Trump pressured DOJ, DHS to seize voting machines: Jan. 6 hearing testimony

During the public hearing for the House committee’s investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection, former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen testified that then-President Donald Trump pressured the Justice Department to seize voting machines after he lost the 2020 election. When the DOJ told Trump it wasn’t possible, he pressured the Department of Homeland Security to seize the machines.

Video transcript

ADAM KINZINGER: Mr. Rosen, the president asked you to seize voting machines from state governments. What was your response to that request?

JEFF ROSEN: That we had seen nothing improper with regard to the voting machines. And I told him that the real experts at that had been at DHS. And they had briefed us that they had looked at it, and that there was nothing wrong with the voting machines. And so that was not something that was appropriate to do.

ADAM KINZINGER: So there would be no factual basis to seize machines. Mr. Donahue--

JEFF ROSEN: I don't think there was legal authority either.

ADAM KINZINGER: Yeah, Mr. Donahue, can you explain what the president did after he was told that the Justice Department would not seize voting machines?

- President was very agitated by the acting attorney general's response, and to the extent that machines and the technology was being discussed, the acting attorney general said that the DHS, Department of Homeland Security, has expertise in machines, and certifying them, and making sure that the states are operating them properly. And since DHS had been mentioned, the president yelled out to his secretary, get Ken Cuccinelli on the phone. And she did in very short order. Mr. Cuccinelli was on the phone. He was the number two at DHS at the time.

I was on the speakerphone. And the president essentially said, Ken. I'm sitting here with the acting attorney general. He just told me it's your job to seize machines. And you're not doing your job. And Mr. Cuccinelli responded.

ADAM KINZINGER: Mr. Rosen, did you ever tell the president that the Department of Homeland Security could seize voting machines?

JEFF ROSEN: No. Certainly not.

ADAM KINZINGER: Mr. Donahue, during this meeting, did the president tell you that he would remove you and Mr. Rosen because you weren't declaring there was election fraud?

- Toward the end of the meeting, the president again was getting very agitated. And he said, people tell me I should just get rid of both of you. I should just remove you and make a change in the leadership, put Jeff Clark in. Maybe something will finally get done.

And I responded, as I think I had earlier in the December 27 call, Mr. President, you should have the leadership that you want. But understand, the United States Justice Department functions on facts, evidence, and law. And those are not going to change. So you can have whatever leadership you want. But the department's position is not going to change.

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