Watchdog to investigate claims Justice Department officials plotted to help Trump overturn election result

Former president was accused of conspiring with DOJ lawyer Jeffrey Clark

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Monday 25 January 2021 19:13
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A government watchdog will investigate claims that Justice Department officials plotted to help Donald Trump overturn the election result.

The Justice Department’s inspector general has launched a probe after it was alleged that Mr Trump worked with a DOJ lawyer to oust the acting attorney general and force Georgia lawmakers to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the state.

Mr Trump allegedly conspired with Jeffrey Clark to cast doubt on election results in the state and heap pressure on politicians there to help him, according to the New York Times.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said that his investigation would look "into whether any former or current DOJ official engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election."

The New York Times was told by officials that the former president considered firing acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen after he refused to help him stay in power, and replacing him with Mr Clark.

The plan only failed when senior department officials got on a conference call and agreed they would  resign together if Mr Trump followed through with it.

The twice-impeached former president eventually decided he had to keep Mr Rosen rather than risk the controversy of mass resignations that would overtake his claims of voter fraud.

But his decision only came after Mr Trump had both men make their rival arguments to him, which was compared by officials to an episode of The Apprentice.

Mr Clark has defended his actions in secretly working with Mr Trump.

“Senior Justice Department lawyers, not uncommonly, provide legal advice to the White House as part of our duties,” Mr Clark told the New York Times last week.

“All my official communications were consistent with law.”

Mr Clark was reportedly introduced to Mr Trump by Pennsylvania congressman Scott Perry, who was sympathetic to the ex-president’s claims that the election had been stolen.

Judges and election officials in battleground states repeatedly debunked Mr Trump’s false and baseless claims and the Supreme Court refused to get involved.

Mr Trump was impeached for an unprecedented second time for inciting the Capitol violence on 6 January that left five people dead, including a police officer.

He will face a Senate trial starting on 8 February, which will require a two-thirds majority to convict him.

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