Multiple cabinet officials tried in vain to get Trump to accept that he lost the election, a new book reports.
In the days and weeks after the 2020 election, as President Donald Trump refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, some members of his own cabinet were forced to take a more blunt approach to get him to accept reality.
In one case, then Attorney General Bill Barr confronted Trump directly, telling him on November 23 that there was no widespread voter fraud in the election: "The problem is this stuff about the voting machines is just bullshit."
Barr was one of several cabinet members who tried in vain to get through to the president. Despite their best efforts, as well as entreaties from Republican members of Congress to accept the results of the election, Trump continued insisting the race was "rigged" and stolen from him.
Trump's frustration with Barr in particular reached a boiling point when the attorney general told reporters a few days later that the Justice Department had not found evidence of widespread voter fraud on a level that would change the results of the election. Barr resigned two weeks later, and Trump replaced him with Jeff Rosen.
Emails and documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee revealed that Rosen and his top deputy, Richard Donoghue, were also deeply concerned by Trump's conspiracy theories about the election and had to thwart multiple attempts by Trump and his loyalists to stop states from certifying Biden's victory.
Their concerns were shared by other top officials in the administration, like Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was so alarmed by Trump's actions after the election that he thought the president was suffering a mental decline , Woodward and Costa reported.
Then-CIA director Gina Haspel also expressed fears about the effect that Trump's election lies could have, telling Milley at one point that she believed the US was "on the way to a right-wing coup," the book said, according to The Post.
After a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in a failed - and deadly - effort to halt the certification of Biden's victory, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got on the phone with Milley and told him Trump was "crazy," according to the book. Milley responded: "I agree with you on everything."