'Smoking gun': Former AG Eric Holder said a note where Trump told DOJ 'just say the election was corrupt' is proof of a crime

'Smoking gun': Former AG Eric Holder said a note where Trump told DOJ 'just say the election was corrupt' is proof of a crime
Video of former President Donald Trump is played during a hearing by the Select Committee in Washington, DC, on June 13, 2022.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Former AG Eric Holder described evidence presented by the Jan. 6 committee as a "smoking gun."
  • He pointed to a note from Donald Trump pressuring a DOJ official to undermine the 2020 election.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder described evidence presented at the January 6 committee hearings as a "smoking gun."

Holder, who served as Barack Obama's attorney general, said a note from Trump pressuring the Department of Justice to intervene in the 2020 election was proof of a crime.

The note was from Trump to Richard Donaghue, a former Justice Department official, relaying remarks Trump made to officials in December 2020.

In the note, Donaghue said Trump told officials to "just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen."

Holder in a tweet Thursday said the note is "the smoking gun" that could enable a prosecution.


"Coupled with other testimony demonstrates both Trump's substantive involvement and corrupt intent, requisite state of mind," he said, using terms for legal thresholds that a hypothetical prosecution would need to reach.

Insider has contacted Trump's spokesperson for comment.

'Smoking gun': Former AG Eric Holder said a note where Trump told DOJ 'just say the election was corrupt' is proof of a crime
Eric Holder speaks during a press conference at the Department of Justice on September 30, 2013 in Washington, DC.Kris Connor/Getty Images

A federal judge, David Carter, in a March ruling, found that Trump and one of his lawyers, John Eastman, most likely committed crimes in seeking to overturn the 2020 election.

The particular offenses described were obstructing the work of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Carter's ruling was part of an unrelated case and has no direct impact on any plans to prosecute Trump.


Evidence apparently showing that Trump knew, or should have known, his election fraud claims were false yet continued to promote them anyway has been central to the case the Jan. 6 committee has built in its hearings, and would be the basis for a criminal case against Trump.

The Jan. 6 committee has heard from multiple witnesses saying that Trump was repeatedly told by aides and top officials his election fraud claims were false, and even said in private he knew he had lost to Joe Biden.

Trump in a statement last week hinted at a possible criminal defense, claiming that he genuinely believes his election fraud claims are true and was within his rights to attempt to address the situation.

If the Jan. 6 committee makes a criminal referral about Trump to the DOJ, whether to go ahead with any prosecution would be up to the present Attorney General, Merrick Garland.

In his tenure the DOJ has charged some former Trump officials following referrals by the Jan. 6 committee, including Peter Navarro, yet has declined to charge others, including former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.


Several Justice Department officials on Thursday testified about Trump's bid to pressure them to back his false election fraud claims, despite their having found no evidence to substantiate them.

They said they threatened a mass resignation when Trump said he might appoint Jeffrey Clark, a Trump loyalist who backed the voter fraud claims, as acting attorney general.