Former Acting Attorney General Testifies About Trump’s Efforts to Subvert Election
WASHINGTON – Jeffrey A. Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Trump administration, told Justice Department watchdog and congressional investigators that one of his deputies tried to help the former president Donald J. Trump to overturn the 2020 election results, according to a person familiar with the interviews.
Mr Rosen had a two-hour meeting on Friday with the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s office and testified behind closed doors to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday.
The investigations were initiated following a New York Times article that detailed the efforts of Jeffrey Clark, acting head of the Department of Justice’s civilian division, to push senior officials into falsely and publicly claiming that the investigations ongoing electoral fraud cast doubt on the results of the Electoral College. This prompted Mr. Trump to consider ousting Mr. Rosen and installing Mr. Clark at the top of the department to carry out this plan.
Mr. Trump has never fired Mr. Rosen, but the plot highlights the former president’s desire to beat the Justice Department to advance his personal agenda.
Mr Clark, who did not respond to requests for comment, said in January that all of his official communications with the White House “were in accordance with the law” and that he had engaged in “a frank discussion on options and the pros and cons with The President. “
Mr. Rosen did not respond to requests for comment. The spokesperson for the inspector general declined to comment.
Mr Rosen has become a key witness in multiple investigations focused on Mr Trump’s efforts to undermine election results. He said publicly that the Justice Department did not find enough fraud to have an impact on the election outcome.
Mr Rosen told investigators in the Inspector General’s office on Friday about five meetings with Mr Clark, including one in late December in which his deputy admitted to meeting Mr Trump and pledged not to do so again. , according to one person. familiar with the interview.
Mr Rosen also described subsequent interactions with Mr Clark, who continued to pressure his colleagues to make statements about the election that they believed were false, according to a person familiar with the interview.
He also discovered that Mr. Clark had had unauthorized conversations with Mr. Trump about ways to make the Justice Department publicly doubt President Biden’s victory, especially in the battlefield states where Mr. Trump was obsessed, like Georgia. Mr Clark wrote a letter that he asked Mr Rosen to send to Georgia state lawmakers, incorrectly claiming they should overturn Mr Biden’s victory because the Justice Department was investigating on charges of electoral fraud in the state.
Such a letter would effectively undermine the efforts of Mr. Clark’s colleagues to prevent the White House from overturning the election results, and Mr. Rosen and his senior deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, rejected the proposal.
As details of Mr. Clark’s actions emerge, it is unclear what consequences, if any, he could incur. The Justice Department’s Inspector General could determine whether Mr. Clark crossed the line in potentially criminal behavior. In this case, the Inspector General could refer the case to federal prosecutors.
Mr Rosen has spent much of the year discussing with the Justice Department what information he could provide to investigators, given that decision-making conversations between administration officials are generally kept confidential.
Douglas A. Collins, an attorney for Mr Trump, said last week that the former president would not seek to bar former Justice Department officials from speaking with investigators. But Mr Collins said he could take undisclosed legal action if congressional investigators were looking for “inside information.”
Mr Rosen quickly scheduled talks with congressional investigators to get the most out of his version of events before players could ask the courts to block proceedings, according to two people familiar with the talks who are not authorized to speak ongoing investigations. .
He also contacted Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, directly and vowed to cooperate with his investigation, according to a person briefed on the talks.
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