The Department of Justice should investigate whether former President Trump and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows violated federal criminal law by attempting to weaponize the Department of Justice as part of their larger campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

News reports and recently released internal DOJ emails reveal Trump and Meadows engaged in a public and private campaign to pressure federal and state government officials to use their authority to instigate frivolous investigations into voter fraud, file baseless lawsuits challenging the validity of the election in several states and commit election fraud with the intent of overturning the presidential election, which appears to have violated criminal civil rights law. Trump and Meadows also appear to have violated criminal provisions of the Hatch Act by illegally pressuring and attempting to coerce high-ranking DOJ officials to advance a partisan political agenda to affect the outcome of the election. 

“These alarming and illegal acts were part of a broader conspiracy to deprive American citizens of their right to vote and to have their votes counted. Ultimately, this pattern of misconduct aimed at undermining the democratic process culminated in the seditious attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “Government officials who try to subvert our republic and undermine democratic rule must be held accountable to the full extent of the criminal law.”

In addition to today’s complaint, CREW filed a complaint in January with the DOJ and the Fulton County District Attorney alleging that President Trump violated multiple laws by pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn the results of Georgia’s presidential election. A few months later, CREW also requested all communications and meeting records between Meadows and officials within DOJ and other government agencies after DOJ emails showed that Meadows repeatedly pushed former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to investigate baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. 

“Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump repeatedly attempted to co-opt the powers and resources of the federal government to serve his own political agenda and secure his re-election,” Bookbinder said. “By pressuring top DOJ officials to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories, Trump and Meadows not only wasted crucial government resources, but showcased a brazen attempt to validate misinformation and politicize law enforcement powers to further Trump’s personal interests.” 


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