Donald Trump plotted to replace his acting attorney general with a Justice Department loyalist so he could then wield federal legal resources in a bid to overturn Georgia’s presidential election results, sources told The New York Times in a bombshell report Friday.
Trump plotted with Department of Justice lawyer Jeffrey Clark to replace acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen, who repeatedly rebuffed Trump’s demands to take action to overturn Georgia voters’ choice for president, according to the Times, citing four unnamed officials.
The day after Trump announced Attorney General William Barr was leaving office, he reportedly demanded that Rosen use the Justice Department to support lawsuits filed by Trump’s allies that baselessly claimed election fraud, and which have gone down to defeat. Rosen told Trump, as Barr had explained, that there was no evidence of any widespread fraud, the Times reported.
Clark aggressively pushed Trump’s position to Rosen. He eventually informed the acting attorney general on Jan. 3 that the president was replacing him with Clark. He said Rosen could stay on as his deputy, which left Rosen “speechless,” the Times reported. Clark reportedly told Rosen that he planned to block Congress from certifying the electoral votes in the presidential race.
The plot hit a snag, however, when Justice Department officials decided in a conference call that they would all resign if Rosen was fired, according to the Times. Trump reportedly feared that an uproar over a mass resignation would undercut his attempts to overturn election results and possibly trigger congressional investigations.
Two officials told the newspaper that at one point, Clark and Rosen had to present their competing cases for contesting elections results — or not — before Trump in a showdown resembling a scene from his reality program “The Apprentice.”
Clark “categorically denied” to the Times that he devised a plan to boot Rosen, but said he could not reveal anything he discussed with Trump or other department layers because of the “the strictures of legal privilege.” Trump and Rosen declined to comment.
The machinations revealed the extreme measures Trump was prepared to take to seize the presidency at any cost, even at the expense of a democratic election. A recording of Trump’s damning phone call telling Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” the votes he needed to overturn the election emerged as Trump was desperately attempting to wrest control of the Justice Department.
Read the entire New York Times article with the fascinating play-by-play here.