Jeffrey Clark speaks as he stands next to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Oct. 21, 2020.
Yuri Gripas/Pool via AP, File
- Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ official, spoke with Trump about overturning the 2020 election in January 2021.
- The Washington Post on Tuesday recounted Clark’s efforts to nab the role of attorney general.
- Clark reportedly told Trump that he would investigate election fraud if given the top position.
Amid the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, Jeffrey Clark — a Trump-appointed Justice Department official overseeing the department’s civil division at the time — used his relationship with the soon-to-be-ousted president to make a play for the nation’s top law enforcement position and nearly cinched it, thanks to Trump’s increasingly desperate attempts to maintain power, according to The Washington Post.
Following Trump’s defeat in November 2020, Clark emerged as a loyal ally in the sitting president’s efforts to overturn the election results by propagating unsubstantiated claims of fraud, even as the Justice Department refuted Trump’s lies.
When Attorney General Bill Barr resigned his post in early December 2020, Jeffrey Rosen took over the position. Previous reporting from The New York Times alleged Clark and Trump were working to try and replace Rosen with Clark, who offered to investigate the baseless claims of election fraud — including Clark’s bizarre assertion that China had used thermostats to change ballots in the election — in an apparent attempt to overturn the election results.
As the Congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection now zeroes in on the role Clark played in Trump’s efforts to stay in power, witnesses offered the panel new details about a January 3, 2021 meeting in the Oval Office between the president and top DOJ officials in which Clark reportedly made his final bid for attorney general.
But according to the Post, Clark began laying the groundwork even earlier. The outlet reported that Clark met with Trump in the Oval Office shortly before Christmas 2020. The private meeting piqued Rosen’s ire and Clark responded by being “somewhat apologetic,” and promising not to do it again, according to the newspaper.
Days later, Clark sent a draft letter to Rosen and Richard Donoghue — the acting attorney general and acting deputy attorney general, respectively — requesting it be sent to Georgia officials. The letter urged state officials to investigate and potentially overturn Biden’s narrow win in the state.
In an email to his superiors, Clark told Rosen and Donoghue he believed the letter should be sent out “as soon as possible.” Donoghue and Rosen firmly rejected Clark’s efforts, according to testimony from the former DOJ officials and emails reviewed by the Post.
Soon after, however, Rosen learned that Clark had once again privately met with Trump and failed to inform his superiors, the outlet reported. It was at this point Clark reportedly told Rosen that Trump asked him to consider becoming attorney general, once again prompting Rosen’s anger.
Clark fueled the flame further when he told Rosen he could keep his position as attorney general if he changed his mind about sending the Georgia letter, according to the Post. Rosen declined.
Then, on January 3, 2021, Clark told Rosen that Trump had decided to offer him the position of attorney general and he had decided to accept, the outlet reported. The conversation prompted Rosen to call Trump and request a meeting.
Later that same day, Clark, Rosen, Donoghue, and other Justice Department and White House officials gathered for a meeting with the president in the Oval Office. Donoghue testified before the House that when he entered the room, Clark was telling Trump he would investigate and uncover widespread voter fraud if he was made attorney general.
Throughout the meeting, Trump admonished Rosen and Donoghue multiple times for failing to pursue allegations of voter fraud, the Post reported. The president also repeatedly considered the idea of replacing Rosen with Clark. But when the Justice Department officials in the room told Trump that replacing Rosen with Clark would lead to mass resignations at the department, Trump ultimately rescinded his offer to Clark, according to the outlet.
An attorney for Clark did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The January 6th committee on Tuesday postponed its next public hearing, which was scheduled for Wednesday. The panel did not provide a reason. The next hearing was meant to focus on Trump’s efforts to install loyalists at the Justice Department in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.