Image Credits: Alex Brandon/AP.
If you want to feel sad, I suggest you read the most recent Staff Minority Report produced by Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee.. It’s the congressional equivalent of a judicial dissent meant to criticize the findings of the full committee. It’s an attempted rebuttal to a lengthy report entitled Subverting Justice: How the Former President and His Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is responsible for issuing the Minority Report, and his method is to acknowledge most of what Trump did but to explain it away by pointing out that the disgraced former president ultimately backed down on taking the most dramatic steps. A good example is Grassley’s insistence that Trump listened to his advisers and refrained from firing Jeffrey Rosen as acting Attorney General. Yet, Trump was only dissuaded from taking that step when many of those advisers, including two of his attorneys, said they would resign in protest if he went through with it.
Similarly, Grassley gives Trump credit for rejecting a plan hatched by Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division Jeffrey Clark to have the DOJ recommend that “some states with reported voter irregularities…hold a legislative session to choose different electors.” But, again, Trump backed down only when faced with prospect of mass resignations at the Department of Justice.
Both plots were discussed at a January 3, 2021 meeting in the Oval Office meeting. At that point, the election results had already been certified for several weeks. Trump was trying to convince the DOJ to help him remain in power anyway, which was not only insane but clearly a violation of our entire constitutional system. He threatened to replace Rosen as acting attorney general with Clark, and spent several hours trying to get the attendees on board for a coup.
This is clear from CNN’s article which draws on the full committee report:
[Richard] Donoghue and Rosen also recalled White House lawyers [Pat] Cipollone and Patrick Philbin pushing back on the plan to replace Rosen with Clark, with Cipollone calling Clark’s letter a “murder-suicide pact” and the two White House lawyers indicating that they would also resign, according to the report.
Despite the threat of mass resignations, Trump “continued for some time to entertain the idea of installing Clark in Rosen’s place,” the report notes. It also says that Donoghue told the panel that Trump did not reject Clark’s course of action until “‘very deep into the conversation,’ within the final 15 minutes of the two- to three-hour meeting.”
Needless to say, there would have been a different outcome if Trump hadn’t faced such stiff resistance. It doesn’t make sense to say that Trump listened to his advisers. He failed to convince them to launch a coup, so he tried to use a mob on January 6 instead. Grassley and the Senate Republicans are okay with that.