Trump Feared Only What He Himself Had To Lose With ‘Murderous’ Election Move: Witness
Mary Papenfuss – March 4, 2022
Donald Trump reportedly wasn’t concerned about pulling what was described to him as a national political “murder-suicide” move by upending the 2020 presidential election. What he wanted to know was if he had anything to lose, former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue told the House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot.
Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Justice Department officials met with Trump in the Oval Office and railed against a post-election plan from Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, a Trump supporter who was also in the meeting. Clark wanted to distribute letters to state legislatures falsely saying that the election may have been stolen and urging them to reconsider their certified election results, according to Donoghue’s account of the conversation.
“That letter that this guy [Clark] wants to send — that letter is a murder-suicide pact,” Cipollone told Trump, according to a transcript of Donoghue’s interview with the Jan. 6 committee. “It’s going to damage everyone who touches it. And we should have nothing to do with that letter.”
The startling account was included in the committee’s response Thursday to a lawsuit from Trump’s “coup memo” lawyer John Eastman, who is seeking to withhold documents from the committee.
Trump seemed unfazed by the warning and was worried only about himself, according to Donoghue. He was seriously considering replacing then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Clark so Clark could carry out his plan. Rosen had recently replaced William Barr, who had resigned as attorney general amid his own dispute with Trump over the election results.
“The president said something to the effect of: ‘What do I have to lose? If I do this, what do I have to lose?’” Donoghue recounted to the House committee.
Donoghue said he replied: “Mr. President, you have a great deal to lose. Is this really how you want your administration to end? You’re going to hurt the country.”
Donoghue also attacked Clark as being someone who was woefully unqualified to be attorney general and who was grabbing half-baked election fraud theories off the internet to peddle to Trump.
“I made the point that Jeff Clark is not even competent to serve as the Attorney General,” Donoghue told the committee, according to the transcript. “He’s never been a criminal attorney. He’s never conducted a criminal investigation in his life. He’s never been in front of a grand jury, much less a trial jury.”
The Jan. 6 committee argued in its response to Eastman’s lawsuit that it has a right to the documents because it has a “good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” it wrote in a filing submitted in a U.S. District Court in California.
The filing argues that Trump knew the presidential election was legitimate yet took action to overturn the results.