Richard P. Donoghue, who served as acting assistant attorney general in the Trump administration, was a crucial witness to President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to use the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election results, and l one of the many officials there who pumped the brakes on the plan.
Mr. Donoghue has repeatedly pushed back against Mr. Trump’s voter fraud allegations in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona, and he refused to follow through when Mr. Trump insisted the department just “say that the election was corrupt” and to “leave the rest for me,” according to notes Mr. Donoghue took during a Dec. 27, 2020, call with Mr. Trump and Jeffrey A. Rosen, the acting attorney general. .
On Thursday, Mr. Donoghue was appearing in person before the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol in a hearing at which aides said the panel would uncover new evidence of the attempted Mr. Trump to use the nation’s law enforcement agencies. device to invalidate his defeat and stay in power.
Much is already known about Mr. Trump’s efforts and the resistance of Mr. Donoghue and his colleagues, including that the President instructed the Justice Department to send letters to state election officials warning them that there had been widespread fraud in elections and in filing lawsuits. to help his campaign.
During a hearing on Tuesday, the House committee played audio of an interview with Mr. Donoghue in which he recounted telling Mr. Trump that there was no suitcase containing ballots. fraudulent voting in Georgia, a popular conspiracy theory based on a selectively edited video shared by Mr. Trump’s allies.
Mr. Trump “kept obsessing over this suitcase that supposedly contained fraudulent ballots,” Mr. Donoghue said in the interview. “I said, ‘No, sir, there is no suitcase. “”
Mr Trump, in his final weeks in office, also planned to oust Mr Rosen, when it was clear he did not have his backing to send Georgia state lawmakers a letter falsely indicating that the department was seriously investigating the voter fraud charges. .
Mr. Donoghue summoned senior department leaders by telephone, laying out a plan that the group would resign en masse if Mr. Rosen was fired.
Mr. Trump eventually allowed Mr. Rosen to stay.