- Trump reportedly worked with a Justice Department lawyer to try and oust the acting attorney general.
- He wanted to replace Jeffrey Rosen with lawyer Jeffrey Clark, The New York Times reported.
- Trump backed down after a group of top DOJ leaders said they’d resign if Rosen was fired.
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Donald Trump reportedly plotted with a Justice Department lawyer to oust acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen so he could place a loyalist who would put pressure on lawmakers in Georgia to overturn the election in his favor, The New York Times reported Friday.
The story recalls Trump’s final efforts to hold on to power in the days leading up to President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
According to The Times’ Katie Benner, Trump and Jeffrey Clark were working on ways to stir up doubts about the election results. Rosen had not cooperated with Trump’s alleged plan, prompting him to seek out a willing participant in Clark, The Times reported.
Top leaders at the Justice Department threatened to resign if Rosen was fired, which forced Trump to abandon the idea, but not before Clark and Rosen made their opposing arguments to Trump, the newspaper reported.
Trump and Republican allies lost several dozen lawsuits attempting to overturn election results.
Allies including pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell have pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion Voting Systems switched votes for Trump to votes for Biden in the election. Dominion filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Powell earlier this month.
The Times reported Trump also pressured Rosen to appoint special counsels, specifically one that would investigate Dominion.
Insider was unable to reach Clark, and the Justice Department did not reply to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Clark told The Times its report, which was based on interviews with four former Trump officials, had inaccuracies but did not specify what they were.
“Senior Justice Department lawyers, not uncommonly, provide legal advice to the White House as part of our duties,” Clark said. “All my official communications were consistent with law.”
In December, Rosen and deputy attorney general, Richard Donoghue reportedly denied Clark’s request to have the department hold a news conference and say they were investigating the fraud allegations.
Trump had focused on the state of Georgia, where Biden had won by a small margin. The Trump administration had put pressure and attacked the then US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Byung J. “BJay” Pak. Pak resigned from his role on January 4 and the Justice Department replaced him the next day.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday the inspector general is now investigating Pak’s sudden departure.
Pak isn’t the only Georgia official Trump tried to pressure. Trump also pleaded with the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” additional votes to help him win.
Additionally, The Times reported Clark had asked Rosen and Donoghue to send Georgia officials a letter that falsely said the department was investigating the state for voter fraud and that they should overturn Biden’s win. On December 31, Rosen and Donoghue told Clark he was wrong since there was no evidence of any fraud.
Over that weekend, Clark met with Trump and came back to tell Rosen he would replace him ahead of January 6, when Congress met to certify the votes.
Rosen refused to step down and worked with White House counsel, Pat Cipollone to schedule a meeting with Trump later that night, The Times reported.
Rosen, Donoghue, and Clark met with Trump, Cipollone, and his deputy Patrick Philbin. Cipollone ultimately convinced Trump it would be unwise to fire Rosen.
Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud have been criticized as the spark that fueled the attempted insurrection on January 6 at the US Capitol. Trump supporters breached the building and clashed with law enforcement, halting the joint session of Congress as lawmakers were set to formalize Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. The riot lead to the deaths of five people.
The House impeached Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection. The Senate will soon hold a trial and vote on whether to convict the former president. This is the second impeachment Trump faced in his four years in office.