New evidence has emerged detailing former US president Donald Trump's frantic, last-ditch attempts to get the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to help him overturn his election defeat to Joe Biden.
Today a congressional committee investigating the events surrounding the Capitol riot on January 6 released a fresh trove of documents.
The most eye-catching emails, from late December, show Trump pressured the DOJ to launch a new lawsuit on his behalf petitioning the Supreme Court to throw out the election results in six key states he lost.
On December 29, two weeks after the electoral college had confirmed Biden's victory, Trump's White House assistant Molly Michael emailed acting attorney general Jeff Rosen and his deputy Richard Donoghue.
"The President asked me to send the attached draft document for your review. I have also shared with [White House chief of staff] Mark Meadows and [White House counsel] Pat Cipollone," Michael wrote.
"If you'd like to discuss with POTUS, the best way to reach him in the next few days is through the operators."
The attached document was a draft bill of complaint Trump wanted the DOJ to file with the Supreme Court.
It asked the court to invalidate the results from Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada, and authorise special elections to appoint new presidential electors.
The 54-page legal brief used arguments that had already been rejected by courts at federal and state level. It argued, for example, that the states in question violated the law by changing their election rules in 2020, making it easier to vote by mail, without approval from their respective state legislatures.
"Those unconstitutional changes allowed election irregularities in various forms," it said.
Trump's suggested petition was strikingly similar to another lawsuit, filed by the Republican Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, which the Supreme Court had rejected earlier in December for lack of standing.
That case, which called for the nullification of four states' results, had been memorably dismissed by legal experts as "utter garbage", "indefensible nonsense", and "the dumbest case any lawyer has ever seen", among other things.
On the morning of December 29, DOJ officials were also contacted by Kurt Olsen, a lawyer who represented Texas in the lawsuit mentioned above and was now working for Trump.
Olsen said he had been trying to get in touch with Rosen, the acting attorney general, without success.
"Last night, the President directed me to meet with AG Rosen today to discuss a similar action to be brought by the United States," he said in his email, referring back to the Texas lawsuit.
"I have not been able to reach him despite multiple calls/texts. This is an urgent matter. Please call me or ask AG Rosen to contact me asap. Thank you."
It appears a DOJ staffer, John Moran, subsequently called him. A little over an hour later, Olsen emailed again, with the White House's draft bill of complaint attached.
"As I said on our call, the President of the United States has seen this complaint, and he directed me last night to brief AG Rosen in person today to discuss bringing this action," Olsen wrote.
"I have been instructed to report back to the President this afternoon after this meeting. I can be at Main Justice within an hour's notice. I will call you at 1.15pm today to follow up on when and where I can meet AG Rosen."
Olsen's words demonstrate the extent of Trump's personal involvement here. The lawyer wasn't just acting on his own, he was taking instructions from the president.
It's worth noting that Rosen was only acting attorney general at this point because the former attorney general, William Barr, had resigned a fortnight earlier.
At the start of December, Barr publicly slapped down Trump's election fraud claims, saying the DOJ had investigated and found no evidence to back him up.
"We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election," he said.
Rosen, too, appears to have resisted the president's efforts.
'Brazen and dangerous'
A series of emails from Moran, spanning several hours on the afternoon of December 29, show Rosen was not responding to Olsen.
"I explained that you were tied up with other business at the White House. He understood, but indicated that, given timing commitments he had made to the President, he needed to make every effort to meet with you this afternoon," Moran said in one such message.
The DOJ never filed a Supreme Court petition, and while Trump reportedly considered ditching Rosen and replacing him with someone more amenable to his demands, that never happened either.
Throughout his time in office, Trump never quite seemed to grasp that the DOJ worked for the American people, not him. He frequently complained that his attorneys general, Barr and his predecessor Jeff Sessions, were doing too little to protect him.
Professor Rick Hasen, from the Irvine School of Law, was among the election law experts dunking on the Texas lawsuit earlier. This is what he said about today's news.
"This is nothing less than an attempt to use the courts to steal the election. It is brazen, and dangerous, and an affront to the rule of law," Hasen said.
"We are lucky that enough election administrators, elected officials, judges, governors and members of Congress blocked these attempts from going forward."
We're not finished yet, though. There were more revelations spread among the documents released today.
The emails show, for instance, that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows repeatedly sent Rosen outlandish allegations about fraud, pestering him to investigate them.
On January 1, Meadows forwarded a YouTube link espousing the conspiracy theory that people in Italy used satellites and military technology to switch votes cast for Trump to support Biden instead.
Rosen forwarded it on to Donoghue, the acting deputy attorney general.
"Pure insanity," Donoghue replied.
"Yes," Rosen agreed.
"After this message, I was asked to have FBI meet with Brad Johnson (the guy behind the YouTube video), and I responded that Johnson could call or walk into the FBI's Washington field office with any evidence he purports to have.
"On a follow-up call, I learned that Johnson is working with Rudy Giuliani, who regarded my comments as 'an insult'."
Giuliani was the head of Trump's post-election legal team.
"Asked if I would reconsider, I flatly refused, said I would not be giving any special treatment to Giuliani or any of his 'witnesses', and reaffirmed yet again that I will not talk to Giuliani about any of this," Rosen concluded.
Meadows kept trying.
"There have been allegations of signature match anomalies in Fulton Country, Georgia," he wrote later on January 1, asking Rosen to get the department to "engage on this issue immediately" to determine whether those allegations were true.
Rosen again vented to Donoghue.
"Can you believe this? I am not going to respond," he said.
"At least it's better than the last one, but that doesn't say much," Donoghue quipped.
Spotlight on Trump-era officials
It's worth noting here that Georgia audited its results three times, including a recount by hand, and found no evidence of the fraud Trump alleged.
Meadows also forwarded Rosen a list of allegations made by the Republican Party chairman in New Mexico, Steve Pearce, telling him to get the DOJ to review them. Trump lost New Mexico by 11 per cent.
Rosen stood firm under all this pressure, and on the evening of January 3, associate deputy attorney general Patrick Hovakimian told his colleagues "it sounds like Rosen and the cause of justice won".
Three days later, a mob of Trump's supporters stormed the US Capitol building. But Congress did certify the electoral college result, and Biden became President on January 20.
In light of the new evidence released today, the Oversight Committee is now seeking transcribed interviews with a number of Trump-era officials, including Meadows, Donoghue, and Hovakimian.
It already invited Rosen to appear for an interview. That is reportedly still being arranged.
"These documents show that President Trump tried to corrupt our nation's chief law enforcement agency in a brazen attempt to overturn an election that he lost," said the committee's chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat.
"Those who aided or witnessed President Trump's unlawful actions must answer the committee's questions about this attempted subversion of democracy.
"My committee is committed to ensuring that the events leading up to the violent January 6 insurrection are fully investigated."