Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday called what he called a “smoking gun” to criminally charge former President Donald Trump with his plot to overthrow the 2020 presidential election.
Speaking Thursday before a House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, Richard Donoghue, who served as deputy attorney general in the final weeks of Trump’s administration, testified that Trump ordered him to “just say the election was corrupt and the rest leave me and the Republican congressmen” during a call on December 27, 2020
Donoghue wrote down the directive in his notes and showed that it was “an exact quote from the President”.
“It’s a smoking gun. In combination with other indications, [it] demonstrates both the essential involvement of Trump and his corrupt intentions, the necessary state of mind,” Holder, who worked in the administration of Barack Obama, tweeted.
Any prosecution of Trump would have to convince jurors that Trump acted with the malice of overturning the election results, knowing that he legally lost.
Donoghue also wrote that Trump said the Justice Department “has an obligation to tell the people that this was an illegal, corrupt election.”
Asked if the Justice Department had indeed found evidence of corruption in the 2020 presidential election, Donoghue said: “There have been isolated cases of fraud. None of them came close to calling into question the outcome of an election in any particular state.”
Thursday’s hearing focused on attempts by Trump and his allies to pressure Justice Department officials to support his plan to topple democracy and stay in power.
A number of former Justice Department officials said the January 6 committee hearing provided strong evidence that Trump committed crimes.
Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, told The Guardian last week that “the committee hearing reinforced the need to seriously consider bringing criminal charges against Trump.”
Current Attorney General Merrick Garland has yet to indicate whether Trump is under investigation or charges will be filed, though he said he would be following the hearing closely.