The Justice Department was “investigating various irregularities,” according to the letter, and had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia.” That being the case, “While the Department of Justice believe[s] the Governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter, if he declines to do so, we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for [t]he limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of Presidential Electors.”
“Personally, I see no valid downsides to sending out the letter,” Clark wrote in an email to Rosen and Richard Donoghue, then the acting deputy attorney general. Rosen and Donoghue emphatically refused to sign on. “There is no chance that I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this,” Donoghue responded, calling it “not even within the realm of possibility” that he would do so. Rosen later added: “I confirmed again today that I am not prepared to sign such a letter.”
Following their refusal, Clark and Trump moved ahead with the plan to replace Rosen with Clark, a plan that was only blocked after a three-hour meeting—in the wake of reports on the phone call in which Trump had pleaded with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes”—at which White House counsel Pat Cipollone advised him not to fire Rosen.
During the same time period, Rosen and Donoghue were dealing with frequent phone calls from Trump himself, including one on which Trump asked them to “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” according to Donoghue’s notes.
This was an all-out effort to get the Department of Justice to throw its moral weight behind Trump’s effort to steal an election, from the call to “Just say the election was corrupt” to the failed effort to tell Georgia officials to outright overturn their state’s results to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Just because it failed doesn’t mean it wasn’t deadly serious.