter the election.” After that, Trump mentions that he is serious about eliminating Rosen and placing Clark accountable for the Justice Division.
  • At Trump’s request, GOP Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania later calls Donoghue and says the Justice Division is not doing sufficient in regards to the election, in accordance with the Senate report. Perry was some of the vocal promoters of the “massive lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.
Richard Donoghue served as acting Deputy Attorney General for the critical transition period between the Trump and Biden administrations. He witnessed some of Trump's efforts to pressure the Justice Department to help him stay in power.

December 28

  • Trump calls Donoghue for a quick follow-up about his voter fraud claims, per the Senate report.
  • Clark circulates a draft letter amongst Justice Division management that he desires to ship to officers in Georgia. The letter would’ve achieved precisely what Trump wished: It says prosecutors discovered “vital issues” with the election outcomes and urges the Republican governor to “instantly name a particular session” of the state legislature to nominate pro-Trump electors. Clark calls this a “proof of idea” that might be replicated in different states Trump misplaced.
  • Rosen and Donoghue refuse to signal the letter and it’s by no means despatched. In an e mail, Donoghue bluntly tells Clark that “there is no such thing as a likelihood that I might signal this letter or something remotely like this.”
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee report concluded that “Clark’s proposal to wield DOJ’s energy to override the already-certified in style vote mirrored a surprising distortion of DOJ’s authority.”
  • Individually, Trump meets with a supportive lawyer, Kurt Olsen. Trump directs Olsen to get in contact with high Justice Division officers about submitting a lawsuit that may nullify the outcomes from a number of key states that Biden received, according to emails launched by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Olsen later has a cellphone name with Rosen’s chief of employees in regards to the potential swimsuit.
  • In accordance with inside emails made public within the Senate report, Clark begins promoting pro-Trump conspiracy theories inside the Justice Division, together with the absurd declare that Chinese language spies used thermometers to tamper with US voting machines.

December 29

  • Trump’s assistant sends a draft lawsuit to Rosen, saying Trump desires him to evaluation it, in accordance with emails launched by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The lawsuit, which was peddled by Olsen, is not ever filed. However the draft envisions that the Justice Division would ask the Supreme Courtroom to nullify the outcomes from a number of battleground states that Biden received.
  • White Home chief of employees Mark Meadows emails Rosen for the primary time a couple of farfetched and baseless conspiracy theory alleging that Biden supporters on the CIA used Italian satellites to remotely change votes from Trump to Biden.

December 30

  • Meadows emails Rosen and asks him to “have your staff look into” a number of pro-Trump voter fraud theories in Georgia, in accordance with paperwork launched by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Individually, Trump retweets a post about fraud claims in Georgia, and provides, “the place is the FBI?”
  • Olsen, the pro-Trump lawyer, calls Rosen and says Trump desires the Justice Division to “file this transient by midday as we speak,” referring to the potential Supreme Courtroom lawsuit. Trump later speaks with Rosen, who tells him that the Justice Division has no authorized foundation to file the swimsuit.

December 31

  • Rosen and Donoghue go to the White Home for one more assembly with Trump, in accordance with the Senate report. Rosen later testified to the Senate that Trump “appeared sad” that the Justice Division nonetheless had not “discovered the fraud.” Donoghue later testified that Trump talked about he was contemplating firing Rosen and putting in Clark because the chief of the Justice Division.

January 1

  • In a sequence of emails over a number of days, Meadows encourages Rosen to analyze a number of voter fraud theories, in accordance with paperwork launched by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Meadows brings up alleged irregularities in Atlanta, and even in New Mexico, which Biden received by 11 factors. Rosen takes no motion, and Donoghue brushes off Meadows’ newest fraud theories as “pure madness.”

January 3

  • Rosen and Clark go to the Oval Workplace for an “Apprentice”-style showdown, in accordance with testimony from high officers. Trump considers firing Rosen and putting in Clark as appearing lawyer basic, as a result of Clark is keen to ship the letters to Georgia and different battleground states telling them there have been “irregularities” with their elections. Trump opens the three-hour assembly by saying, “One factor we all know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do something to overturn the election.” CNN beforehand reported that a couple of half-dozen senior division officers are ready to resign in protest if Rosen is deposed, however Rosen survives the meeting.
  • Later that night time, after the assembly, Trump calls Donoghue to inform him about new fraud claims.

January 4

  • The US lawyer in Atlanta, Byung Jin “BJay” Pak, abruptly resigns, citing “unexpected circumstances.” In accordance with Pak’s testimony to the Senate, Donoghue instructed him he wanted to stop as a result of Trump was going to fireside him. Trump mentioned in the course of the Oval Workplace showdown a day earlier that he believed Pak was a “by no means Trumper” and that Pak wasn’t doing sufficient to seek out fraud. Trump then adjustments the road of succession to exchange Pak with a US lawyer who he believes will “do one thing” in regards to the election, in accordance with the Senate report.
  • Individually, Trump meets with Pence within the Oval Workplace. Additionally in attendance is right-wing lawyer John Eastman, who pitches Pence on a legally doubtful scheme to declare Trump the winner whereas Pence presides over the counting of the electoral votes, in accordance with a bombshell book from Washington Publish journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. (Eastman later instructed CNN that he sought solely to delay certification, to not throw the election to Trump.)

January 6

  • Tens of hundreds of Trump supporters descend on Washington for a rally. Trump delivers a militant speech and urges his followers to march to the Capitol and “struggle like hell” to cease lawmakers, and Pence, from certifying the election outcomes. Thousand of rioters attack the Capitol, breaching the Senate flooring. Five people die within the chaos and 140 cops are harm. The revolt is quashed after several hours. Lawmakers certify Biden’s victory, Pence ignores Eastman’s scheme and follows the Structure, and Biden turns into President-elect.
 A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers.

January 20

  • Biden is sworn in because the forty sixth President on the identical stage that rioters had ransacked a number of weeks earlier. In his inaugural handle, Biden says, “Now we have realized once more that democracy is valuable. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my pals, democracy has prevailed.”
Joe Biden is sworn in as U.S. President as his wife Dr. Jill Biden looks on during his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.



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