Top DOJ official prepared resignation letter as Trump tried to overturn election: report

A top Department of Justice (DOJ) official reportedly drafted a resignation letter for himself and the department’s second-in-command in the event that former President Trump fired acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen in his push to overturn 2020 election results.

According to a draft email obtained by Politico, Patrick Hovakimian, an associate deputy attorney general and senior adviser to Rosen, prepared the potential resignation announcement in early January 2021. 

In the message, Hovakimian intended to announce that he and Richard Donoghue, the DOJ’s second-in-command at the time, would be resigning. 

“This evening, after Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen over the course of the last week repeatedly refused the President’s direct instructions to utilize the Department of Justice’s law enforcement powers for improper ends, the President removed Jeff from the Department,” Hovakimian wrote in his email, which was never sent, as Trump never fired Rosen. 

“PADAG Rich Donoghue and I resign from the Department, effective immediately,” Hovakimian said in the draft message. 

Hovakimian’s note went on to say, “The decision of whether and when to resign and whether the ends of justice are best served by resigning is a highly individual question, informed by personal and family circumstances.” 

The message to be sent to other DOJ staff added, “Jeff asked me to pass on to each of you that whatever your own decision, he knows you will adhere always to the highest standards of justice and act always – and only – in the interests of the United States.”

The draft email, which was not previously reported, follows previous late January reporting from The New York Times that Trump allegedly sought to oust Rosen and replace him with DOJ lawyer Jeffrey Clark to help put pressure on Georgia politicians to challenge election results there. 

The Times reported that the plot was unsuccessful and Rosen remained in his position for the remainder of the administration after a group of DOJ officials uncovered the alleged plan and threatened to resign en masse. 

A person familiar with the matter told Politico that Hovakimian drafted the email on Jan. 3 after Rosen and Donoghue left for a meeting with Trump at the White House. 

The Hill has reached out to Hovakimian’s lawyer, Raphael Prober, for comment. 

Prober, a partner at Akin Gump, declined to comment when contacted by Politico. 

Politico reported that the House Oversight Committee brought in Hovakimian for a closed-door, transcribed interview before staff on Tuesday, and that the committee has obtained a copy of the draft email.

The committee has ramped up its probe into Trump’s attempts in the final weeks of his administration to put pressure on the DOJ to back his false claims of widespread fraud in the presidential election. 

Documents released last week to the Oversight Committee revealed that Trump urged Rosen and other top DOJ officials to call the 2020 election corrupt and “leave the rest” to him.

Tags 2020 election Department of Justice Donald Trump Georgia House Oversight Committee Politico The New York Times Trump election claims

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