Former President Donald J. Trump said this week that he would not help prevent former Justice Department officials from giving testimony before two committees investigating the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the presidential election results, like from letters from his attorney who The. received the New York Times.
Mr Trump said he would not stop six former Justice Department officials from testifying, according to letters sent to them Monday by Douglas A. Collins, who was known to be one of Mr Trump’s most loyal supporters when he was in Congress served, and who is now one of the former president’s attorneys.
Mr Collins said Mr Trump could take some undisclosed legal action if Congressional investigators seek “privileged information” from “other officials or advisers to the Trump administration,” including “taking any necessary and reasonable steps on behalf of President Trump to to defend the office ”. the presidency. “
The letters were not sent to the congressional committees, but rather to the potential witnesses who have no control over who Congress contacts for testimony or what information it seeks.
By allowing his former Justice Department officials to speak to investigators, Trump has paved the way for new details about his efforts to de-legitimize the election result.
Although Department officials including Mr Rosen and former Attorney General William P. Barr told him that President Biden won the election, Trump urged them to take action that would question the election results and publicly declare it corrupt .
Mr Trump and his allies have continued to falsely claim in public statements that the elections were rigged and that the results were fraudulent.
Jeffrey A. Rosen, a former acting attorney general, Richard P. Donoghue, a former assistant attorney general, and others have agreed to sit down for transcribed interviews with the House Oversight and Reform Committees and the Senate Judiciary Committees. Sessions are expected to start later this week, according to three people familiar with these interviews.
Last week, the Justice Department told ex-agency officials that they could “testify indefinitely” to the committees as long as they did not divulge grand jury information, classified information or information about pending criminal proceedings.
The committees called on the Justice Department to testify former officials after opening an investigation earlier this year into Trump’s White House efforts to undermine Mr Biden’s victory, a pressure campaign that took place in the weeks before Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol as Congress convened to certify election results.
The Justice Department and the White House Legal Department generally deny such requests because they believe that deliberative discussions between administrative officials should be protected from public scrutiny.
But they eventually decided to allow the interrogation and said in letters to the potential witnesses that the scope of the investigation concerned “extraordinary events,” including whether Mr Trump had attempted to use the Justice Department inappropriately to promote his “personal political.” Interests ”. and thus represented “exceptional circumstances”.
In his letter, Mr. Collins also said that Mr. Trump continued to believe that the information sought by committees “is and should be protected from disclosure by the privilege of the executive branch.”
Mr. Collins said that no president has the power to unilaterally waive this privilege and that the Biden administration “did not seek or take into account” Mr. Trump’s views in deciding not to invoke it.
“Such consideration is the minimum that should be required before a president foregoes the executive’s privilege to protect a predecessor’s communications,” wrote Collins.
The committees also received a number of emails, handwritten notes, and other documents from the Justice Department showing how Mr. Trump, Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, and others urged the Justice Department to investigate the election fraud allegations under investigation, rather than backed by evidence, To ask the Supreme Court to overturn the election results and publicly question the result.
In addition to Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue, Congress has asked six former officials to testify. That list includes Patrick Hovakimian, Mr. Rosen’s former chief of staff; Byung J. Pak, the former US attorney in Atlanta; Bobby L. Christine, the former US attorney in Savannah; and Jeffrey B. Clark, the former acting head of the Civil Department.