Jeffrey Clark, a former top Justice Department official under Donald Trump, was prepared to use the Insurrection Act to stay in power despite Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election, according to Tuesday’s federal indictment of the former president.
The indictment reveals a stunning Jan. 3, 2021, exchange between Clark, who is referred to as Co-Conspirator 4, and deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin. Philbin had previously warned Clark in December that “there is no world, there is no option in which you do not leave the White House [o]n January 20th.” He made the point again on Jan. 3 in an effort to dissuade Clark from assuming the role of acting attorney general under a fraudulent Trump presidency.
Philbin warned Clark that if Trump tried to stay in office despite no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, there would be “riots in every major city in the United States.”
Clark replied, “Well, [Phibin], that’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.”
The Insurrection Act, originally enacted in 1792, empowers the president of the United States to deploy the military domestically in certain cases, like suppressing civil disorder or rebellion.
Tuesday’s indictment accuses Clark of having “worked on civil matters and who, with the Defendant, attempted to use the Justice Department to open sham election crime investigations and influence state legislatures with knowingly false claims of election fraud.”
Trump himself was indicted on four felony charges related to the insurrection, his second federal indictment this year.
Read the full indictment here.