The public deserves to know how the Office of Legal Counsel responded to the Trump administration’s pressure campaign on the Department of Justice to overturn the 2020 election results. Recently released records indicated that former President Donald Trump and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows illegally pressured senior DOJ officials to pursue frivolous election fraud investigations, including suggesting filing a baseless legal complaint with the United States Supreme Court.
CREW has requested all opinions, memoranda or analyses issued by the OLC between November 4, 2020 and January 20, 2021 pertaining to the DOJ’s involvement in litigation or investigations relating to the 2020 election results. This includes any opinions provided to former Attorney General William Barr or former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on whether the DOJ’s involvement would be legal.
Based on a long-standing policy, the DOJ defers the principal responsibility of overseeing the election process to the states, which have “primary authority to ensure that only qualified individuals register and vote, that the polling process is conducted fairly, and that the candidate who received the most valid votes is certified as the winner.” The DOJ has no role in pursuing Trump’s personal agenda and should never have been pressured to do so.
The efforts of the White House to pursue election conspiracy theories and pressure the DOJ to intervene is an attack on the basic ideals of our democracy. Advancing false election fraud claims delegitimizes the election process. Pressuring top DOJ officials to look into these claims further erodes the legitimacy and independence of democratic institutions. The release of these records could reveal the full extent of the White House’s pressure campaign, as well as whether OLC weighed in on the legality of DOJ participation.