A new report on the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection suggests that former President Donald Trump tried to block Vice President Mike Pence from hearing legal advice that would have warned against refusing to certify the results of the 2020 election.
The Washington Post constructed a narrative account of a Jan. 3, 2021, meeting between the former president, the White House counsel, the acting attorney general and other senior DOJ officials based on court filings, depositions, Senate and House reports, previously unreleased emails and interviews with government officials showing efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn his election loss.
Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy Richard Donoghue flatly refused to take part in efforts to pressure states to send alternate electors for Trump and threatened to resign if Trump elevated Jeffrey Clark, the plan's author and an assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources division, to attorney general, but the effort didn't end there.
"Clark had yet another idea," the Post reported. "He asked whether [Steve Engel, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel] could provide a formal opinion about what authority Vice President Mike Pence had 'when it comes to opening the votes' of the electoral college result on Jan. 6, according to an excerpt of Engel’s deposition in a recent court filing."
Engel told Clark that was absurd, saying that wasn't the Justice Department's job and noted that Pence would perform his constitutional duty to certify the results in only three days, and Trump interrupted to tell everyone attending the meeting that he did not want them talking to Pence about what he should do on Jan. 6.
“'Nobody should be talking to the vice president here,' Trump said, according to Engel's testimony. Instead, Trump would soon do that himself in an attempt to convince the vice president not to certify Biden’s election."
Three days later, after Trump told his supporters he had won the election in a landslide, a mob broke into the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of Biden's election win.