On Friday, the New York Times published a bombshell story headlined: “Trump Pressed Justice Dept. to Declare Election Results Corrupt, Notes Show.”
The handwritten notes that were the basis of this outlandish allegation were from a post-election meeting between Trump, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, and Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue.
Katie Benner of the New York Times claims that the notes revealed that Trump “pressed top Justice Department officials late last year to declare that the election was corrupt even though they had found no instances of widespread fraud, so he and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to try to overturn the results.”
“The demands were an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with an agency that is typically more independent from the White House to advance his personal agenda,” Benner wrote.
But what do the notes actually say? Margot Cleveland of The Federalist review the notes, and concluded that they “expose the Times as once again a purveyor of fake news.”
Here’s how Benner presented the alleged conversation.
President Donald J. Trump pressed top Justice Department officials late last year to declare that the election was corrupt even though they had found no instances of widespread fraud, so that he and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to try to overturn the results, according to new documents provided to lawmakers and obtained by The New York Times.
The exchange unfolded during a phone call on Dec. 27 in which Mr. Trump pressed the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, on voter fraud claims that the Justice Department had found no evidence for. Mr. Donoghue warned that the department had no power to change the outcome of the election. Mr. Trump replied that he did not expect that, according to notes Mr. Donoghue took memorializing the conversation.
“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and to congressional allies, Mr. Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.
So, how did the conversation really go? It turns out that Trump’s comment “just say that the election was corrupt” came during a completely different portion of the discussion and was not in response to Trump being told that voter fraud claims had been disproven, as the article appears to imply.
According to the notes, during the conversation, Trump said that there were only five million voters in Pennsylvania but there had been 5.25 million votes cast, which he characterized as “clearly fraud.”
Donaghue then assured Trump that the DOJ would “look at whether there were more ballots in PA than registered voters,” but also said that they “should be able to check on that quickly but understand that the DOJ can’t + won’t snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way.”
That’s when Trump said, “[I] don’t expect you to do that, say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” apparently referring to the election in Pennsylvania as it related to the number of votes cast.
According to Cleveland, “This context changes everything.”
“Trump didn’t tell his acting attorney general and deputy AG to ignore the department’s conclusion that there was no fraud and to instead announce to Americans that the election was corrupt, leaving it to him and his ‘congressional allies’ to overturn the results of the election,” she explains. “Rather, Trump wanted the DOJ to make that announcement following confirmation that more ballots were cast in Pennsylvania then [sic] there were registered voters.”
“While there weren’t more ballots cast in Pennsylvania than there were voters, had the DOJ established such fraud had occurred, there would be nothing untoward with officials announcing those findings and that the state’s election was corrupt,” Cleveland added.
Sadly, like everything else connected to the election, the media has an agenda, and the facts don’t matter. When the truth doesn’t fit with the narrative, they twist the facts, which is what it appears the New York Times did. Certainly, there’s context missing that we can’t get just from handwritten notes, but one thing the notes make clear is that there was never a point in the conversation where Trump pressured the DOJ to ignore its own findings and just announce that the entire election was corrupt. In fact, it appears the Department of Justice never investigated allegations of fraud.