Trump won’t stop former top Justice Department officials from testifying about election overturn effort despite ‘unlawful’ Biden waiver – but may sue if they seek ‘privileged information’ from others
- A Donald Trump lawyer called DOJ’s memo on allowing officials to testify ‘unlawful’
- But he said Trump won’t seek ‘judicial intervention’ to avoid ‘further distraction’
- Comes as the House Oversight panel prepares to interview top officials who spoke with Trump as he pursued claims of fraud
- Memo revealed last week showed Trump telling top DOJ official to ‘just say that the election was corrupt’
President Donald Trump will not use the courts to try to prevent former Justice Officials from testifying about their conversations with him in his election overturn efforts before he left office – even as his lawyer called a Biden Administration waiver for testimony ‘unlawful.’
Trump’s posture, which his new lawyer former Rep. Doug Collins cast as a limited waiver of authority, comes as House investigators probe the days leading up to the January 6th Capitol riot.
Collins – who months ago Trump was touting as a possible candidate for Georgia governor over Brian Kemp – who clashed with Trump over his claims of election fraud – spelled out the position in a new letter.
Donald Trump lawyer former Rep. Doug Collins said in a letter congressional requests for former DOJ officials to testify were ‘unlawful,’ but said Trump would not exercise legal options for now
That letter was in response to the Biden Justice Department allowing officials to testify, citing the extraordinary circumstances of the riot on the day Congress met to count the electoral votes.
‘Please be advised that the Department’s purported waiver and authorization are unlawful, and that President Trump continues to assert that the non-public information the Committees seek is and should be protected from disclosure by executive privilege,’ wrote Collins on his Georgia law firm stationary.
But he indicated Trump would avoid outright opposition.
The letter references a House committee’s request for former Trump administration officials to testify
The officials took part in conversations with Trump as he sought to overturn the election
House committees are probing Trump’s election overturn efforts
‘Just say that the election was corrupt,’ former President Donald Trump told top Justice Department officials, according to notes of a Dec. 27, 2020 converstaion
‘Nonetheless, to avoid further distraction and without in any way otherwise waiving the executive privilege associated with the matters the Committees are purporting to investigate, President Trump will agree not to seek judicial intervention to prevent your testimony or the testimony of the five other former department officials… so long as the Committees do not seek privileged information from any other Trump administration officials or advisors,’ he wrote.
It was not known whether he was seeking such an agreement in advance, or whether the House Oversight Committee would consider providing it. Collins didn’t identify what other former officials would provoke a different response.
Trump’s lawyer raising judicial intervention is no idle threat: when he was president, Trump fought to prevent key aides from participating in congressional probes he branded part of a ‘witch hunt’ against him. Former White House counsel Don McGahn did not appear to take questions on the Russia probe until after Trump left office.
Collins’ letter, dated August 2, comes days after the House Oversight Committee released internal documents that appear to show Trump pressuring top officials to parrot his claims of election fraud amid his effort to overturn the results.
‘Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,’ Trump told then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue of a December 27, 2020 phone call that also included Acting AG Jeffrey Rosen.
The notes memorialize a phone call between Trump, identified as ‘P,’ and Rosen, identified as ‘DAG.’ Rosen had assumed authority in the last weeks of Trump’s term after Attorney General Bill Barr departed days earlier – after himself saying there was not evidence of widespread election fraud.
Rosen tried to tell the president there were limitations preventing him from giving the president what he wanted. The notes say: ‘understand that the DOJ can’t + won’t snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way.’
‘These people who [are] saying that the election isn’t corrupt are corrupt,’ according to notes of the president’s conversation with top DOJ officials
‘We have an obligation to tell people that this was an illegal, corrupt election,’ according to notes on Trump call with DOJ officials
Collins previously served on the House Judiciary Committee, where he was a Trump defender. His bio on his law firm web site notes that he ‘led the defense’ of Trump during House impeachment proceedings, and served on Trump’s defense team for the second impeachment as well.
It also notes that ‘Trump has said in the past he would like Collins to challenge Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the primary election next year.’