We all knew Trump was going off the rails in his last few weeks in office—that is “off the rails” for him, a man who has always been a little off kilter to say the least.
But now the New York Times has come out with a report revealing that the former president was on the cusp of pulling a Nixon, by very nearly precipitating the abandonment of the Department of Justice by its senior leaders with his attempt to install a new attorney general in January who would pursue Trump’s ridiculous election fraud lie.
According to the report, earlier this month Trump was seriously considering replacing his acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen—who replaced William Barr in the role after he left in December—with another attorney in the DOJ named Jeffrey Clark.
The purpose of the switch-out? To empower Clark to use the Justice Department to launch a federal investigation into Trump’s fantasies that the election was stolen from him, and to use the might of the office to pressure state officials in Georgia to hand over the election to Trump if they knew what was good for them.
Reportedly stunned (although I don’t know why they would be, as Trump never hid his comfort with ruthlessness and corruption during his time in office), Rosen and acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue got together with their other DOJ colleagues and decided the installment of Clark would be their breaking point.
No wonder, because it sounds like the plan would have implicated all of the Justice Department in some shady shit.
From the Times:
As December wore on, Mr. Clark mentioned to Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue that he spent a lot of time reading on the internet — a comment that alarmed them because they inferred that he believed the unfounded conspiracy theory that Mr. Trump had won the election. Mr. Clark also told them that he wanted the department to hold a news conference announcing that it was investigating serious accusations of election fraud. Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue rejected the proposal.
As Mr. Trump focused increasingly on Georgia, a state he lost narrowly to Mr. Biden, he complained to Justice Department leaders that the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, Byung J. Pak, was not trying to find evidence for false election claims pushed by Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and others. Mr. Donoghue warned Mr. Pak that the president was now fixated on his office, and that it might not be tenable for him to continue to lead it, according to two people familiar with the conversation.
That conversation and Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to “find” him votes compelled Mr. Pak to abruptly resign this month.
Mr. Clark was also focused on Georgia. He drafted a letter that he wanted Mr. Rosen to send to Georgia state legislators that wrongly said that the Justice Department was investigating accusations of voter fraud in their state, and that they should move to void Mr. Biden’s win there.
Keep in mind, this was all happening in the past few weeks and amid the Washington Post’s release of audio from a phone call in which Trump leaned on Georgia’s former secretary of state to “find” him 11,780 votes, the exact number required to manufacture a win for him against Biden.
Senior officials at the Justice Department, including Steven Engel of the DOJ’s office of legal counsel, banded together and told Trump in early January they would leave en masse if Rosen was fired and Clark put in his place. That seems to be what pulled Trump off the ledge of the plan. Clark, for his part, told the Times he never recommended to the former president that he could use internet conspiracy theories to win him the election after the fact.
“There was a candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president,” Clark said.
Everyday it becomes clearer just how close we were experiencing even more of the kind of chaos we suffered through under Trump’s presidency. This latest revelation confirms to me that some serious official probing needs to be done into all the shenanigans that took place under the previous administration.
More than a few people, Trump most of all, needs to be held accountable for these alleged flirtations with using the office of president for nefarious purposes. Without that, what’s the incentive for future presidents to avoid doing the same?